Now there's no substitute for going to The Pizza Stop to get a hot slice or pie right at the source, but I know that for reasons of geography and time constraints, that's not always feasible for everybody.
But if you find it difficult to get to The Pizza Stop, I've got good news. At least one of The Pizza Stop's wares may be coming to a store near you.
Owner Jim Staffieri has been at work for some time now on perfecting a frozen version of his stuffed pizza, and what I'll call the beta version is currently being tested. Jim was kind enough to let me try three of these pies recently, each with a different stuffing: sausage and banana peppers, pepperoni and Italian sausage, and chicken and Ricotta.
Each pie measured about 7" across. While that may sound small, these pies were hefty, and each could easily make an entire meal for one person, or serve as a shared entree for two people, with a salad or other side.
Jim prebakes these pies, then adds sauce and cheese before freezing. He recommended a quick thaw in the microwave before popping into a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or so. I gave mine 20 minutes on a pizza stone, and they came out very nicely - hot throughout, with well-melted cheese on top.
The underside of these pies was dry and slightly crisp, although obviously these are not going to be as crisp (nor would you want them to be) as a thin-crust, New York style pizza. What was especially nice about these was that they had a fresh, bready aroma and texture - not at all what you would expect from a frozen pizza. The sauce also liquefied nicely in the oven, without making the top crust soggy.
The stuffings were all well heated after 20 minutes in the oven, and if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the sausage and banana peppers. But I'm a hothead, pepperwise, so no surprise there. My 8-year-old daughter polished off nearly the entire sausage and pepperoni pie herself, but she's got a thing for pepperoni. Must be in the genes. Basically, whatever you like on your pizzas, could be put into a stuffed pizza, so it comes down to a matter of personal preference.
I wish I could tell you that these are now available at local supermarkets, but they're not. Not yet. Business and legal details remain to be dealt with before that happens. In the meantime, ask Jim about them next time you're in The Pizza Stop, and he may have some on hand. If so, grab 'em. You'll want a stack of these in your freezer.
The Pizza Stop, 123 State St., Rochester 14614
Hours: Mon. - Thu. 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Fri. 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. Closed weekends.