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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Joe's Brooklyn: More Selections

I had a bunch of people to feed recently, and what better way to do that than with three different pizzas from Joe's Brooklyn Pizza in Henrietta?
There was something here to please everyone:  a cheese pie, a spinach artichoke white pizza, and a tomato, basil and garlic pie.
At this point, I don't think I have to say much about the crust. Joe's makes a terrific thin crust pizza, bready, charred and crackly underneath. I've yet to be disappointed on that score.
What's fun for me now is exploring the different combinations of toppings. First up, a basic cheese and sauce pie, which for all its simplicity is still the benchmark, the go-to pizza that reduces pizza to its essence.
This time around, Joe's swirled the sauce on top, over the cheese, as on their Grandma's pizza. This allows the cheese to adhere better to the crust, and it also results in more water evaporating from the sauce in the oven, which both avoids a soggy crust and concentrates the flavor of the sauce. This was a well balanced, flavorful pie that didn't last long among my guests. Try ordering it this way next time.
The spinach artichoke pie offered a pleasant contrast to the cheese pie, with the slightly bitter flavor of spinach combining with tangy artichoke hearts, and shallots (a shamefully underused vegetable that is something of a cross between onion and  garlic - does it get any better than that?), topped off with sharp Romano cheese, over an olive oil-brushed crust. This was a delight.
A tomato basil pie made for a fine way to round out this troika, combining as it did the more cheese-dominated aspects of a white pizza with the slight acidity of diced tomatoes and the earthiness of finely chopped basil. Some establishments might call this a Margherita, but a "true" Margherita calls for fresh mozzarella, and so Joe described this, more accurately, as a tomato-basil pie.
By whatever name, this was fine pizza. A layer of processed mozzarella formed a bed for the other toppings, and since it's hard to go wrong with tomatoes and basil (with a little garlic to boot), this was one tasty pie. Joe applied a balsamic reduction to half the pie (you'll notice that the left side of the pie is a bit darker than the right), and while balsamic vinegar is one of those things that I think you either like or you don't, it was surprisingly effective here as a complement to the other toppings, making for a complex yet not overdone flavor profile.
I love Rochester's indigenous style of pizza - a bit thick, with generous sauce and cheese - and I certainly don't want any one style to become ubiquitous. But I also like having a lot of choices, stylistically, and as far as I'm concerned, every community deserves the option of good, New York style pizza. Joe's serves up excellent pies that could easily hold their own in their namesake borough. If you haven't yet been there, go. If you've been there but have limited yourself to cheese or pepperoni pizza, it's time to try some of Joe's other varieties. Even if you don't have occasion to get three full pies, you can take advantage of Joe's wide selection of slices and do a mini-sampling of your own. I'm getting hungry just writing about it.
Oh, yeah - Joe's continues to rate an "A" from me.
Joe's Brooklyn Pizza, 1100 Jefferson Rd., Henrietta
424-JOES (5637)
Mon. & Tue. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Wed. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. noon - 8 p.m.

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