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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pizza King, Hornell

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As regular readers of this blog may know, I've been spending some time in the Southern Tier lately, meaning roughly along the southern reaches of 390 and Rt. 17/86, from Steuben County in the east to Cattaraugus County in the west. Partly that's been for hiking in some of the abundant state forest land in that area, but I've also been visiting family.
So I hope you'll forgive me if I stray a bit outside the Rochester area for the time being. I know this is the Rochester NY Pizza Blog, but by its nature a blog is an online journal of one's experiences, and my experiences at the moment include a lot of time to our near south. And since a lot of Rochester-area residents do have occasion to drive to, or through, the Southern Tier from time to time, it may be helpful to learn about a few of the pizza places you'll find along the way.
All of which is a leadup to Pizza King in Hornell. As I reported last month, Pizza King was started in the mid '70s by Bill Giovanniello, who currently owns and operates Giovanni's in Hornell. Bill, a native of Italy, is something of a Johnny (or should I say Gianni) Appleseed for NY style pizza in Western New York; as that prior post explains, Bill and Pizza King led, in one way or another, to the opening of several other pizzerias in WNY, including several in the Rochester area.
Though Bill sold Pizza King some years ago to concentrate on his current establishment, Pizza King - now owned and operated by a former employee of Bill - remains in business. (A related establishment of the same name, which was started by Bill's brother, also exists in nearby Wellsville, as explained here.)
On a recent visit to Pizza King, I got a cheese slice, and a Buffalo chicken slice. I'm pretty sure Pizza King wasn't serving Buffalo chicken pizza when it opened back in the '70s, but it's popular now, and I like to check out the different permutations of that style when I can.
These slices were thin near the tip (which means that the center of the pie was relatively thin), and slightly thicker near the outer edge. The cornicione was fairly wide and thick, and the crust as a whole was nice and bready. The underside was crackly and medium brown, with some nearly charred spots.
The cheese slice was topped with a slightly sweet / slightly herbal sauce. The cheese - all mozzarella I think, although there could've been some Provolone mixed in there - was not abundant, and seemed to have migrated a bit toward the center of the pie, leaving a fairly wide cheeseless band around the outer edge.
The Buffalo chicken slice had the same good, crisp crust, topped with cheese, chunks of spicy breaded chicken, and a healthy dose of hot sauce. It wasn't mouth-blisteringly hot, but if you like your Buffalo chicken pizza on the spicy side, you'd like this one. The Hornell Pizza King offers a range of pizzas, including thicker pan pizzas, wings, subs and pasta. I'm not sure how up to date it is, but you can see their menu here. Perhaps in a nod to Atkins dieters, it includes the first crustless pizza that I've ever seen on a menu:  the Meat Feast Pizza On A Plate, which is described as "all your favorite Pizza King pizza toppings covered with cheese and served on a very hot plate." Now there's a subject for philosophical debate:  is a crustless pizza still pizza?
Fortunately for me, I don't think I'll ever have to decide the answer to that one. I love a good crust, and Pizza King makes a good crust. Considering its proximity to Giovanni's (which makes for an easy twofer in a single trip) and its historical significance, this is a spot to add to your pizza "bucket" list.
Pizza King, 194 Main St., Hornell
(607) 324-2215
Noon - 11 p.m. daily (unconfirmed - call ahead to make sure)


  1. I generally don't grade places that are well outside the Rochester area, and I haven't been grading Buffalo chicken pizza. The cheese slice would've been in the A-/B+ range. I liked the crust a lot but I would have to deduct a little for the fact that the cheese was a good couple of inches away from the edge.

  2. Thanks for your Reviews in the Southern Tier, so far you have hit My Cousin(Billy g's), My Brother(Pizza King Wellsville), and My Uncle(Pizza King Hornell/Giovanni's Hornell). If you ever make as far as the Houston Texas area, I invite you to come to Pizza King League City Texas. Or Denver/Bouder Colorado, and visit Pizza King in Lewisville Colorado. As you can see we have branched out. Pizza King in Wellsville was opened in 1972 by Peter Giovanniello, My dad.

  3. That's great! Amazing that it's spread so far and wide. I don't know where my travels will take me but if I do get out that way, I'll definitely hit those spots.

  4. LOL at the crustless pizza...5 years ago i would have been all over that...i was a devoted atkins think its actually cool that he has that on the menu.. i know low carbers are out there still...just not me! crust plz!:D