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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Southern Tier Tour 2012: Renna's, Olean

If you'll indulge me a bit longer, I'd like to continue my occasional foray into pizzerias in New York's Southern Tier, which more or less corresponds to the route of I-86, a/k/a NY Rt. 17. Our next stop takes us to Olean in Cattaraugus County, which is home to several good pizzerias, including Renna's.
Renna's is a little unusual in that it is an independent pizza shop located within the Olean Center Mall. As I've discovered before, that's not unheard of, and mall pizza does not necessarily mean mediocre, chain pizza.
And this was pretty good pizza. The crust was thin, though not paper thin - about right for NY style pizza, which is what Renna's claims to make. The underside was not quite charred, but it was crackly, and well browned, with some toasty notes.
Interestingly, I found that the bottom of the crust could be easily separated from the top, as you can see in the bottom photo. So what? Well, I imagine that meant that the bottom baked up quickly, from the heat of the oven floor, and maybe the steam created inside the crust tended to create some separation between the top and bottom.
But what was more important to me was that this showed that the sauce and cheese had adhered well to the crust. The top layer of the crust, in other words, was stuck to the sauce and cheese. That's good, as far as I'm concerned, since it means that this was not simply a crust with cheese and sauce lying on top of it, but a unitary whole - crust, sauce and cheese fused together. As long as the crust doesn't get gummy from the liquid in the sauce (which this wasn't), I consider that a good thing.
The sauce was judiciously applied - enough to make its presence known, but not so much as to drown the thin crust. It had a thick, tomato-pasty consistency, with much of the water from the tomatoes having evaporated, and a slighltly tangy flavor, with a definite overtone of dried herbs.
The cheese was all right, not quite as smooth or creamy as I like, but not bad, and again in balance with the other components.
Besides pizza, Renna's offers subs, pasta, and "panzerotto" (or, if my Italian is correct, "panzerotti"), which are a kind of filled pastry. You can see their menu here, as well as this rather bizarre, tongue-in-cheek "history" of pizza.
Having grown up in the area, I know that Renna's has been around since the 1980s, which is a testament to the quality of their pizza. Their hours are somewhat restricted by the mall hours, so I'm not sure if a lot of Oleanders (I think that's the term) are aware of what they've got, pizzawise, right there in the middle of town.
There is, though, an alternative, not far away. Renna's has a second location on West State St. in Olean, in a stand-alone building. Unfortunately, their hours are about the same as the one in the mall, but at least it's a little more easy to see and get to from the street.
So another good pizza in our Southern Tier. Not flawless - it could've been a little more charred underneath, for my taste, and the cheese was adequate but not outstanding - but very good.
No rating on this one, for now. I plan to start revamping my rating system, so the ratings are going on hiatus. But this was good pizza, for sure.
Renna’s Pizza; Olean Center Mall
400 N Union Street, Olean, NY 14760
716-372-8145 | Open 6 days
Monday- Saturday 10 AM – 9 PM

Renna’s West & Mio Gelato Cafe
2703 West State Street, Olean, NY 14760
716-372-6333 | Open 6 days
Monday- Saturday 10:30 AM – 9 PM


  1. I went to St. Bonaventure and one of my Saturday morning rituals would be to go to the mall and Rennas for a few slices and a fresh squeezed lemonade. I really liked Rennas, glad to see they are still making good pizza.

  2. Maybe sometime you can venture over to Jamestown/Fredonia/Mayville to review. As a long-time Rochester resident who just moved to the Southern Tier, I'm dying for some good pizza within driving distance!

  3. I'll keep it in mind next time I'm out that way.