Friday, June 29, 2012
Before starting a road trip, I generally check out some places online to investigate. One that caught my eye was Leonardi's, an Amherst joint that consistently gets high reviews - do a Google search for "Leonardi's Buffalo" and you'll see what I'm talking about.
My square-cut pepperoni slice had a slightly oily bottom, with some bubbly spots underneath. The underside was dark brown, and in some areas, nearly blackened, except for those places where it had bubbled. It looked to have been pan-risen and baked, but it wasn't greasy, as some pan-baked pizzas are. It was firm, if not crisp, underneath, with a nice "chew" inside.
One thing I appreciated, by the way, was being asked if I wanted an edge slice or an inner slice. If a place is selling square slices, they should ask. I went for an edge slice so I could see how the outer crust was. I was given a long slice that was about equal to two regular-size square slices.
The slice was topped with a thick, tomatoey sauce marked by some herbal notes, a thick layer of melted, slightly browned mozzarella, and a reasonably generous helping of cup and char pepperoni, which was just blackened to the point of a good crispness along the edges.
Leaving the pizza aside for a moment, I liked it here. Service was friendly and efficient, and it struck me as a good neighborhood pizzeria.
I also came away with the feeling that Leonardi's is probably a rival to Bocce's, which is about a half mile away on Bailey Avenue (and which I've reviewed before). In addition to their physical proximity, the styles of pizza found at Leonardi's and Bocce's seem broadly similar, with some relatively subtle differences (for instance, the sauce here at Leonardi's was, I think, a little less sweet than Bocce's). I'm sure each has its own aficionados, but this led me to wonder if these pizzas represent something of a Buffalo style of pizza. That wouldn't be hard to believe, because regional food styles tend to change more gradually than suddenly as you move from one place to another, and these were similar to, but a bit different from, some pizza that I've had from old-time, traditional Rochester pizzerias. The relatively thick, pan-baked crust, the slightly sweet sauce, the abundant cheese, make for something of a Western New York style of pizza.
As I have done before, I'll omit any kind of a rating here. I'll never do more than scratch the surface of Buffalo pizzerias, so all I intend to do is provide a general description of the occasional Buffalo pizzas that I try.
I will say that this was, on the whole, pretty good pizza. My personal preferences run toward pizza that's baked on the oven deck, for a crisper underside, but I still enjoyed this for its good flavor and well-balanced combination of ingredients. If you find yourself in the area, Leonardi's is worth a stop, for a taste of distinctively Buffalo-style pizza.
Leonardi's, 614 Grover Cleveland Hwy. (near Millersport), Amherst
Sun. 3:00 - 10:00 (11:00 - 10:00 during NFL season), Mon. - Thu. 3:00 - 10:00, Fri. & Sat. 3:00 - 11:00