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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Giuseppe's Neapolitan

I've written several times before about Giuseppe's, a West Side bakery/restaurant/pizzeria that traces its origins back to 1927, making it arguably (everything about pizza history is arguable) the oldest pizzeria in Rochester. (Read more about Rochester's pizza history here.)
On one visit, I picked up a small flyer advertising Giuseppe's "Naples Style Pizza," described as "thin & crispy traditional pizza." This was advertised in two styles:  the "Margareta," with tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano, mozzarella and fresh basil; and the "Bianco," with fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, Romano, mozzarella and basil.
Both sounded good, but I opted for the red pie - given a choice, I'll almost always go with the tomato version, unless I've tried it before.
These pies come in two sizes, small (12") and large (16"). I got the small.
When I ordered, I was informed that on that particular day, they were out of fresh basil. To Giuseppe's credit, they gave me a break on the price, charging me just $5 for what would otherwise have been an $8 pie.
I was fine with that, but I wondered if it indicates that they don't get orders for these pizzas too often. I didn't notice any other menu items with fresh basil, so maybe they don't always keep it on hand. Or maybe they simply ran out. But it is a good thing to keep handy, as I generally do at home. It's inexpensive, and a basil leaf or two adds a nice touch to a lot of different entrees, not just pizza.
But to get back to my pizza, the crust was indeed thin and crispy, as advertised, with a brittle edge and some surface crackling underneath. Giuseppe's regular pizza tends to be on the thin side of medium, with a somewhat soft bottom and a faint feel of oil underneath, but with this, it was as if they'd made an effort to show that they can do a super-thin, almost crackerlike crust. 
Atop the crust was a layer of sweet, thick tomato sauce. It was full-flavored, and while I liked it, it threatened to overwhelm the thin crust. The cheese was applied more sparingly, with melted, irregularly shaped, thin slices of mozzarella interspersed across the surface of the pie. That allowed some of the moisture of the sauce to evaporate in the oven, so that despite the abundant sauce, this wasn't a sloppy or soggy pie. I frankly didn't notice much Romano flavor.
It's a little hard to judge this pizza, without the basil. I think that would've added a dimension of flavor that was missed here. And a more noticeable presence of Romano would've been welcome too. Both of those would've helped balance out the sauce. But I did enjoy this pizza, for its thin, crackly crust and its very simplicity. In short, this was a distinctive, easy-to-eat pie from one of Rochester's most venerable pizzerias, and for that I'll give it a B.
Giuseppe's, 40 Spencerport Rd. 14606
Mon. - Thu. 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri./Sat. 9 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Dining Room opens at 11 a.m. Mon. - Sat. and 4 p.m. Sun.

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