I generally don’t even consider buying pizza at a gas station. For one thing, unless they’ve got a full-blown pizzeria setup, they’re just baking pizzas on premade crusts, with no craftsmanship involved. Plus almost every gas station is part of a chain, and I am not very interested in chain pizza, period.
But sometimes, I go into a station or a convenience store, and see a pizza sitting there in the warmer and I can’t help thinking, it doesn’t look half bad. And maybe I’m hungry. And it’s cheap. So ...
So I broke down the other day and got two slices from Fastrac, a regional chain of gas stations that has some of the cheaper gasoline prices around, at least if you have one of their cards. They all serve pizza, under the name “Slices,” and as gas station pizza goes, it’s not the worst-looking pizza around. So my curiosity got the best of me, and I picked up a pepperoni slice and a Buffalo chicken slice.
The latter was very thin, with a crunchy, almost crackerlike crust that had been docked, i.e., punched with tiny holes to keep it from bubbling up in the oven. The edge lacked any lip or cornicione to speak of, but where the underside was crisp, the edge was hard and brittle, with a good deal of “bite.”
The Buffalo slice was topped with small chunks of plain, unbreaded chicken, an even layer of slightly browned mozzarella, and blue cheese sauce, with a swirl of basic hot sauce for that Buffalo-wing flavor. The overall flavor wasn’t bad, particularly if you like your wings dipped in blue cheese. This was missing the “fried” flavor of pizza made with breaded chicken, but it was also missing the grease that often accompanies breaded chicken.
The pepperoni slice was qualitatively different, with a crust that was about the same thickness, but slightly oily to the touch underneath. It had a certain fried-like exterior crunch, but was soft and spongy inside. The bottom was also pockmarked by several bubbly air holes. And where the Buffalo chicken slice had virtually no cornicione, this slice was thick and puffy along the braided edge, which is consistent with what I’ve generally seen at Fastrac. The cornicione also had a certain sheen to it, similar to a loaf of bread that was brushed with an egg wash before baking, though I doubt very much that this was done here. Probably the shininess was simply due, again, so the presence of oil.
The pepperoni slice was topped with a basic tomato sauce, a modest layer of melted mozzarella, and some nondescript, wide and thin slices of pepperoni. A smattering of dried herbs was visible, and I thought I detected the distinctive aroma and taste of garlic powder.
These weren’t awful, but they were far from the best slices of pizza I’ve had. I should add, though, that these weren’t the best looking slices I’ve ever seen at Fastrac; these came from the East Main Street location downtown, near the Inner Loop, and were not as good-looking as the slices I’ve seen at the Fastrac at the corner of West Henrietta and Calkins Roads. I have yet to try the latter location’s pizza, so I’m not passing judgment here on Fastrac as a whole, though if the quality does vary much from one location to another, that’s an issue in itself.
As for these slices, I’d say they were below average for this area. Maybe not by a lot, but nonetheless below average, and so I have to give them a D.
Fastrac, 672 East Main Street, Rochester, with other locations throughout Western and Central New York.