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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wine Review: Graffigna Malbec and Pinot Grigio

As a food blogger, every now and then I get offered free stuff to try, for the purpose of reviewing on my blog. Sometimes I accept, sometimes I don't. I figure as long as the focus stays on pizza, and I provide full disclosure, I may as well get some sort of remuneration for doing this blog, which on the whole is a drain on my wallet.
And if the product has some relationship to pizza, so much the better. So I gratefully accepted a couple of bottles of wine recently from Argentina's Graffigna winery.
Graffigna's 2011 Pinot Grigio is light in color and body, with a slight, palate-cleansing acidity that is balanced by a bit of fruitiness. For pizza, I'd pair this with a white, garlicky pizza or maybe a seafood pizza.
The 2010 Malbec was more full bodied, with a deep red color, and hints of berries and pepper. This wine has won awards at several international competitions, and I can see why. It's complex, yet well balanced. This would be the one to pair with a red pizza, particularly one with a lot of meat toppings. I'd also recommend it for a deep-dish or other thick-crust pie.
Graffigna wines retail for around $10-$13, making them a good value for wine of this quality. Check the South American section of your local wine shop.
Along with the offer, Graffigna provided me with two recipes that they recommend for dishes to pair with these wines. I haven't tried them yet, but I do have occasion to eat venison and rabbit once in a while, so I'm adding these to my recipe collection. I imagine you could substitute beef for the venison, and chicken (preferably leg or thigh meat) for the rabbit.

Venison Stew with Cinnamon & Wine (Serves 4)

By Edgar Navarrete, Affaire Bistro & Lounge, NYC

Ingredients

1 lb. venison meat diced for stew (leg)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 celery root, peeled and diced
3/4 cup flour
1 bottle of red wine (Graffigna Malbec)
2 quarts beef broth (canned)
5 cinnamon sticks
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. tomato paste
salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat up a large braising pan. Season the meat with half of the olive oil (1/4 cup), salt and pepper.
Heat the rest of the olive oil (1/4 cup) in the braising pan and cook the venison for about three minutes on each side. Remove from pan.
Put the vegetables in the pan and sauté for about three minutes, season with salt and pepper. Once the vegetables begin to soften, add the venison and mix. Sprinkle flour on top and continue mixing.
Once the flour is cooked (when you can no longer see it) add the wine, beef broth, cinnamon sticks, parsley and thyme, and bring it to a boil. Add sugar and tomato paste, and stir until incorporated. Cover with aluminum foil and reduce heat to a simmer (very slow boil).
Cook for one hour adding water if needed. Once the meat is tender, it is ready to serve.

Rabbit Frisée Salad with Poached Egg & Sherry Vinaigrette (Serves 2)

By Edgar Navarrete, Affaire Bistro & Lounge, NYC

Ingredients

2 whole rabbit legs, boiled and shredded
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. minced shallot
1 tbsp. minced chives
1 head frisée lettuce
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 quart water
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 slices of toasted French bread

Directions:

In a saucepan heat the water and white vinegar until it reaches a temperature of 160° and poach the two eggs.

In a separate sauté pan, heat up the olive oil. Before it starts boiling, add the shallots, chives, and shredded rabbit meat, then lower the heat and sauté for one minute.
Place the frisée lettuce in a mixing bowl. Add the sherry vinegar to the sauté pan. Immediately turn it off when it reaches a boil and mix it with the lettuce carefully. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the two slices of bread in the pan, keeping it off while you finish setting up the salad. Serve on a plate or in a bowl with the poached egg on top and the sliced bread on the side.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Detour Pizza, Lima

If you happen to be driving along Rt. 15A in Lima, and you see a detour sign, think twice before you go heading off in another direction.
Then again, you may want to turn off the road at that point, since you may have arrived at Detour Pizza (or maybe it's Pizza Detour - it's hard to tell from their logo), which opened recently about a quarter mile south of Rts. 5 and 20.
The sign out front advertises New York style pizza, so I was eager to try this. What I got was not quite what I would call New York style pizza, but it wasn't bad.
There were two kinds of slices when I stopped in around lunchtime, pepperoni and veggie. The latter appeared to have mushrooms on them, which are one of the few foods I cannot abide, so I got two of the pepperoni slices. They came with a 12 oz. drink for less than $5, which is a pretty good deal.
The crust on these was thin to medium, quite thin toward the tip of the slices (that is, the middle of the pie), but gradually thickening nearer the outer edge.
The underside was reminiscent of some slices I've gotten at some Pontillo's locations, with distinct blackened areas here and there, suggesting a particularly hot oven deck. (As an aside, sometimes you see pizzas with a lot of charring around the edge of the pie, but I think that's more common with pizza from a wood-fired oven, since the heat from the fire radiates from the back of the oven toward the pizza, inches away from the flame. The charring here seemed to be more the result of conductive heat passing directly from the oven deck to the bottom of the crust.)
The crust had a nice balance of chewiness and crispness, with a little crackling, and a texture that got crunchier toward the outer edge. I noticed a light dusting of corn meal.
These were quite cheese-laden slices, with a thick layer of melted, chewy mozzarella. The sauce was not too prominent, but from what I could taste of it, it seemed to have a sweet tomato flavor with a bit of herbs in the background.
I've posted Detour's menu on my Facebook page, but in general, they serve up a basic lineup of pizzas (13 toppings, in 13", 16", and 25" x 18" sizes), wings, grilled items, subs (on Martusciello rolls), salads and sides. There is a small amount of seating inside, and delivery is available.
I wouldn't call this New York style pizza, but that doesn't mean that I didn't like it. Yes, it was thin, but as I've said before, thin does not equal New York style. An authentic New York slice is foldable, of uniform thickness except at the very edge, or cornicione, with a crisp, somewhat charred bottom, and enough of a backbone not to flop at all at the tip, when held, folded, at the outer edge.
I didn't actually subject these to that test, but the tips were a little floppy, because they were so thin, and because of the weight of the cheese. But I don't like to get too hung up on labels, and I don't rate pizzas based on whether they conformed or not to a given style. I only mention this to say that if you see the "New York Style" sign out in front, know what to expect.
What you should expect, based on this visit, is good pizza, kind of a cross between New York and Rochester style, generally thin, with a hefty layer of cheese, not a lot of sauce, but good flavor, and a reasonably crisp crust. I found it a bit unbalanced (a little less cheese and a little more sauce would've been welcome), but a lot of people like cheesy pizza, and this was good enough to rate a B-minus from me.
Detour Pizza, 2019 Lake Ave. (Rt. 15A), Lima, NY
624-3060
Sun. - Wed. 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Thu. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Delivery available 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Bit of Brooklyn in Belmont - Billy G's

I'm an avid hiker, and I tend to favor forests in the Southern Tier, which are bigger, more numerous, and more hilly than those around Rochester. Sometimes I use my excursions as an opportunity to check out far-flung pizza places in the small towns and villages along the Southern Tier Expressway, a/k/a Rt. 17, a/k/a I-86. 
After a recent hike in Coyle Hill State Forest in the Southern Tier, I ventured into the village of Belmont in Allegany County. I couldn't recall having been there before, but I assumed that Belmont, like any other small town, would have at least one pizzeria. (I think that's a constitutional requirement, in fact. Or if it's not, it should be.)
Sure enough, right on the corner, across from the stately, neoclassical Village Hall, there was Billy G's Pizzeria, in a two-story brick building that could've come out of an Edward Hopper painting. I wasn't sure if they'd have slices - small-town places are less apt to, as they tend not to get a lot of walk-in traffic - but I figured if they didn't, I'd get a sub instead.
On going in, though, I was pleased to see a sliced pie, half pepperoni, half cheese, behind the counter. I asked for a couple of  pepperoni slices to go.
After a brief reheating, my slices were slipped into a paper sleeve and handed to me. I took them out to the car, where I photographed them. They were thinner than I'd expected, but otherwise pretty unremarkable in their appearance.
I started the car, took a bite and drove away, left hand on the wheel, right hand holding a slice. I made it down to the end of the block before thinking, hmm, this is pretty good. I turned the corner and took another bite. Actually, this is very good. A little farther. Man, this is really good! I've got to write this up on the blog. ... No - I've got to turn around and go back and talk to this guy.
So what grabbed my attention, and my taste buds, this way? Partly, just the confounding of my expectations. Or should I say my lack of expectations? What I mean is, generally, when I've had pizza in small towns, it's, well, "eh." Nothing special. Actually, I don't know if it's truly a small-town thing, maybe that's just my perception, but I've come not to expect much from small-town pizzerias. Usually they run to the thick side, with kind of a soft crust, maybe a little oily underneath, a lot of gooey cheese on top - a good "value," if you equate value with the weight of your food, but rather generic. It might be good, but usually it's just mediocre.
The one thing I don't expect to find in a small town in a mostly rural area is good thin-crust pizza. I mean, I know you can find it, theoretically, but the fact is you rarely do. When I have had really good pizza in small towns, it's typically been pizza that's distinctive (it may have a unique sauce, for example), but more often that not it's on the thick side.
But this pizza was decidedly thin, with a crackly exterior and a bready interior. It was foldable, and when I folded one slice completely, the crust cracked open, but the gluteny interior stretched and held together. The crust had a faintly sweet, bready flavor, with subtle toasty notes. It wasn't far off, stylistically, from New York style pizza, although it wasn't advertised as such.
That crust is what got my attention. The toppings? Well, they were OK, if purely secondary to me. The sauce was slightly sweet and flavorful, with some herbs noticeable. The mozzarella was well melted, if a bit dry from being out of the oven for a while. But the components were well balanced, and the slice as a whole was very - surprisingly - good. A fresh pie might rate an A, but this was good enough for an A-minus.
So to get back to my story:  Right turn, right turn, right turn, and back. I don't know what the proprietor thought when he saw me walk in the door just minutes after leaving, but I told him about my blog, that I was impressed by his pizza. and that I was curious to know more about his background.
Billy G, a/k/a William Giovanniello, proceeded to tell me that his father owns Giovanni's Pizza in Hornell. Before that, he ran another Hornell pizzeria, Pizza King (which is still in business under different ownership), and before that, he was making pizza in Brooklyn and Long Island.
Now why did all that ring a bell with me? Because of an interview I did with with Jim Staffieri of the Pizza Stop over two years ago. Jim - whose place is a mainstay of New York style pizza in Rochester - told me that his brother Joe, who owns Joe's Brooklyn Pizza, another local favorite of mine, had learned his craft from a pizza maker in Long Island, who subsequently relocated to Hornell and opened a pizzeria there. Joe later moved upstate, again worked for the guy in Hornell, and eventually opened his own place in Rochester, as did Jim.
Yup, Billy's dad, Bill Giovanniello, is that guy. (You can read a bit of his story here.)
That certainly explained why I liked this pizza so much. It shares a close connection - a common ancestor, if you will - with both the Pizza Stop and Joe's Brooklyn Pizza.
Now I have to admit, this made me feel rather good about myself for recognizing something special, or at least reminiscent, about this pizza, enough to warrant going back to talk to the owner. More than that, though, this convinced me that I need to get down to Hornell and pay a visit to Giovanni's (and Pizza King). If this one guy has spawned three good pizzerias in Western New York, in addition to his own, he's already built quite a legacy. He deserves some serious recognition.
Billy, by the way, told me that he will be moving his shop to Dansville in the not-too-distant future. He'll have some competition up there, and I hope they all can survive, but I also hope, for the sake of Belmonters (Belmontians? Belmontese?), that somebody can move into the Belmont space and pick up where Billy left off. That would add yet another fine pizzeria to Bill Giovanniello's pizza progeny.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Visit to 2 Ton Tony's

2 Ton Tony's on Urbanspoon
I found myself in Irondequoit the other day around lunchtime, which made a good excuse for a visit to 2 Ton Tony's. I've reviewed Tony's before, and have always liked both his pizza and his dedication to his craft. I won't recite the whole history again, but Tony's commitment to the pizzaiolo's art come as a surprise, since the roots of his pizza go back decades, to the long-gone Proietti's on North Goodman Street. In short, there's a lot of family heritage here. (And at Tony's uncle's place, Proietti's in Webster.)
I had a couple of pepperoni and banana pepper slices - actually, one giant slice, which is how they come, cut in half. They were thin and foldable, with a firm crust, somewhat herbal tomato sauce, nicely melted mozzarella, and meaty, spicy pepperoni. Fresh out of the oven, the aroma of the vinegary hot peppers and the meaty pepperoni was reminiscent of Buffalo wings, which is about as intoxicating as it gets, for my money.
Pizzas at Tony's spend some time on a screen, but are finished off on the oven's stone deck. I've never been a huge fan of pizza screens, but though a lot of screen pizzas that I've tried have a very soft, oily crust (which is the exact opposite of what the screen is supposed to accomplish), Tony's slices have a dry, firm, crisp bottom, with some surface crackling, especially nearer the edge. These weren't charred, or as crackly-crisp, as a New York style slice, but this is not New York style pizza. Tony's pizza falls more into the tradition of Rochester's indigenous style, which tends to have a somewhat thicker, softer crust than its downstate cousin. These were also well balanced slices, with a thin to medium thick crust, and a commensurate level of sauce, cheese, and added toppings, and I found the overall flavor quite good.
This corner of Irondequoit remains a hotbed of pizza competition, with Mark's, Cam's, Bay Goodman, and Little Caesar's - and Wegmans - within a block or two of each other. (I've reviewed several of those, and I will get around to the others eventually.) Apparently Tony likes it that way, because he'll soon be opening a second location in another pizza hotspot, near the intersection of Rts. 59 and 531 in Spencerport, where he'll be squaring off against Cam's (again) and Pontillo's, as well as several other places within a mile or two up the road. But from what I saw, 2 Ton Tony's is up to the challenge, and with competition, the consumer is the winner. If you live nearby, check 'em all out and decide for yourself.
On my prior post about 2 Ton Tony's (I'm not counting the post about his Ring of Fire pizza, which I didn't assign a grade to), I gave my slices on that occasion a B, for pizza that was well made, but lacking a bit of crispness underneath. This one was very similar, but a bit crisper, so they get a boost up a notch, to a B+.
2 Ton Tony's, 545 Titus Ave. (same building as the DMV), Irondequoit
Tel.: 266-TONY (8669)
Hours: Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. noon - 9 p.m.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Joe's NY Style Pizza, Buffalo

It's back to Buffalo today, for a quick sample of Joe's, which has gotten high marks on the web for its take on New York style pizza. They also do deep-dish (they're clearly taking a broad approach), but it was the NY style that I was after.
I got a couple of cheese slices, which is the best way, generally, to sample this style - both because the lack of other toppings means you can concentrate on the essentials - crust, sauce, and cheese - and because we're talking here not just about New York style, but New York slice-joint style. Most places that strive to emulate NY style pizza are not after the fancy-schmancy "artisanal" (which too often means overhyped and overpriced) pizza that people in NYC wait two hours in line for the privilege of eating. We're talking the kind of pizza that you can get, for a reasonable price, at countless small pizzerias throughout the five boroughs: thin yet bready, crisp, typically reheated for a minute or two, with a good balance of sauce (which shouldn't be overly seasoned with herbs, sugar or anything else) and well-melted, low-moisture, whole-milk mozzarella cheese.
Joe's slices were appropriately thin, with an underside that was more brown than charred, but nice and crisp, with some light surface crackling. The crust was also foldable, meaning that it could be folded down the middle without cracking in two, but not so floppy as to have the tip drop downward.
The slices were topped by a thin layer of sauce, which had a straightforward, tomatoey flavor, and an even blanket of mozzarella. The three components were well balanced.
Lots of places claim to make New York style pizza, when all they do is make thin-crust pizza. Sorry, but it ain't the same thing. This, though, was a pretty good example of the style. I can't say that it was a truly outstanding example, primarily because the crust didn't quite have that slight charring that I would expect.
Not to digress, but I guess I should explain - what I'm looking for, specifically, with NY style pizza is a crust that's mostly fairly light in color, but with significant blackened, but not burned, areas. If it's uniformly browned, that's not quite right, for the style. The former gives you a crisp but chewy crust, with toasty overtones, while the latter gives you, well, a browned crust, kind of like the outside of a loaf of bread. Still good, perhaps, but without the subtle contrasts of flavor, aroma and texture that you'll find in a great NY style slice.
Having said all that, the bottom line is how much I like the pizza, not whether it conforms to some preconceived notions of mine. As for these, well, if I had gotten them in a slice joint in the City, I'd be happy with them, but I would only consider them average.
But even average pizza in New York City is pretty good, as far as I'm concerned. And true New York style pizza is not always easy to find in Western New York. Not that I would ever want New York style pizza to supplant our native regional styles (and Buffalo has its own style, which I think is subtly different from Rochester's pizza), but it's still nice to find good New York style pizza in these parts. This pizza was among the better, if not the best, examples that I've tried around here.
I haven't been rating the Buffalo pizzerias that I report on, because I know most readers, if they're searching for a place on this site, are looking for something in the Rochester area, and because I know that I'll never come close to covering the full Buffalo pizza scene, so it's tough for me to rate them, since my ratings are based in part on how pizzerias stack up against their area competitors. So I won't assign a grade to this pizza either. But I will say that I liked it, and that if you're looking for New York style pizza in Buffalo, this would be a good place to go.
Joe's NY Style Pizza, 345 Amherst St., Buffalo
Tel. (716) 447-0165
Hours: Mon. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. - midnight, Sun. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Product Review: Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza Wine



I was recently sent a bottle of wine from Campo Viejo, for review purposes. Campo Viejo is a half-century-old Spanish winery that produces a full range of wines.
With a name that's a mouthful in itself, Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza is a medium-bodied red wine that's aged in oak barrels for 12 months before being bottled, after which it's aged for several more months before being sold. It's a blended wine made mostly from Tempranillo grapes,
I shared a bottle with some friends recently, over pizza. The consensus was that this wine made a good pizza partner. It had some fruitiness, balanced by tannic notes, a faint spiciness, and a background oakiness. And it was generally agreed that this was a versatile wine. It made a good companion for both the tomato sauce and the cheese on our pizza, so it would be a natural for other tomato- and cheese-based dishes, with a cheese sampler, or with both red and white meats. At about $10 a bottle, this would make a nice addition to your wine rack, or a gift for your dinner host.
Campo Viejo Riojo Crianza
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: $10.00 (approx.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

And the Winner Is ...

Meg! After assigning each comment a number, I went to random.org, and Meg@A Dash of Nutmeg is the winner of a $25 gift certificate from Sully's Brickyard Pub.
Meg, I don't think I have your address, so please email me at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com, and send me your mailing address. I'll get your certificate out to you. Congratulations and thank you to all who participated. I will try to continue to make these contests a regular feature on the blog.

Pizza D's, Mendon

Thanks to a reader, I learned about the recent opening of a new pizzeria in Mendon, Pizza D's. (I try to keep up with pizza openings and closings, but I do rely a lot on readers to keep me up to date, so please let me know of recent discoveries.) Pizza D's occupies the former site of  a Pontillo's pizzeria.
I ordered an 18-inch large pie, half pepperoni, half sweet peppers and onions, along with some wings.
The crust on my pie was thin to medium, with a dry, firm bottom that I would call "nearly" charred. It had some dark brown areas that weren't quite blackened. I'm guessing Pizza D's individual slices would be good, as a reheating would give the underside a little more of a charred, toasty flavor and aroma. But it was pretty good as it was. The bottom was lightly dusted with corn meal, not much, but just enough to help slide it off the peel.
The crust was topped with a moderately flavored sauce. It was the type I call "middle of the road" - tomatoey, not too salty, not too sweet, not too "herbal". If you like an assertively flavored sauce, you might consider this on the bland side, but I liked it, and it also had a good texture, neither dried out nor watery.
The cheese was just a bit browned. Pizza D's uses whole milk mozzarella, with a pinch of Romano. I can't say that I tasted the Romano, but the mozzarella was pretty good, not stringy or gooey, but also not dried out or oily. The three parts of the pizza trinity here - crust, sauce, and cheese - were well balanced and blended well.
The extra toppings were good too, nothing remarkable, but good. The pepperoni slices were thin, with a slightly crisp texture and meaty flavor, and the veggies were fresh.
The edge of the crust was medium thick, and displayed some nice breadiness, as seen in the bottom photo. All in all, a good pie.
No photos, I'm afraid, but the wings were pretty good too, with a reasonable amount of meat on their bones and a true-to-style medium Buffalo sauce. I ordered mine regular, but Pizza D's also offers "Char-B-Q" wings, which are fried and then grilled for some extra crunch and grilled flavor. I plan to try those next time. Oh, and they serve celery sticks with their wings, which you don't always get anymore, but which I still like (and they were crisp, not bendy).
Which means I think there will be a next time. I often feel like "so many pizzerias, so little time," so I don't always get back to places as soon as I'd like, but Pizza D's will be on my go-to list. This was good pizza, a bit generic, perhaps, but well made. And considering that they'd only been open a short time when I went, that's pretty promising for the future.
If you go, you should know that Pizza D's offers a very wide range of toppings, including - and this may be a first around here - black truffle oil. By my count, there are 13 specialty pizzas available. I'll give a special mention to "The Godfather," which comes with red sauce, chopped garlic, mozzarella, and ... are you ready? pepperoni, capicola, salami, meatballs, pastrami and Italian sausage. I don't think that's for me, but it deserves note for the sheer abundance of meat on one pizza.
Pizza D's wings also come with several varieties of sauce, and they serve hot and cold subs, calzones, pasta, finger foods and salads. There is some seating, and they deliver for a $2 charge.
So - I liked this pizza. I won't give it a top rating, not because I didn't like it, but only because, as good as it was, it wasn't particularly distinctive, and so it wasn't something I would drive many miles out of my way for. If I lived on the other side of the county, I could probably find something roughly equivalent closer to home.
But, having said that, this was a well made, tasty pizza, and certainly a good option for folks in the Mendon area. That's good enough to rate a B+ from me.
Pizza D's, 1350 Pittsford Mendon Rd. (Mendon Commons), Mendon, NY 14506
Tel.: 582-6087
Hours: Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. noon - 9 p.m.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Russo's Clubhouse Pizza, Revisited

It's been some two and a half years since my last visit to Russo's Clubhouse Pizza on Long Pond Road. It's way up by the Parkway and I don't get up that way too often.
But it was past time to go back, so I took advantage of having to run an errand up that way and stopped in for a slice.
This was as fresh a slice as you could get, having literally just come out of the oven. So as is often the case with hot, fresh slices, it was a little sloppy looking, since the cheese hadn't had much time to set.
This slice had a thin to medium crust, which had clearly spent some time on a screen, but unlike a lot of screen-baked crusts, this one was reasonably crisp (it's always seemed odd to me that the ostensible purpose of a pizza screen is to produce a crisp crust, and yet screen-baked crusts are usually anything but crisp). There were a few small spots where the bottom had charred or blackened just a bit. The interior of the crust also showed a nice rise, with an airy texture or "crumb," in breadspeak.
There was a good amount of sauce on this slice. Again, because the slice had just come out of the oven, it may have seemed more "wet" than usual, but it was on the saucy side. The sauce had a cooked-tomato flavor that was more sweet than salty, but not overly sweet.
The cheese seemed to be straight low-moisture, or processed mozzarella (which is not a bad thing - if you're unfamiliar with the different kinds of mozzarella, go here). It was a little gooey, but good. And the slice as a whole was pretty well balanced between the crust, sauce and cheese. And the pepperoni, which was crisp along the edges but not dried out.
I liked this slice. It was pretty similar to the one I had before (which I gave a B-minus), but - maybe because it was so fresh - I do think it deserves to get bumped up one notch. It was well balanced, tasty and reasonably crisp underneath, so I'm giving it a B.
Russo's Clubhouse Pizza, 496 Long Pond Road, Greece, NY 14612
Tel.: 225-3570
Hours (call ahead to confirm): Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - midnight

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Giveaway: $25 Gift Certificate to Sully's Brickyard Pub

I had lunch yesterday at Sully's on South Avenue downtown (I didn't have pizza - sometimes it's nice to take a break - but one of my companions did, as seen in the photo), and they very graciously agreed to give me a $25 gift certificate, to give away to one lucky reader. I've always enjoyed Sully's wood-fired pizza, and if you haven't tried it yet, you'll be in for a treat if you win (even if you don't win, you should check out their pizza sometime). And of course the gift certificate is good for anything on Sully's menu, not just pizza (their burgers are really good too).
To be eligible to win, all you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this post. I will need some way of contacting you if you win, though, including a postal mailing address, so just leaving an anonymous comment will not do. If your Google profile contains contact information, that'll work. Otherwise, you can put an email address directly into your comment, or you can email me with your information, but you must leave a comment at the end of this post to be eligible. Just sending me an email is not enough. Once you win, I can get your postal address and mail it to you.
I'd like you to check out Sully's menu and include in your comment what you think you'd like to try there, or leave some other comment about Sully's, but it's not a strict requirement. Any comment will do. You can leave as many comments as you wish, but leaving more comments will not increase your chances of winning.
I will pick a winner, at random, in one week, next Friday, February 10. The deadline for entering is noon on that day, although I may not announce a winner until sometime that afternoon. But if you want to be sure to get in, do it by noon on the 10th.
Sully’s Pub, 242 South Ave.
(877) 805-3570

Hey all you business owners, check out where you can get plastic card printing for your own gift cards. Great looking gift cards make for great givaways!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Otto Tomotto's, Victor

Otto Tomotto's on Urbanspoon
There are a number of restaurants around town that offer pizza, but that aren't the kind of places you go to to get a pizza to go. Those tend to take me longer to get to, since I can't just get one at lunchtime or on the way home. But I do try to get to them when I can.
One such place is Otto Tommoto's in Victor. When I first heard about it, I assumed it was a chain restaurant. Something about the cutesy name, I guess. But it's not. It's an independent Italian restaurant, in a strip plaza on Rt. 96, a little east of Victor.
I had dinner there recently with my wife. Pizzas were listed as an appetizer, so I got one as such, although I could've easily made it my entree. With a pasta entree, another shared appetizer that my wife ordered, and a salad (which also proved to be superfluous, given the greens on my pizza), I had way too much food, and ended up taking some of the pizza home.
Otto's has five grilled pizzas on the menu - the original (basically a red-sauce pizza with four cheeses), a mushroom pizza, a "Tuscan Grill" pizza with olives, veggies, herbs and truffle oil, a clam pie, and a zucchini-crusted pie with veggie toppings.
Ordinarily I'd go for the most basic option, but the zucchini-crusted pie was the winner of Otto's 2011 Wooden Spoon Scholarship competition, submitted by Michael Piccone of the Finger Lakes Technical Career Center. Every purchase of this pizza adds another dollar to next year's scholarship fund. And it sounded pretty good, with a grilled pizza crust infused with shredded zucchini, and topped with sun-dried tomato pesto, Kalamata olives, Roma tomatoes (which are somewhat annoyingly, to me, spelled "tomottos" throughout the menu), Feta cheese and roasted peppers. So that's what I got.
The crust was soft, and reminiscent of pita bread. But it was enjoyable - I have nothing against pita bread - and had some added flavor imparted by the grilling, which was evident from the marks underneath. I didn't particularly notice any presence of the zucchini "infused" into the crust, but that's kind of how it is with zuccini. I mean, zucchini bread doesn't sound that great to me, but it's OK because it doesn't really taste like zucchini. Zucchini just seems to blend into dough without adding a lot of flavor or texture. It did leave me wondering, though, what Otto's regular, non-zucchini-infused crust is like.
With all the toppings on this pizza, it was a pretty "busy" pie, but the toppings worked well together, even if the total effect wasn't quite as flavorful as I'd expected. It was almost like a salad atop a grilled flatbread, but I enjoyed it well enough.
And I did like the restaurant in general. I should mention that our other appetizer, "Otto chips" (bottom photo) were downright addictive. These were homemade potato chips topped with roasted red peppers, scallions, Alfredo sauce, bacon, olives and Asiago cheese. As the menu says, they're essentially "Italian nachos." Not exactly diet food, but delicious.
And I must also mention that the service was good. It was good throughout our meal, but what stood out was that at the end of our meal, our server asked if my wife's entree was all right, since she left a lot of it on the plate. When my wife said that she wasn't thrilled with it, our server took it back to the kitchen, and emerged to say that it had been taken off our bill. That's good service, and I appreciated that.
This is one of those places I'd go back to, but probably not for the pizza. I am kind of curious about their regular pizza crust, but there are other things on the menu I'd like to try, and overall I was well pleased with the restaurant. This pizza was so different from conventional pizza - and it was pretty accurately described on the menu - that I don't think it would be fair to rate it. I will say that it's not a bad option, but there are other items on the menu that I'd probably opt for next time.
Otto Tomotto's, 300 Phoenix Mills Plaza, Route 96, Victor, NY
Tel.: 585-742-2070Hours:  Tue. - Thu. 11:30 - 9 p.m., Fri. 11:30 - 10 p.m., Sat. 4 - 10 p.m., Sun. noon - 8 p.m.

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