Friday, May 17, 2013
While my explorations have taken me to nearly all of Rochester's pizzerias, I've still got some work to do on investigating the area's bars and restaurants that serve pizza. And I've been trying to whittle away at that list.
So it was that I recently stopped by Merchants Grill, on its namesake road in northeast Rochester. It's a popular bar/restaurant serving food all day, till the wee hours.
And in addition to the usual bar fare of wings and burgers, they do pizza. So that's what I tried, sharing a pie and some wings with a friend.
My pepperoni pie had a medium-thick crust, which was very dark brown to nearly black underneath, and crisscrossed by screen marks. It wasn't particularly oily to the touch, but its color and exterior crunch suggested the presence of oil in the dough, on the pan or cooking surface, or both. The edge was lighter in color but also crunchy on the surface, though the interior did have some breadlike chew.
The pie was topped with a basic tomato sauce, with a straightforward tomatoey flavor, and an even layer of nicely melted mozzarella, as well as a judicious sprinkling of cup and char pepperoni slices. They made for a tasty, well balanced combination.
The pizza was OK, but, perhaps not surprisingly, I liked the wings better. They were meaty and well coated, but not drenched, in a medium-hot, classic Buffalo sauce. I also appreciated the inclusion of celery sticks, although I would've preferred them from the wider, root end than these skinny strips from the top of the stalk.
It's nice to see pizza as an option at local eateries that aren't full-fledged pizzerias, provided that the pizza is decent. And this was decent. I wouldn't say that Merchants Grill is a pizza destination, but if you go, consider gettting a pizza - it's not bad. The crust wasn't the greatest, but it was OK, and to the extent possible, it was compensated for by the toppings, which were flavorful and well balanced. If you were having this as an accompaniment to a pitcher of beer with some friends, I think this would be a perfectly acceptable bar pizza. I wouldn't call this average Rochester pizza, but on balance, it falls somewhere in the middle, so I'll give it a C.
Merchants Grill, 881 Merchants Road
Open daily from 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 a.m. (food available until 1:00 a.m.)