Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Thanks to a reader's very thorough listing of places that I hadn't covered, I resolved to work my way through some local bars and restaurants that offer pizza. In general, these aren't places that you would go to just for the pizza, but if you do go, you may wonder whether you should order the pizza (is it going to be on an oily, brittle or spongy premade shell, or might it actually be good?), so I think it's worth it to check these places out and let readers know a little about the pizza.
And so, not long ago, I stopped at Links, a self-described "upscale" sports bar in the Perinton Square Mall at the corner of Pittsford-Palmyra Road (31F) and Moseley Road (250). Links is unique, I believe, among local establishments for offering virtual golf, with individual stations where you can play golf - virtually - in front of a video screen.
You're more apt to find me at a mini-golf park with my daughter than on anything resembling a real golf course, so the virtual golf didn't especially interest me. But I did want to try Link's grilled pizza.
Is it just me, or is grilled pizza popping up more on menus these days? I suspect that for a lot of restaurants and bars it has the appeal of being relatively easy to prepare - throw a crust on the grill, flip it and add toppings.
The problem is that, from the standpoint of ease of preparation, those benefits are best realized with a premade crust, i.e., a "shell" or parbaked crust that the restaurant buys from a wholesaler. Sure, you can make your own fresh dough, stretch it, and grill it, but if part of your motivation in adding grilled pizza to your menu is that it's easy to make, that would largely defeat the purpose.
I'm not going to say that premade crusts are necessarily bad, but I don't think they're ever exceptionally good. You're essentially talking about taking a piece of flatbread out of a package and heating both sides on a grill. Good enough? Maybe. But great?
Not in this case, at least. The crust on my pizza had grill marks on both sides, as expected, and was rather wet on the surface, I imagine from the toppings. It wasn't soaked through - the wetness was on the outside - but it was not crisp or even al dente firm.
This was a very cheesy pizza, with a heavy layer of melted mozzarella that was almost liquid. It didn't adhere too well to the crust, but that's typical of grilled pizza, since the cheese is not applied until after the top side has already been cooked on the grill.
Beneath the cheese was a thin layer of slightly chunky tomato sauce, which was dotted with some herbs, particularly, from what my palate could tell, oregano.
I was in a vegetarian mood that day, so I ordered sweet peppers and onions (which are generally an excellent, and underrated combination), and I got one more topping, so I went with black olives. The toppings I got were, well, OK. The olives were canned, which I guess is what I should've expected - not too many places slice their own "fresh" olives ("fresh" is kind of a misnomer, since all edible olives are cured) - and the diced red onions and green peppers were fresh. Not to be picky, but I prefer sauteed peppers and onions on my pizza - it seems to give them a fuller, yet mellower flavor. But these crunchy bits of onion and pepper were fine for what they were.
Links' menu has several pizza options, including a "build your own" (which is what I got) with tomato sauce, mozzarella and up to three toppings included in the basic price, a Buffalo chicken pie, Hawaiian pizza, BBQ chicken, chicken bruschetta pizza, and a white Tuscan pizza with olive oil, roasted garlic, mozzarella, tomato and kalamata olives. Actually, that last one sounds so good I'm wondering why I didn't order it. Oh well.
The rest of the menu is pretty extensive, and includes bar staples like burgers and wings, as well as steaks, seafood and pasta. The atmosphere is casual, as you would expect of a place where guys are playing virtual golf a few feet away.
To be honest, I've never been a huge fan of grilled pizza, but some are better than others. This was, well, not bad, but not especially great either. Part of it, I suppose, has to do with one's expectations - if you simply described this as a grilled flatbread, I may have taken to it better. But as a pizza, it was no better than OK. I'll give it a C.
Links Bar & Grill, 6720 Pittsford-Palmyra Road, Fairport
Mon. - Thu. 11:30 am - midnight, Fri. 11:30 — 1 am, Sat. 8 am - 1 am, Sun. 8 am - 10 pm