I had known for some time that Flour City Bread Co. had a mobile, wood-burning pizza oven, but I never knew when or where I could find it. Then, thanks to a comment on my Facebook page, I discovered Food About Town, which led me to learn that Flour City has been appearing at the Brighton Farmers Market on Sundays.
So first chance I got, I got over to the BFM, and got me a pie. I ordered a Margherita, which I almost always do, given the chance.
Now before I get to the pizza, let me explain that if you're not familiar with Flour City Bread, you should be. They're at the Public Market, and their bread is outstanding. I love the old-school, established bakeries, but Flour City makes some of the best bread you'll find around Rochester. So I had high expectations for their pizza.
And they were met, mostly. This pizza had a lot going for it. But it wasn't quite A-level.
My initial focus is always on the crust, and it was especially so with this one, given my high regard for Flour City's bread. And this was a very good crust, with good flavor. With far too many pizzas, the crust has almost no flavor, but with the right ingredients and handling, including a long, cool rise, dough can develop a subtle yet unmistakable flavor, and this one had that. The interior also displayed some nice bubbling, indicative of a good rise, especially along the edge. The cornicione was medium thick and about an inch wide, and well complemented the thin center of the pie.
The interior of the crust was very chewy, almost tough. My guess is that the dough was made from high-gluten flour. I liked it - it was like good, chewy bread - but that goes to the balance you have to strike with pizza. High gluten levels will give you a physically strong dough, often very bubbly if made with enough water, but it also makes for a chewier dough.
Where this pie ran into problems was in the execution. It was overly blackened on one side. I don't mean to be a stickler for detail, but this pie was truly burned along one side, and tasted burned along that edge. The oven had a blazing wood fire inside, so I think this pie just needed a little closer attention and frequent turning while cooking.
Underneath, the crust did display some attractive char spots, as well as a light dusting of flour, some of which appeared to me to be semolina. I've found semolina to be a good choice to keep a crust from sticking to the peel, as it doesn't lend that raw-flour taste you get with regular flour, but it also doesn't burn like, and isn't as gritty as corn meal.
On top, the fresh mozzarella was very nicely melted, lending a creamy texture to contrast with the crust. The tomato sauce was thinly applied, and some of its moisture had evaporated in the oven, but as far as it went, it had a pleasant, bright flavor. The basil was rather scant, though, with just a few scattered, wilted shreds here and there.
This was a good pizza, and I'm glad I was finally able to try it. As expected, the crust was flavorful and displayed all the signs of a good, slow, cool rise, which helps develop flavor and texture in bread dough. The best pizzas, to me, have crusts that are reminiscent of good bread, as this one did.
But I'm afraid the execution fell a little short. Flour City makes great bread, and this had the makings of a great pizza, but this particular pie was "only" a very good pizza. I like a charred crust, but at some point you cross the line from charring to burnt, and this was burnt, as well as unevenly baked. I also would've liked a little more tomato and basil, but the main issue was the burnt crust.
Despite those flaws, a very good pie, and I'll give it a B. And I'll certainly try it again.
Flour City Bread Company
Bakery open at 52 Rochester Public Market, Thu. 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., Sat. 6 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Mobile oven currently appearing at Brighton Farmers Market, Sun. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.