Thursday, August 15, 2013
Lucca, Victor, Revisited
It's been a long time since I last reported on Lucca in Victor. This wood-fired pizzeria has been around since early 2009, although I believe the ownership has changed since my December 2009 review.
As I did then, I ordered a small Margherita to go. I thought about getting it to eat on Lucca's front porch/patio, but I wanted to get home, so I changed my mind and got it to go.
The pizza that I got confirmed that it was a good idea to do an update on Lucca, because it was different from the one I had before. Most noticeably, this one had no tomato sauce, but used only sliced tomatoes. It was also considerably thicker than last time, and used shredded basil rather than basil leaves.
That's a lot of changes, so let's start with the crust and work from the bottom up. I was surprised, and a littl disappointed, to see a considerable amount of corn meal on the bottom of this pie. Corn meal does help keep a pizza from sticking to the peel, and I use it myself, sometimes, but it's a tricky thing. For one, it burns easily, and second, it can add a grittiness to a pizza that's not very appealing. And this pizza did suffer somewhat in both respects, as it had a bottom sootiness that detracted from the overall experience.
Corn meal can also add a bit of crunch to a crust, but not here. This medium-thick crust was pretty soft underneath, and more brown than charred. It wasn't unpleasant, in that respect, just not crisp.
And now we're getting into matters of personal preference. With most pizzas (there are exceptions, which I won't get into here), I like a crust that's crackly-crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. But I've had good pizzas that range from stiff as a board to knife-and-fork floppy. Still, when I get a wood-fired pizza, I'm looking for something to distinguish it from pizza baked in a conventional gas or electric oven, and I didn't find much of that here.
Up top, things started with a base of melted, smooth mozzarella, which was fine, as far as things went, but bland and not very noticeable. No real complaints though.
The tomatoes were decent, but ... they weren't great. A Margherita always has tomatoes in some form. It could be fresh sliced tomatoes, as here, a cooked sauce, or something in between, like crushed tomatoes with some herbs, that cook down a bit in the oven. But if you're going to go with fresh sliced tomatoes, they'd better be good. And these were just OK. I've had better. They just didn't have a lot of flavor.
The third component of the Margherita trinity (based on the Italian flag) is the green basil. There wasn't much of that here. A sprinkling of shredded basil added some aroma, but not much flavor. A few leaves of fresh basil added at or near the end of the baking process would've boosted the flavor quotient and made for a more visually appealing pie as well.
I also picked up a hint of garlic - could've been garlic powder - and some background saltiness in this pie. And the thickish cornicione, though not crisp, was pleasantly breadlike and chewy.
This wasn't a bad pizza, all in all. Individually, most of the things I've picked out here are minor. But cumulatively, they took it down from what it could've and should've been. It was of average overall quality for this area, and so it gets a C from me.
Lucca Wood-Fire Bistro, 90 West Main Street, Victor, NY 14564
Tue. - Thu. 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sat. noon - 10 p.m., Sun. noon - 7 p.m. Closed Mondays.