When I first read about Wegmans opening an Italian restaurant, offering pizza, adjoining their revamped East Avenue store, I was both intrigued and skeptical. Wegmans gets a lot of things right, but I'm not sold on them where full-fledged restaurants - or pizza - are concerned.
But I did want to check out Amore, the Italian restaurant attached to the remodeled East Avenue store. You can read about the details of the pizza, and the oven it's baked in, here. As I said, I took a wait-and-see attitude.
I went for lunch with two friends, which gave me the opportunity to try three pizzas. I went with my usual Margherita. One of my companions got a diavolo, and the other ordered a butternut squash pizza topped with shaved Brussels sprouts and roasted leeks.
Each pizza measures eleven inches across, making it about right for one hungry person, or just enough to take a slice or two home with you. The crust on all three was quite thin; not paper-thin, but thin. Think of several sheets of paper.
My friend with the butternut squash pie complained that her crust was not good, and at first I assumed it was just a matter of personal taste. Then I tried a slice. It was heavily coated underneath with flour, giving the underside a pasty texture and a flavor of raw flour. It's common to find some flour on the underside of a pizza, as it helps keep the raw dough from sticking to the pizza peel. But this was too much.The crust was also very blackened - burnt, in fact - along part of the edge.
The diavolo, topped with sopressata and roasted peppers, had a decent crust, similar to the Margherita's, and we all agreed that it was the best pie overall of the bunch. The combination of peppery sopressata, sweet roasted peppers and melted mozzarella made a very nice combination. Despite the name, it wasn't especially spicy, but it did have a little bit of kick. It also came with a small cup of hot oil for dipping, something I hadn't seen before. I tried it, but it didn't seem to me to add a whole lot to the experience.
As for the other pies' toppings, the Margherita wasn't bad. It was topped with a basic tomato sauce, scattered dollops of melted, fresh mozzarella, and torn basil, which were added after cooking. It was rather salty but tasty, and I liked it, even if the components didn't quite come together like the best Margheritas I've had.
The butternut squash pie was likewise not bad, but not quite as good as I'd hoped. It's usually unwise to have preconceptions, but I was expecting something along the lines of the butternut squash pizza that I had at Fiamma. That pie was topped with a squash puree, which made for a nice sauce.
This pie, on the other hand, was topped which chunks and bits of roasted vegetables, including diced butternut squash. They tasted good enough, but overall I found the pie rather dry.
The opinions expressed here are mine alone, of course, but one nice thing about sharing pizza with people is getting their input. And on this occasion all three of us agreed that if we were to rank these pies from best to worst, it would be: (1) diavolo; (2) Margherita; and (3) butternut squash. I'm not going to grade them individually, because part of the issue with these pies was the crust, which can vary from one pizza to another. In other words, just because the crust on the butternut squash pizza wasn't so good doesn't mean that Amore's butternut squash pizza has a particular problem with the crust; the problem is not with that variety, it's a problem with consistency.
I'm giving these a C. There were some issues, as I've described. Overall this was pizza worth trying, and there were things I liked about it, but it wasn't great, and at $12 for an 11-inch pie, I expect a little better. A C just seems right to me.
Amore, 1750 East Ave., 14610
11:30AM - 2:30PM, Sunday - Saturday
5:30PM - 9PM, Sunday - Thursday
5:30PM - 10PM, Friday & Saturday