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Friday, March 29, 2013

Skippy's, Sodus

On a recent eastward trek along Rt. 104, I happened upon a pizzeria I'd never heard of, Skippy's, in Sodus.
If you haven't been out that way much, when you hear "Sodus" you may think of the cute little village on the water. That's Sodus Point. Sodus is a village that straddles 104, about two and a half miles inland. And it's a nice little place, too, even if it lacks the water views of its bayside neighbor.
Skippy's sits on West Main Street, right in the center of town. A bar and a Chinese restaurant, those other essentials of small town life, lie within a stone's throw away. If you're into food generally, El Rincon Mexicano, one of our area's best Mexican restaurants, is also nearby on Ridge Road, which is not the same as 104. Consult a map if you're unfamiliar with the area.
When I went into Skippy's, they had both regular and pan (Neapolitan and Sicilian) slices available, so I had to try one of each. The regular, pie-cut slice was on the thin to medium side. The underside was dotted with screen marks, and was firm but not crisp. It was well browned and had a faint aroma of oil mixed with that of toasted bread.
The slice was topped with a moderate layer of relatively thick tomato sauce, which had a marked though not excessively herbal flavor. The cheese was melted, not browned, but it had congealed a bit.
The pan, or Sicilian, slice was made from the same basic components, but offered a different overall experience due to its thicker crust and having risen and been baked in a pan.
Pan pizza is tricky. It can come out overly soft on the bottom, or crunchy but excessively oily. The worst pan pizzas are oily and soft, like a pancake.
Rarely if ever will pan pizza be as crackly crisp as a pizza that's been baked directly on the oven deck, nor should they be. It's a different style of pizza. But for me, the ideal pan pizza will have at least some bite to the crust, and a breadlike interior, without a noticeably oily surface on the underside.
The underside of this slice was cratered with big popped bubbles, and was nicely browned. I wouldn't call it crisp, but it had a pleasant al dente bite to it, without the excess of oil that's the bane of many a pan pizza.
Because of its relative thickness, I was able to better evaluate its interior. There was some nice, moderately chewy breadiness here, though texturally I would've liked a little more internal airiness. Certainly you don't want big bubbles popping up all over, but the dough here was a bit more compact and dense that it could've been, which for my taste is less interesting and pleasing than a slice that has a more airy interior with bubbles of varying size.
The cheese on this slice was a little browned, probably because the crust of this pizza necessitated a longer stay in the oven than the relatively thin pie. The thin slices of pepperoni were just slightly crisp.
This was decent pizza, perfectly acceptable for a quick bite while passing through Sodus, and worth a short detour off 104. If I lived in Sodus, I'd be good with this as my local, hometown pizzeria, though when ordering a pie, I might ask them if they could bake my pizza on the oven deck. All in all, it was average for this area, so I'll give it a C.
Skippy's Pizza, 14 W. Main St., Sodus, NY 14551
(315) 553-2205

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crust Pizza Kitchen, East Rochester


In August 2009, I published a post about Despatch Pizza Kitchen in East Rochester. (East Rochester, by the way, was originally named "Despatch," for railroad-related reasons.) Despatch occupied the former site of a Piatza's pizzeria.
But the door continues to revolve at this particular address, and the latest entrant on the scene is Crust Pizza Kitchen, which opened in January.
I got a single slice recently at lunchtime. The thin to medium thick crust was generally pale, with some browner areas, and displayed screen marks. It was rather soft, and very pliable. The interior had a little breadiness, but it wasn't particularly interesting.
The slice did have decent flavor and was pretty well balanced. It was toppped with a basic tomato sauce, which was very middle-of-the-road, not too salty, sweet, or herb-infused. The mozzarella was a little browned, not overly so, but enough to make it a little less stretchy than it otherwise would have been.
That probably has something to do with the abundant pepperoni, which was generously if somewhat haphazardly applied. When a pizza has a lot of toppings on it, particularly toppings like pepperoni that benefit from a longer time in the oven, exposed areas of cheese are likely to get browned. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on whether you like your cheese a little bit browned. Me, I like it just to the edge of browning, baked enough to be stretchy but with a faint hint of caramelization on the surface.
Crust's pizzas come in 9-, 12-, and 16-inch sizes, as well as 18 x 26" sheets. There are over 30 toppings available, including several varieties of cheese (feta, ricotta, cheddar, provolone and Swiss), and one of my favorites, fresh garlic. They have an impressive list of 22 specialty pizzas, from a "Mac's Cheeseburger," which, like a certain "big" burger from a ubiquitous chain is topped with 1000 Island dressing, pickles, onions, tomatoes, and American cheese, to a "SeƱor Taco" pizza with ranch dressing, seasoned ground beef, tomatoes, onions, mozzarella and cheddar, plus shredded lettuce that's added at the end.
Crust also offers jumbo-size wings (four sauces), salads, a wide variety of hot and cold subs, calzones, plates, fish fries, wraps, burgers and hots, and a few sweets.
It's a good looking menu, and some of the items, including some of the pizzas, sound good. But this slice, while not exactly bad, didn't wow me. The flavor was OK, but the crust was just too soft, and didn't have enough backbone to stand up to the toppings. That was particularly disappointing given the name of this pizzeria, and the statement on their Facebook page that they “proof” their dough overnight, "which ensures that it has a 'flaky' finish without a 'cracker' quality. If you want to tell the quality of a pizza, look underneath it" The name and that statement led me to think, or at least hope, that the crust would be especially good here.
Alas, for my taste, the crust on this particular slice was not stellar. But I think that CPK's heart is in the right place, and since they've just recently opened, I'm not going to assign this one a grade. This is the kind of place I want to go back to sometime, and give another try.
Crust Pizza Kitchen, 115 W. Commercial St., East Rochester
218-0818
Mon - Thu: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm, Fri & Sat: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm, Sun: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fairfield's, Fairport/Penfield

Fairfield's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon
As I've mentioned before, it takes me a little longer to get around to bars and restaurants that serve pizza, but I do generally get to them, eventually. Recently I crossed another such place off my list, Fairfield's. The name comes from its location near the border of Fairport and Penfield.
Fairfield's is a casual restaurant with a small bar. The menu is split roughly between Italian American mainstays (e.g. chicken french, linguine with clam sauce) and bar food staples like burgers and wings.
And pizza, which straddles both those culinary worlds. So I stopped by recently to check it out.
While you can "build your own" pizza from Fairfield's list of 25 available toppings, they also have 11 specialty pizzas available, and I went with my usual Margherita (which was correctly spelled on the menu, I might add). Margherita pizza was named for an Italian queen, and the pizza created in her honor displays the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag. So Margheritas typically involve some combination of tomatoes, cheese and basil.
Fairfield's Margherita is described on the menu as topped with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, Romano, basil and olive oil. And that proved to be an accurate description, particularly where the oil is concerned.
In short, I have never seen such an oily pizza. Even before I took a slice, I could see a pool of oil surrounding the pizza on the plate. Oil on top, oil on the bottom - it was amazing.
I briefly considered sending it back, but I figured my job is to review what I'm given, so I forged ahead and started eating.
Now here's the thing. Yes, it was kind of gross seeing so much oil on one pizza, but it actually tasted pretty good. Maybe I was just hungry, but I don't think that completely explains it.
The fact is, oil can make food taste better, especially when it's picked up some of the flavor of other ingredients during the cooking process. Fat conveys flavor to your taste buds, or so I've read. That's why vegetables taste better with butter, and why a fried onion tastes better than a boiled onion. Food memories are strong, and I also remember as a kid sopping up the oily sauce from my dad's chicken stew with a hunk of Italian bread. If I made that dish today I'd probably skim off most of the oil, and then wonder why mine didn't taste as good as dad's. And it's not unusual for a pizzaiolo to give a pizza a quick swirl of olive oil, either before or after going in the oven.
So yeah, this tasted good, in a guilty-pleasure kind of way. Problem was, the crust had all the texture of a maple-syrup-soaked pancake. The bottom was nicely browned, but I couldn't properly assess the texture of the crust, because it was so coated and infused with oil. Only along some parts of the edge, which displayed some nice blistering from the oven, did I get a sense of its underlying bready qualities.
Aside from that, the pizza was topped with a smooth, even layer of melted mozzarella cheese. It seemed to be good cheese, in the sense that it had taken on an almost liquid quality, and was not overly chewy or rubbery. The red sauce and bits of chopped basil stayed very much in the background, but added some subtle counterpoints to the richness of the cheese and the oily but tasty crust.
Fairfield's does offer some tempting specialty pizzas, and gluten-free pizza as well. There's a lot on the menu that I like, and rather than me go through it, you can take a look at it here.
Now we get to the hard part. How to grade this pizza? Subtract that oil, and it could easily rate a B, at least. With all the oil, I've been leaning toward a D. I know people have different likes and dislikes in pizza, but I don't think anybody would like this much oil on, in and under their pizza.
Not to duck the issue, but I'm not going to grade this pizza. A single letter grade would oversimplify matters. If I had separate grades for the crust, cheese, overall flavor, etc., it would be different. But from the start I've been giving pizzas one overall grade, and I plan to stick with that. And even if I were to rate the crust separately, I'm not sure what I'd do, because I think it was fundamentally good - it just got doused with oil.
I don't know if this was typical of Fairfield's pizza. Maybe the chef accidentally gave this a way-too-heavy dousing of olive oil. But if so, I would think some of it could've been poured off the plate before it was served to me. If this was typical of their pizza, then I'd recommend cutting way back on the oil. Oil has its place, but more is not always better, and this is a perfect example of that.
Fairfield's Bar & Grill, 2600 Baird Road, Penfield 14526
(585) 383-0767
Monday and Tuesday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm
Wednesday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
Thursday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm
Friday and Saturday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
Sunday 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Valero, Rt. 104, Wayne County

What!?! Gas station pizza? You're reviewing gas station pizza?
Well, yes. No, I have not so completely run out of pizza places to review that I have been reduced to this. But on my recent excursion along Rt. 104 in Wayne County, I was passing by a Valero station when a sign in front proclaiming "NY Style Pizza" caught my eye. My expectations were low, but my curiosity was piqued, and my hopes were high.
My expectations were fully justified. This was some of the worst pizza I've eaten. In fact, I didn't eat it, at least not more than the few nibbles needed to evaluate it.
The self-serve slices were sitting in a warmer on the counter. And I think they had been sitting there for a long time. Now it's true that a slice that's been sitting for a while is probably not representative of what a fresh pizza would be like, but that's why vendors shouldn't let their slices sit for a long time.
The crust on this slice was very thin, which I guess accounts for the "NY Style" claim. But in no other respect did it resemble New York style pizza. The crust was lifeless, with a disagreeably chewy texture, and a browned bottom that was slightly oily to the touch. The corncione along the edge - the saving grace on many an otherwise forgettable pizza - was no less awful, resembling nothing so much as stale fried dough.
Topside, the orangey, oily cheese had been cooked into a solid mass of what can best be described as burnt plastic. What remained of the mostly evaporated sauce was little more than a painted layer between the cheese and the crust.
I kind of like burnt pepperoni, especially of the cup and char variety, so that was the closest thing here to anything enjoyable about this pizza, but there wasn't enough of it to help, and what there was, was welded to the hardened cheese.
Sadly, the two employees with whom I spoke were friendly and helpful. I say "sadly" because I hate to give a bad review to a place where the people seem nice. Please, if you're going to serve bad pizza, then be rude, because it'll make my job that much easier.
But all I can do here is emphasize that I am grading this slice of pizza, nothing more. This may be a fine place to fill up your tank or pick up a cup of coffee or whatever else you need. But as I attempted to eat this slice of pizza, the word that came to mind - it's right there in my notes - was "horrid." It rates an F.
I'm afraid I don't have an address for this establishment. All I can tell you is that it's a Valero station on the south side of Rt. 104 in Wayne County. The Valero website shows a station in that area, but the address given appears to be incorrect. But I doubt that you're going to want to seek this place out, so no matter.

Book Review: the 8-week Healthy Skin diet

I was recently sent a review copy of The 8-Week Healthy Skin Diet by Karen Fischer. I'm frankly not particularly skin-conscious, but most women seem to be, and my wife is no exception, so she was eager to take a look at this book.
The best and most honest endorsement I can give this volume is to tell you that she loves it. After adopting several of the recommendations contained in the book, my wife tells me that her skin is smoother, softer, and not as dry as before. She even tried some of the suggestions (like eliminating dairy foods) on our daughter, who had been having a problem with dry skin on her hands, and sure enough that cleared up too.
One of the things my wife especially liked about the book is that it lays out a clear scientific basis for its advice. And it does contain a lot of information about the underlying science, explaining the meaning and importance of pH, different types of fats, proteins, UV light and more.
The book is well organized, and despite the title, it's more than just a dietary plan. There's a discussion of different skin types, general guidelines for maintaining healthy skin, and specialized programs for particular issues like acne, dandruff and children's skin problems.
The final third of the book is taken up with Fischer's healthy skin diet program, including over 100 pages of recipes. No pizza, I'm afraid, but as long as you're OK with cheese-free pizza, I think you'd be within her dietary guidelines.
Am I following Fischer's program? No. But as I said, I'm a guy, and an old-school guy at that. Unless I have an obvious problem, my skin is not something I give much thought to, even though it is the largest organ in the human body. But my resident expert raves about this book, and is planning to buy copies as gifts for her girlfriends (who I hope aren't reading this). That's a strong recommendation, as far as I'm concerned.
The 8-Week Healthy Skin Diet, by Karen Fischer. Robert Rose, Inc. (2013). 480 pp.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

104 Pizza & More, Williamson

On Route 104 in Williamson, about halfway between Webster and Sodus in Ontario County, you'll find 104 Pizza & More. It occupies half of a gas station, but it's a full pizzeria - this isn't just a gas station with warmed-over slices sitting under a heat lamp.
On a recent stop, I got a single cheese slice, which was basically one quarter of an entire (medium, I think) pizza.
The bottom of the slice was very, though unevenly, dark, and heavily criss-crossed by screen marks. The medium-to-thick crust was rather soft. It was topped with a blanket of browned, chewy mozzarella, and a thick red sauce marked by a cooked-tomato flavor.
This was one of those slices that was better along the edge than in the middle. The edge had a nice bit of crunch and some breadlike flavor and aroma, but the rest of the slice was too soft, too well done, and a bit too oily for my taste. The cheese was also cooked past its optimum point, and had become somewhat dried out and lost its stretchiness. On the plus side, the slice as a whole had pretty good flavor, and the components were well balanced.
104 Pizza & More has quite an extensive menu, with seventeen specialty pizzas and 21 toppings, including such unusual items as tandoori chicken, egg, and sweet corn. All pizzas can also be ordered with either traditional, garlic or barbeque sauce. They also do wings, calzones, hot and cold subs, appetizers, and two dessert pizzas (cherry cheesecake and "mad monkey," with pudding, chocolate chips, sliced bananas and cream cheese or frosting).
It's an intriguing menu, and if I were in the area I'd go back to check it out more. But I wasn't wowed by this slice. It had some potential - as I said, the flavor was good, and the edge of the crust, at least, had some good qualities - but it was really dragged down by the overcooking and the soft crust. I have to give it a D.
104 Pizza & More, 3885 State Rt. 104, Williamson. (315) 589-8483
Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.

Friday, March 8, 2013

And the winner of a $30 Joe's Brooklyn Pizza gift card is ...

Nick Veee! Nick, I don't think I have your contact info so please shoot me an email at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com with your mailing address and I'll get your gift card out in the mail. Congratulations to Nick and thanks to all who entered, as well as to Joe's for their generosity in contributing this donation.
I'll have more giveaways coming, so check the blog, my Facebook page, or my Twitter feed for announcements!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Krony's, Hamlin

Krony's Pizza Etc on Urbanspoon

I've done a couple of posts about Krony's in Spencerport, in January and November 2010, but until recently I never made it out to their western outpost in Hamlin (much less their waaay western outpost in Palm Springs, CA. After I reviewed the Spencerport Place, a reader told me that I should review the Hamlin location, and I always meant to, but it is a bit of a drive, so, yes, it took me a long time. Hey - it may take me three years, but eventually I'll get around to fulfilling reader requests.
I have been to Hamlin a few times, and I remember seeing Krony's there before, but when I finally made it there recently, the physical setting wasn't at all what I remembered. They must have relocated not that long ago, because the building was much bigger, and in a different location from what I remembered seeing.
That may be a sign that they've been doing well, and based on the two slices that I got there, I'm not surprised. I got a pepperoni slice, and a tomato-basil white pizza slice, and both were pretty good.
The tomato basil slice, despite the name, was dominated not by tomato or basil, but by tangy Parmesan cheese and chopped garlic. The flakes of dried basil and the small bits of pale tomato added color, but not much else. That was not a major cause for complaint, however, because the cheese and garlic combination was tasty enough on its own.
The only downside of this slice, for me, was the crust. It wasn't so much bad as just a little too oily, and not crisp enough, for my taste. (You can see the oily sheen in the third photo.) But the oil was mostly on the surface of the underside, and the thin to medium crust was otherwise pretty enjoyable. The outer edge, which was formed into a narrow cornice, had a pleasant balance of crispness and chew.
The crust on the pepperoni slice was noticeably different, and more to my liking. It was not oily, and had a breadlike texture, with some charring underneath. While pliable, it also had a surface crackliness that was absent from the tomato basil slice. It was topped with a slightly sweet, thick tomato sauce, a moderate layer of low-moisture mozzarella, and a reasonably generous application of thinly sliced pepperoni.
Krony's pizzas come in 9-, 12-, and 16-inch sizes, with 21 toppings available. They also serve several specialty pizzas, including a cheeseburger pizza (I love the idea of pickles on a pizza) and a seafood pie. But their menu extends well beyond pizza, to wings, subs, burgers, pasta, soup, salad, and more. There's a sizable dining area, and they also serve beer and wine, plus soft serve ice cream.
Particularly with gas prices being what they are, I don't anticipate making the drive out to Hamlin all that often, but I' glad I did on this occasion. These were two good slices of pizza. I preferred the pepperoni slice's crisp, charred crust, but the tomato basil slice was very tasty indeed. These were good enough to rate a B from me.
Krony's Pizza etc., Corner of Hamlin-Clarkson Townline Road & Rt. 19, Hamlin.
964-7111
Sun. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - midnight (closing time is one hour earlier in winter - if in doubt, call ahead)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Giveaway: Joe's Brooklyn Pizza $30 Gift Card

There's  usually a lag time between my visit to a pizzeria in my posting of a review. And I do have a backlog of reviews of pizzerias I have visited in the past few weeks.
But I wanted to get up a new post quickly after my visit yesterday to Joe's Brooklyn Pizzeria, because Joe was kind enough to donate a $30 gift card for me to get awayto a lucky follower of this blog. I haven't done a giveaway in quite some time, and I like to start them on Fridays, when readership is high. This is also a fantastic way to resume giveaways, because I consider Joe's to be one of the best pizzerias in this area, and because, I think, this is the highest dollar value of any gift card that I have ever given away.
I stopped at Joe's for lunch, and got two slices, although between the two of them they were probably equivalent to an entire pie. At least my stomach told me so, as I was full - happily full - for the rest of the day.
If I had to pick one single type of slice to eat for the rest of my life, I would probably pick a plain cheese slice, New York style. But I've had those, and reported about those, at Joe's. So I was looking for something different this day, and my eyes were drawn to two particular pies, from which I chose a slice each.
The first was a grandpa's slice (on the right in the photo), which is topped with tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, sweet peppers, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, basil, and Romano. This is a pan risen, Sicilian style slice. I have been accused of being prejudiced against thick crust pizza, but in fact,I love a good thick crust pizza, and Joe's is one of the best around.
One problem I often have with thick crust pizza is that it tends to be oily underneath, but Joe's Sicilian pizzas are dry and crisp on the bottom, and the texture of the well-risen crust has just enough "chew" to make it interesting without being "tough."
The grandpa's pizza is loaded, but not overloaded, with toppings - enough to pack a wallop in the flavor department but not so much as to overwhelm the crust. My side slice was huge, and I probably could've stopped there and had a decent lunch.
But I also really wanted to try a stuffed pizza that they had available, which was topped with bacon, spinach, garlic and mozzarella. I'm not even a huge fan of bacon (I like it, I just don't love it as much as some people), but it looked great.
It was delicious but filling. Imagine two of Joe's thin crust pizzas, with toppings, one on top of the other, and you'll get a good idea of what this was like. But again, it was well balanced, with plenty of flavor from the toppings, but with the excellent, crisp/charred crust taking center stage. And the combination of toppings was very good - the meat, spinach and garlic complemented each other very well.
That was more than enough for lunch, but Joe wanted me to try his latest creation, which is a white pizza topped with black garlic. I had never heard of black garlic, but Joe's food supplier introduced him to it. Apparently it's a Korean thing (Koreans seem to be big on fermented foods, kimchi being the prime example) in which garlic is left to ferment for several weeks, which not only turns a black, but which gives it a sweet flavor reminiscent of balsamic vinegar.
As of now, black garlic is only available on slices at Joe's. Depending on consumer reaction, it may be added as a topping option for entire pies. But it's expensive, so it remains to be seen if enough people will order it to justify adding it as a regular menu item. If you like garlic, though, or just like trying new things, look for it among the slices next time you're at Joe's.
Okay, so here's what you've all been waiting for. Joe not only let me try his new black garlic pizza, he also donated a $30 gift card, for me to give away to one lucky reader. Most of you probably know the routine by now, but here's how it works. If you would like a chance to win, leave a comment following this blog post, along with some identifying information. I will choose a winner at random next Friday, in the early afternoon. I will then mail the card to the winner.
If you are the winner, I will need some way of verifying your personal information, and making sure that I get the card to the correct person. So in your response, I either need some contact information, such as an e-mail address, or I need you to e-mail me at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com, with your name and postal mailing address. It would be great if, in your comment, you could include some comment about Joe's pizzeria, or about pizza in general, or about this blog, but that's not a requirement to win. Leave as many comments as you like, but multiple comments will not increase your chances of winning.
I love traditional, Rochester style pizza, and I certainly wouldn't want to see it displaced by the kind of pizza sold at Joe's, which is more indigenous to New York City than to here. That said, I still think Joe's is one of the best pizzerias in our area. And $30 worth of Joe's food (they do wings too) is, I think, enough to make any pizza lover very happy. So comment away, and look for the winner next Friday. I'll be announcing the winner on my Facebook page, and on Twitter as well.
Joe's Brooklyn Pizza, 1100 Jefferson Rd. Suite 23B, Henrietta, NY 14623
Mon. & Tue. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Wed. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. noon - 8 p.m.

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