Thursday, January 9, 2014
Cosmic Patty's, Hornell
Up until recently, I couldn't say that I'd ever been to a (Grateful) Deadhead-themed pizzeria. And I never expected to find one in Hornell in Steuben County, in the central Southern Tier. Ithaca, maybe. But not Hornell.
But that's exactly what I found on a recent trek down that way. Following some hiking in the nearby Phillips Creek State Forest, I stopped by Hornell to check out Cosmic Patty's, a self-described "counter-culture pizza epierience [sic]." That's a quote from the menu. (The photo at left, by the way, is the result of some editing on my part, that I thought fit in well with the overall feel of the place.)
After a brief glance at the myriad photos and posters adorning the walls, I considered my pizza options. The selection was small but varied, and I went with a pepperoni slice and a white slice.
The crust on both these slices was very thin, in fact translucent, as seen in the photo. Now I'm aware of the saying, "You can never be too thin," but that doesn't always apply with pizza. Yes, I have pointed out the translucency of Fiamma's pizza, which I love, but it's a fine line.This pizza skirted that line. There still needs to be some interior, so that you're not just eating a tortilla. That's why, in that post, I said that "the proof of the pizza is in the eating. If the crust were overly dry, or floppy, or flavorless, then its translucence would be no more than an impressive, but purely technical achievement."
Well, opinions can differ, but to me this pizza was balancing on that line, like a tightrope walker. It wasn't just flour and water, but there was very little to chew on. Not entirely to my liking, but if you view the crust as little more than a platform for toppings, then this was that.
The undersides of these slices were faintly marked by screen indentations, and were a blotchy golden brown. They were reasonably crisp. The slices as a whole were a little floppy, but given their thinness and size (they weren't enormous, but pretty big, I'm guessing from a 16-18" pie, and narrow relative to their length), that was probably inevitable. A decent crust, then, but I wouldn't say it was great.
The red sauce on my pepperoni slice was a tad on the sweet side, and a bit heavily applied, considering the thinness of the crust. But I like a good sauce, and I prefer a bit too much over too little, "painted on" sauces.
As for the other toppings, the cheese and pepperoni were unremarkable but perfectly acceptable, and reminiscent of a basic NYC slice. I did like the toppings on the white slice, which included sliced plum tomatoes (far preferable to pale, hard-as-a-rock beefsteak tomatoes at this time of year), spinach that was wilted but not burned, and feta cheese, which added some nice tanginess. This pie was also made using Cosmic Patty's "cosmic seed crust," which means sesame seeds baked into the dough. They didn't add a whole lot to the slice, as far as I could tell, and I tend to be a purist where crusts are concerned, but they didn't detract from it either.
Cosmic Patty's doesn't offer much in the way of specialty pizzas, though they do have a 12-topping "Patty Boy Special." If you want a pie, it's mostly a create-your-own place, and there are 19 toppings to pick from. You can choose a "honey crust" or the aforementioned cosmic seed crust. They also do wings, pasta, hot subs, calzones, salads, and a few fried sides.
And yes, it's a very laid-back atmosphere; when's the last time you went to a pizzeria with a motorcycle (think Easy Rider) in the dining room? And the various posters and other ephemera on the walls of Cosmic Patty's seem to belong there, as opposed to the stuff you see in chain restaurants that looks as if it was just shipped in from some central warehouse to give the place an "authentic" feel.
Overall, I liked Cosmic Patty's, and I liked their pizza. It wasn't among the very best I've had, and I know I've pointed out a few of what I would consider faults with these slices, but in fact I enjoyed them. It's always easier to find fault than to say what's good about something. These did have good flavor, and although the crust wasn't crackly-crisp, it was reasonably crisp underneath. And sometimes you just want a big, thin slice that tastes good and that's easy to gulp down.
I try to keep the letter grades to places around Rochester, so I won't assign one to Cosmic Patty's. And this would be a tough one anyway. If you like big, super-thin slices, you'll like this. If not, you won't. I didn't love everything about it, but for what it was, it was pretty good.
Cosmic Patty's, 104 Loder St., Hornell
Mon - Thu: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm, Fri - Sat: 11:00 am - 3:00 am, Sun: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm