Friday, February 21, 2014
Since just about everyone who knows me knows of my love for pizza, I get a lot of recommendations. And one that's come up, more than once, is Aniello's in Corning. It's on East Market Street, which is a several-block stretch of restaurants, bars and shops. From what I've read, the presence of Corning Inc. not only supports, but almost almost necessitates a scene that's a little busier and perhaps hipper than what you'd otherwise expect in a Southern Tier city of this size.
And pizzawise, maybe a little more New York City-oriented too. New York style pizza does seem to be more common in the middle and eastern end of the Southern Tier than in WNY, but Market Street is probably an especially friendly environment for it.
I'd been to Aniello's before, years ago, but before I started this blog. So on a recent trip down that way, to visit my in-laws, I stopped by with my wife and daughter. It was a Saturday, a little after noon.
Anniello's is a fairly large place, with several big pizza ovens, and they were doing a pretty brisk business, so I assume slices were moving quickly. The slices did seem fresh, and there were pies going into and coming out of the ovens at a rapid pace.
They had a good selection of slices, and the menu included some other items, like my daughter's sub, which she was happy with. But she's a minimalist where subs are concerned; sliced turkey and shredded lettuce are all she wants, and it's pretty hard to screw that up.
My wife and I both got pizza. She had a cheese slice and a Buffalo chicken slice, while I opted for a pepperoni slice and a cheese Sicilian slice.
The three thin, NY style slices were OK, but honestly, a bit of a disappointment. It's not that they were bad, by any means, but they were more brown than charred underneath, and didn't have quite the crackly crispness I look for in a NY style slice. They were crisp, and they passed the fold test - I could fold a slice and have it stick straight out, horizontally, without flopping - but they lacked the charred spots and toastiness that I expect to find in a NY style slice.
I hate to hold this against Aniello's, because the fact is, I don't think they claim to serve authentic NY style pizza, although I think they have a reputation for that. As far as I can tell, they've never made any claim beyond serving thin-crust pizza, which is not the same thing as NY style. And this was thin, for sure. But it seemed to emulate the NY style, and I would've preferred a slightly blackened, charred bottom. It's not just a matter of esthetics; if the underside is slightly charred, it will likely have a nice, crisp exterior. And this wasn't quite there.
My other quibble with the thin slices was the lack of sauce. Good pizza is all about balance, and a thin slice should have a correspondingly thin layer of sauce, but there was almost no sauce on these slices. The sauce was what I call "painted on" - I could see it, it was red, but I could barely taste it and it was too dried out for me to sense it in my mouth.
The cheese and pepperoni were OK. The cheese was well melted, but not as creamy-textured as the best that I've had. It was certainly serviceable, but not memorably good.
It's rare that I have pepperoni on a pizza that stands out, for good or bad, and this was ordinary thin-sliced pepperoni. At some point, I expect to see some places start offering premium pepperoni (or "salumi," or whatever other designation they use for cured Italian sausage), but this was pretty standard stuff. No complaints, just nothing special.
My Sicilian slice was a definite improvement. It was topped with more sauce and more cheese, as befitted the greater thickness of the crust.
One upside of that was that the flavor of the sauce came through much more on this slice. There was a good deal of herb flavor, with some notes of basil and oregano, overlaying a medium-sweet, tomatoey sauce. The cheese was again nicely melted, with just one "nude" spot.
The crust was well-risen, not greasy underneath, crisp and substantial, and dotted inside by numerous air holes. Aniello's may be known as a NY-style place, but I preferred this over the thin slices.
I didn't try my wife's Buffalo slice, although she was happy with its mildly spicy kick and chunks of chicken. Its toppings included tomato sauce, which some places forgo on Buffalo chicken pizza.
All in all, I liked the pizza we had here, but it had some relatively minor shortcomings. The crust on the thin slices wasn't quite as charred and crackly as I would've liked, and they could've used a bit more sauce. But they weren't bad, by any means, and the Sicilian slice was very good.
I'm not going to try to separate these slices out into separate blog posts. I assume if somebody's interested enough, they'll read this post and figure out for themselves what I thought about the pizza here. So I'll give the pizza here, overall, a B. It was generally better than average, and worth a stop. But if you stop, I'd particularly recommend the Sicilian pizza.
Aniello's, 68 E Market St, Corning, NY 14830
Sun. - Thu. 11:00 am – midnight
Fri. & Sat. 11:00 am – 1:00 am