NOTE (1/27/16): Detour Pizza has closed.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Tom Harrington, the owner of Detour Pizza in Lima. Detour opened about three and a half years ago in a former florist shop on Rt. 15A, just south of 5 & 20.
Tom has a long history in the food service industry. He started off washing dishes at Peppermints in Avon, then moved on to Pizza Land. He’s done some catering, worked for Empire Beef in Henrietta, and delivered Wonder Bread.
After a stint at Kodak (hasn’t half the local population worked for Kodak at some point?), Tom got a job with the NYS Department of Transportation.
But Tom long wanted to open his own place, and when a flower shop/greenhouse became available in Lima, he bought it and converted it into a pizzeria.
Given the building’s prior history, this necessitated a lot of work. Ovens, tables, refrigerator, everything had to be brought in. But Tom was able to buy some equipment at auctions at a reasonable price, and get things up and running.
The “Detour” name, by the way, came from Tom’s wife one night over dinner. And it makes for great signs outside the building. Given Tom’s DOT employment, the name is especially appropriate.
And talk about hands-on: Tom lives in the building, upstairs. That may sound convenient for him, and it is, in a way, but it’s also indicative of the tough road he’s laid out for himself. In the winter snowplow season, he’s getting up at 2:30 a.m., plowing till late morning, then getting back to the pizzeria, where he helps out during the lunch period. He’s in bed by 8:30, and if he’s lucky he won’t get called out again before midnight.
It’s largely because of that huge time commitment that Tom doesn’t make his own dough. He gets frozen dough from Al Cohen’s bakery in Buffalo. He explained that he'd rather have a consistent, good product from an outside source than to make everything in-house, with potentially uneven results when he can't be there to oversee things.
I’m no expert, but I do know that you can freeze dough, for a few weeks at least, with no ill effects. And I can completely understand Tom’s reasoning that if he can’t be at his pizzeria all the time, he’d rather have a consistent product that’s made elsewhere than try to make his own dough of possibly variable quality. I enjoy making my own dough at home, but I often freeze some, with good results. So I don’t have a problem with buying frozen dough, as long as the dough is good to begin with. And Al Cohen's is a well-respected bakery, known especially for their rye bread. (Now a frozen crust, that’s different. But this is frozen dough, not a frozen crust.)
The sauce is made in-house, using a recipe that was developed after sampling sessions with friends who agreed to serve as tasters. And it’s a good sauce, tomatoey, with a nice balance of acidity, salt, and sweetness.
Detour’s pizza is, by design, pretty middle-of-the-road. Tom’s intent was to suit the widest range of customers, and I think he’s done a good job at that. The crust is on the thin side of medium, and the pizza is well balanced, with enough sauce and cheese to complement but not overwhelm the crust. Pizzas start off on a screen, and are finished on the oven deck, yielding a crust that's pliable but firm and slightly chewy.
If you stop by, also consider Detour’s chicken wings. Tom uses “jumbo” wings, which give you more meat per wing. They’re on my to-do list for next time.
For the time being at least, Detour Pizza is closed on Sundays, so Tom can spend some much-needed time with his family. The other six days of the week, they’re open until 8, and until 9 on weekends.
See for yourself what you think of Detour Pizza, for free. I’ve got a large one-topping pizza to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment after this blog post.
Leave your comment by noon next Friday, May 9, to be guaranteed an entry. One entry per person, please.
If you win, I'll need your full mailing address. You can either email it to me now at email@example.com, or wait to see if you've won. I will post the winner here, on facebook, and on Twitter., on May 9.
Detour Pizza, 2019 Lake Ave. (Rt. 15A), Lima
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Fr. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.