Friday, August 22, 2014
Casa Italiana, Canandaigua
Pizzawise, few things get me as interested as finding out that there's been a pizzeria around for a long time that I never even knew about.
So I was very pleased to learn recently about Casa Italiana in Canandaigua.
Occasional visitors to Canandaigua could easily be led to think that everything of interest is on Main Street or near the lakeshore. But you'll find some gems on the side streets as well. And Casa Italiana is one of them.
Casa Italiana comprises two side-by-side places, a deli and a pizzeria. Most of what you'll find on their website relates to the deli.
Since I didn't have a menu, I just showed up and ordered in person. I had planned to order a pepperoni pie, but upon seeing a Margherita on the chalkboard menu, I impulsively went with that. A classic Margherita is one of my favorite styles of pizza, and though I often go with a simple cheese, or maybe pepperoni pie, a Margherita sounded good.
And it was good, although it had a few, relatively modest shortcomings.
The underside bore some screen marks, which in general raises a red flag with me. In my experience crusts with those telltale cross hatches have often been soft, but this one was not. In fact, it was rather crisp, with surface crackling.
Nonetheless, I would've liked this crust a little darker. Not necessarily charred, but at least a darker shade of brown. As dough darkens, it develops more complex flavors and aromas. Now, I've had pizzas with dark bottoms that tasted and smelled unpleasantly of oil, so darkness does not always equate to good flavor, but this crust wasn't at all oily, so I don't think that would've been an issue here.
The crust was thin, as was the outer edge, or cornicione. The dough didn't seem to have risen much. I like some crackliness, but this was a bit brittle for my taste, and a little more chewiness would've been welcome.
Having said all that, this wasn't a bad crust, overall. A bit too stiff, for me, but it wasn't crumbly, and it was certainly preferable to a soft, greasy crust.
On top, this was an unusual Margherita in that the greens consisted of spinach rather than basil. But stylistic matters aside, it was pretty good. I like spinach (I've come a long way since childhood), and this was tasty indeed. The spinach was wilted but not burnt.
The scattered slices of fresh mozzarella were not silky smooth, but neither were they watery or rubbery. So pretty good, there. The sliced fresh tomatoes weren't especially flavorful (think typical supermarket tomatoes), but the moderate layer of sauce was pleasant, with a straightforward tomatoey flavor. A light smattering of chopped garlic added additional aroma. I'll rarely complain about the addition of garlic.
This is a tough pizza to grade. I liked it, and I'd like to go back, so a C seems a little low to me. But I had some issues with it, and a B seems a tad high. Therefore I'm going to depart from my usual avoidance of pluses and minuses, and give this one a C-plus. And I'm intrigued enough to go back, for a more standard pie.
Casa Italiana, 40 Parrish St., Canandaigua
Pizzeria hours: Wed. & Thu. 11-7, Fri. & Sat. 11-9, Sun. 12-7
Deli hours: Mon.-Fri. 8-7, Sat. 8-6, Sun. 8-4