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Friday, February 28, 2014

Vincenzo's, Elmira

Now and then I have occasion to travel to the Southern Tier, and on a recent trip down that way I stopped at Vincenzo's in Elmira.
Elmira's an interesting place; did you know that it's the site of Mark Twain's grave and a Civil War cemetery and prison camp? (And while we're on the subject, a modern-day state prison, although you won't see that in many guidebooks.)
And some pizzerias worth checking out. I've found that as you work your way into New York's Southern Tier, you tend to run across more pizzerias serving NY-style pizza. Some more successfully than others, to be sure, but the style itself seems to be more prevalent down that way. I'm not sure if that's a simple matter of relative proximity to NYC or just the lack of an indigenous style.
One purveyor of NY style pizza is Vincenzo's. Actually they don't claim to serve NY style, but rather Neapolitan (thin crust) and Sicilian (thick crust) pizza. But their thin pizza is broadly in the NY style.
On my visit, they had about five or six sliced pies to choose from, including one Sicilian pizza. I got a thin cheese slice.
This was quite thin, with a pale but crackly bottom. It  was a little floury underneath, but not too bad.
The slice was topped with a salty/sweet tomato sauce, in pretty good proportion to the thin crust. The mozzarella was decent enough, but nothing special, and there was a good inch and a half along the edge with no cheese. Had the crust been outstanding, that would've been perfectly acceptable, but the crust was, like the slice in general, just OK.
Vincenzo's offers 20 pizza toppings, and 11 specialty pizzas. They also do hot and cold subs ("hoagies"), wings, pasta, salads, calzones, stromboli, and a few other munchies.
I haven't always graded out-of-town pizzerias, but to me this one's an obvious "C." It was all right, not bad, but nothing special. No big flaws but it could've been better, with a crisper crust and a better coating of good cheese. So a C it is.
Vincenzo's Pizzeria & Hoagies, 303 N. Main St., Elmira
607-846-6584, 607-215-7379
Mon. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 4 - 9 p.m.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The New Winner Is ...

Christina, who left a comment here on Feb. 14 at 9:48 a.m., is the new winner of the fourth and final $25 gift card for Six50 in Chili! Christina, if you'll email me your name and mailing address at rochesternypizzguy@gmail.com, I'll get it out in the mail ASAP. Thanks for participating!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Two More Winners!

The winners of the final two $25 gift cards for Six50 Black Oven Cooking in Chili are DJVT (comment left on Feb. 14 at 3:33 p.m.) and Chris (Feb. 19 at 7:44 a.m.).

Chris, you now have a reason to go to Chili. I think you'll enjoy the experience.

From each of you, I need your full mailing address. I'll get the cards out to you right away. Enjoy the food and please let the staff know that you got the cards through The Rochester NY Pizza Blog.

Thanks again to Six50 for this generous donation and to everyone who participated. Keep checking the blog and my Facebook page for more giveaways and pizza reviews!

Aniello's, Corning

Aniello's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
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

Phone:(607) 962-2060
Sun. - Thu. 11:00 am – midnight
Fri. & Sat. 11:00 am – 1:00 am

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our First Two Winners Are ...

Devin (Feb. 14 at 9:06 a.m.) and Alfred (Feb. 15 at 7:49 p.m.)! If each of you will please email me your mailing address at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com, I'll get your $25 gift cards from Six50 Black Oven Cooking in the mail. I'll cover the postage, all I ask from you is that you mention the blog when you go there. Enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

New Giveaway: $25 Gift Cards for Six50 Black Oven Cooking!

Six50 Black Oven Cooking in Chili has generously donated four $25 gift cards to give away to readers of The Rochester NY Pizza Blog. Six50 turns out thin, nicely charred pies from its wood-fired oven, as well as a full range of other dishes, including steak, chicken, seafood, pork and pasta, many of which are also cooked in the aforementioned oven. On my next visit I'll be sure to try their wood-fired wings.
'm happy to announce that the proprietors of
logo

Six50 is on Rt. 33A in Chili, just off the Rt. 259 exit, a mere 15 minutes from downtown. There's a full bar, with some local microbrews on tap, and gift card or not, it's well worth checking out.

I'll give these cards out in two stages. I'll award two next Wednesday, February 19, and the other two on Friday the 21st. Winners will be selected at random shortly after noon.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  You needn't give your name in the comment, but I will need to identify you if you win, so purely anonymous comments will not be considered. Multiple comments will not increase your chances of winning. And if you do win, I will need your full name and mailing address, which you can send me at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

General Hoock's, Reborn

Readers of this blog will know how much I love Fiamma on Buffalo Road in Gates. But going there is always tinged by a hint of bittersweetness, because I'm aware that at one time, that site was home to another great, albeit very different, pizzeria.
For some years, at the spot where Fiamma sits today, you would've found General Hoock's All American Pizzeria. (And there was another pizzeria there before that; some places are just made to be pizzerias, I guess.)
The General, a/k/a Shawn, turned out good, distinctive pizza, and legendary breakfast food, in a place that was part diner, part pizzeria, part bar (minus the alcohol, if you can picture that).
Thanks to a recent edit on RocWiki,I learned that the General was back in operation, in, of all places, a convenience store/gas station on Buffalo Road.
I drove through a snowstorm (so what else is new?) to stop in on a recent midday. Upon entering, I found Shawn behind the counter of his own corner of the store. It's a small operation, but he makes the most of it.
To my initial dismay, or at least surprise, Shawn uses a conveyor pizza oven. But a skilled pizzaiolo can probably make a good pizza in an Easy Bake OvenTM, and Shawn is nothing if not a skilled pizzaiolo. Rather than simply slide the pie in at one end and wait for it to come out on the other, he tended to it, giving it a turn or two before it emerged, crisp and nicely baked.
Good pizza always starts with a good crust, and this crust was very good, crisp yet chewy and charred along the edge, which was formed into a narrow but high cornicione. The crust was on the thin side of medium in thickness. It was topped with a slightly sweet, thick but not dried-out tomato sauce, well-melted mozzarella, and sliced-and-quartered slices of spicy, meaty pepperoni.
I neglected to get or transcribe the full menu, but those of you who were fans of the General in the past will find a number of old favorites here. And old-time fan or not, consider his new signature item, the Infinity Pie, topped with green garlic sauce, rib eye, mozzarella, fresh mushrooms, bacon, pepperoni, ham, onion, jalapeno and cheddar. 
I don't do 'shrooms - bad experience at a rock concert in the early '70s (just kidding, I just don't like mushrooms), but I must try an Infinity Pie at some point.
Gradewise, this is a tough call. An A would suggest that it's as good as could be, but in spite of Shawn's efforts, I'm not sure that it couldn't be improved on, in a different oven. In particular, the underside was baked a bit unevenly. And yet it was very good, and distinctive, which is an attribute that I prize. So although I'm staying away from pluses and minuses, I'll give it an A-minus.
Will we ever see another stand-alone General Hoock's pizzeria? Maybe. The pizza here is fine, but as good as it is, it deserves a full-fledged pizzeria with true pizza ovens. Nevertheless, it's good enough as is to warrant a trip. Whether you want a loaded pizza or just a simple cheese pie, I'd recommend a drive to the corner of Buffalo and Coldwater Roads, for a slice or a pie from the General. His pizza is distinctive,original, and one that I look forward to trying again.

General Hoock's, 3095 Buffalo Rd. (inside Westen Mini Mart)
247-1849
(I'll try to fill in the details as to hours, etc. as soon as I can get them)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Winner #4

Mary Keim, who left a comment on January 28, 2014 at 1:07 PM, has won the fourth $20 gift card from Compané Bistro in Fairport.This card is good for anything on the menu, including their excellent wood-fired pizza. Congratulations Mary!

To get your card, just send an email with your mailing address to me at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com and I'll send it out to you. Enjoy.

Thanks to everyone who entered and thanks again to Compané for sponsoring this promotion.

Watch for more giveaways and pizza reviews soon!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winner Number 3

The third winner of a $20 gift card from Compané Bistro in Fairport is vaandrews123, who left a comment on January 27 at 3:42 p.m.

Vaandrews123, please send me your mailing address at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com and I'll get your card in the mail. Congratulations!

I've got one more card that I'll be giving away tomorrow. There's still time to enter to win by leaving a comment here.

Also, I have yet to hear from mlalibe1, who won the second card. If that's you and I don't hear from you soon I will give it to another reader.

Thanks to all for participating and thanks again to Mario at Compané for this generous donation!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Our Second Winner Is ...

mlalibe1, who posted a comment on January 28 at 11:12 a.m. Congratulations!

mlalibe1, please send me an email with your mailing address at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com and I'll get your $20 gift card out to, good for anything on the menu at Compané in Fairport. Take your pick from their wood-fired pizzas or their other authentic Italian dishes.

I've got two more $20 gift cards to give away. I'll pick another winner tomorrow and one on Friday. If you haven't entered yet, leave a comment here for your chance to win! (If you have entered, no need to re-enter.)

Compané, 80 N. Main St., Fairport
678-4013

Mon. - Sat. 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And our first winner is ...

cjtalbot, who left comment #13 following the post about the giveaway for Compané. CJ (I assume those are initials) has just won a $20 gift card from Compané!
CJ, please send me your full mailing address at rochesternypizzaguy@gmail.com and I will put that in the mail to you within a day.
I've got three more cards to give away, thanks to Compané Bistro, so there's still time to enter. Again, just leave a comment after this post to have a shot (one entry per person though; if you've already entered, please don't leave an additional comment). I'll announce the next winner tomorrow.

Fire Side Grill, Henrietta

Restaurants often seem to cluster together, but some literally stand alone. And for a long time, there's been a solitary restaurant on East Henrietta Road, at the corner of Garden Parkway, just south of the Thruway overpass.
For many years, this was FDR's, which was basically a suburban prime-rib and fish-fry kind of place. The location has reopened, under new ownership, as Fire Side Grill & Sports Bar.
Pizza is popping up on menus all over these days, and when I ran across a story about Fire Side, and saw that they were offering pizza, I added it to my to-do list. So I stopped in for dinner recently, and zeroed in on the pizza.
There were seven specialty pizzas to choose from, and sixteen toppings. I went with a basic pepperoni pie, which is one of my default pizzas. It's as standard a pizza as there is in the USA, so I figure it makes a good benchmark.
Before I begin to describe the pizza, I want to emphasize something I've said before, which is that it's easier to criticize than to praise. It's simply easier to start from perfection, and to say how a thing falls short, than to start from awful and say why a thing is better than that. So while I do have a list of demerits, keep them in perspective, and keep in mind my summation at the end.
The crust on this pizza was thin, overall, and the perimeter was formed into a cornicione (which is a fancy way of saying "cornice," which is a fancy way of saying "edge") that was puffed up thicker in some spots than in others. In a way, I like that lack of complete uniformity, as it tells me that this was probably not a premade shell. Somebody back there shaped this by hand.
But I did have some issues with the crust. First off, it was a little greasy underneath. I've gotten arguments before about whether there's a difference between grease and oil. "Oil," I guess, sounds better, as it may be olive oil, or just "natural" oil that exudes from the full-fat cheese on top. "Grease," on the other hand, is, well, just some unappetizing slick substance that's more suitable for working on your car than for cooking. You can read more on the topic here.
From my perspective, foodwise, oil is something you add to food. Grease is the stuff that's left over after you're done cooking. Others may disagree.
But I digress. My only point was, this crust was a little greasy underneath. Or oily. Whatever. It had some crispness, but was somewhere between an oily crunch and a dry-baked crackliness. The underside was a dark brown overall, a little blackened here and there. 
There was also a little grit underneath. Not a lot, but some. It's common to use corn meal, or semolina, or ordinary flour to help a pizza slide off the peel, but it often turns into blackened soot in the oven, and the oven needs to be cleaned out regularly to avoid a buildup. There wasn't much on my pizza, just a little, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it; I could definitely detect some grittiness as I was eating this pie.
Topside, this pizza leaned toward the cheese, rather than the sauce. There was a thin layer of sauce, which had somewhat soaked into the crust. I wouldn't say that it had disappeared, but it definitely was in the background.
The cheese, though, was quite prominent. Not that the pie was overloaded with cheese, but cheese was the most dominant topping. It seemed to be processed mozzarella, nicely melted but with some oil exuding out. The cup and char pepperoni was very good and well crisped along the edges but not burnt.
The place itself was pleasant enough, and quite a change from FDR, which I'd been to once or twice. There's a gas fireplace in the dining room, which was rather brightly lit; with its white-painted walls, I'd turn down the lighting for dinner, just a bit.
The bar is in the same area as before, and is well separated from the dining room. I see from their website that Fire Side keeps quite a few local brews on tap, which is nice.
I liked it here. The pizza was OK, not beyond improvement, but not bad. I'll take it over one of those restaurant or bar pizzas that's nothing but a premade, dried-out shell with a sprinkling of toppings just before it goes in the oven. I'd like to try Fire Side in another couple of months or so, but for now I'll give their pizza a C.

Fire Side Grill, 3939 East Henrietta Road
486-4611

Mon. - Sat. 11 a.m. - midnight, Sun. noon - midnight

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