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Friday, May 30, 2014

Voula's Winner!

https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-frc3/t1/c183.48.594.594/s160x160/294894_226122250784139_1579096184_n.jpgBeth Scheinman, who left a message here on May 30, 2014 at 9:37 AM, has won a $15 gift certificate to Voula's Greek Sweets!
Beth, please send me your mailing address at rocpizzaguy@gmail.com and I'll get it out to you. Congratulations and thanks for participating. And thank you again to Voula at Voula's Greek Sweets for this donation.

Voula's Greek Sweets, 439 Monroe Ave.

(585) 242-0935
Mon - Fri: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Tony Pepperoni Buffalo Chicken Pizza, and a Giveaway

Tony Pepperoni on Urbanspoon
I happened to be in Henrietta the other day around noon, so I decided to stop in to Tony Pepperoni on West Henrietta Road, maybe a half mile south of Marketplace Mall. I've enjoyed their thin-crust pizza in the past, but it had been a few years since I was there.
I had forgotten how extensive an array of pizza Tony Pepperoni offers, but I was quite impressed with the selection and found it difficult to choose. I was particularly intrigued by one french-fry-laden pie, which I was told was the "Tony Plate" pizza, but in the end I went for a single slice of Buffalo chicken pizza.
I also took the opportunity to speak to owner Mark DiPaola. He and his brothers bought the business shortly after it opened, and he's been at it now for over ten years. As with any good owner, Mark's love and enthusiasm for the pizza business came through clearly in our brief conversation.
The pizza here is generally NY style. It's thin, and made with high-gluten flour, which allows the dough to be stretched into large pies, with a crisp, chewy crust. 
My Buffalo chicken slice was quite good, with a thin, crisp, crackly crust topped with medium hot sauce and unbreaded chunks of diced chicken. 
For this pie, Tony Pepperoni uses a blend of cheeses. I found a base of melted, processed mozzarella, topped with finely shredded cheddar, and I detected some blue cheese in the mix as well.There are different ways to go with Buffalo chicken pizza, but this was a good take on the style, that struck a nice balance between the flavor of Buffalo wings and the underlying pizza base.
Given its relative longevity in the highly competitive pizza business, Tony P's has clearly found a winning formula. When I asked about future changes, Mark told me that there may be some tinkering with the menu, to keep up with current trends. But the menu is already pretty extensive; I count 18 specialty pizzas, and they do wings, subs, salads, and more. A second location is also possible, down the road, but for the moment Mark's got plenty to keep him occupied, between his current operation and tending to a three-kid family at home.
Had I been hungrier, I would have availed myself of more of Tony Pepperoni's slice choices, but this slice alone was large enough to make for a good quick lunch. The rest will have to wait.
If you'd like to find out for yourself how good the pizza is here, here's your chance to do so for free. Mark was kind enough to provide me with two gift certificates, one for a large one-topping pie, and another for a large specialty pie.
To be eligible to win either, just leave a comment at the end of this blog post. If you have a preference as to which you win, please state your preference, and if I can, I'll honor it. I can't guarantee you'll get your preference, but I don't think you can go wrong either way.
Win or lose, stop by Tony Pepperoni's sometime and let the guys know that the Rochester Pizza Guy recommended it.
I'll pick two winners next Friday, June 6, a little after noon.

Tony Pepperoni, 4164 W. Henrietta Rd.
585-334-2830
Open 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pizza Stop Winner

Rebekka has won a $10 gift certificate for The Pizza Stop! I've already contacted her and she's responded, so Rebekka's prize will be going out today.

In the meantime, don't forget to enter the giveaway for a $15 gift certificate to Voula's Greek Sweets, which I'll be giving away next Friday.

Thanks to all my readers for following the Rochester NY Pizza Blog, and I wish you all a great holiday weekend.

Voula's Greek Sweets Review and Giveaway

Voula's Greek Sweets on Urbanspoon
Pizza shows up on menus in unexpected places, so when a new restaurant opens, I always try to check the menu to see if it might include pizza.
Greek, or more broadly, "Mediterranean" restaurants often have pizza on their menus, and so it is that I found myself recently at Voula's Greek Sweets on Monroe Avenue.
Despite the name, Voula's offers more than just sweets. Yes, you'll find those, from the expected baklava to less familiar, but equally enticing cakes and pastries. But Voula's also has a substantial menu of more savory dishes, including pizza.
As an aside, this touches upon the subject of so-called Greek pizza. The term can mean a couple of different things, as explained here, and there is some debate about whether the Greeks should get credit for inventing pizza.
Those are topics for another day. But whether "authentic" or not, a fair number of Greek restaurants around here offer pizza, or some variation thereof.
Voula's take on pizza consists of house-made lagana bread, a yeast-risen, focaccia-like Greek bread, which includes olive oil in the ingredients. After the crust is parbaked, toppings are added and then the pizza is finished in the oven.
Pizzas are offered as a daily special, with the toppings varying from one day to the next, although certain pies show up with some regularity. On my visit, the pizza du jour was topped with skordalia (a garlic-based sauce), onion, vine-ripened tomatoes, flat-leaf parsley, and mozzarella, feta and Kaseri cheeses. One stray Kalamata olive also sneaked in, which was fine with me.
The crust had a light golden brown underside, a crunchy exterior, and some chewiness inside. The edge was crunchier still, with a slight oiliness that was just detectable on my fingertips.
I found this, on the whole, a well balanced and flavorful pie. The crust had a pleasing, bready aroma, and was nicely complemented by the toppings. The melted mozzarella provided a textural contrast to both the crust and the feta and Kaseri cheeses, which also imparted some salty, lactic tanginess. With hints of garlic and the addition of fresh parsley (obviously added after the pie came out of the oven), this made for a tasty and enjoyable lunch.
I'm not going to rate this pizza, for a couple of reasons. One, it falls outside the mainstream of pizza that you typically find around here. It's hard to compare this to an ordinary pepperoni pie. So to some extent, it's an apples-and-oranges situation.
Second, I've spoken to Voula herself, who graciously agreed to provide a $15 gift certificate for me to give away to one lucky reader. And to avoid creating the impression that I'm trading good grades for gift certificates or other favors, I'll not assign any letter rating to this pizza. But I think I've accurately described it and I can honestly say that I enjoyed it.
Now, about that gift certificate: regular readers know the routine by now. Just leave a comment after this blog post. You don't have to provide your full name at this point, but purely anonymous comments will not be eligible to win.
I will pick a winner, at random, in one week, Friday, May 29, shortly after noon. The winner will be announced here, on Facebook, and via Twitter. If you win, you'll need to send me your mailing address at rocpizzaguy@gmail.com.

Voula's Greek Sweets, 439 Monroe Ave.

Mon - Fri: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Friday, May 16, 2014

Pizza Stop Winner - and One More Chance to Enter

Craig Ephraim has won a $10 gift certificate to The Pizza Stop on State Street. Congratulations Craig!
I think this makes Craig my first three-time winner. But as he hasn't won since December 2013, he's eligible (I have started to impose a 30-day cutoff). As a reminder, winners are picked using random.org, by assigning a number to each comment. So there's no favoritism at work, although Craig is, I think, one of my longest-standing readers. So it obviously pays to keep up with the blog!
Craig, I believe I have your mailing address from last time, so unless it's changed in the past few months, no need to contact me.
The good news for everybody else is that I've got one more $10 gift certificate to give away for The Pizza Stop. If you've already entered, you don't need to do a thing. If not, leave a comment after the original blog post - click here to get to that post. And this time I guarantee that Craig won't win. If you've won in the past 30 days, please don't enter. I do check, so I'd ignore your entry anyway.
The winner will be announced one week from today, Friday, May 23. The winner will be announced here, on my Facebook page, and via Twitter.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Another Winner!

Caren, who left a comment here on May 7, 2014 at 12:20 p.m., has won a free large one-topping pizza from Detour Pizza in Lima. Congratulations, Caren!

Please send me your mailing address at rocpizzaguy@gmail.com and I'll get it out to you ASAP.

Thanks to Tom at Detour Pizza for this donation, and to everyone who participated. Don't forget about tomorrow's Pizza Stop giveaway.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Colby's, Rush

Colby's Ice Cream Bakery & BBQ on Urbanspoon
Colby's is a relatively recent addition to the wood-fired pizza scene, and quite new for its area, at the corner of Routes 251 and 15, just off the Rush exit on 390.
Colby's itself - full name, Colby's Ice Cream, Bake Shop & BBQ - has been around since 2011, but it was only late last year that they added a wood-fired oven and added pizza to the menu. I didn't get a chance to try their pizza before they closed for the winter, but they're open now for the season and I stopped in recently.
I noticed one quirk in the menu. I wanted a Margherita, which on the "Specialty Pizzas" part of the menu costs $9.99. It's described as topped with red sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil.
But under "Create Your Own Pizza," I could put together the same pie for $9.49. The sauce and cheese are covered by the basic price of $7.99, and the basil is an extra buck fifty. So that's what I did. I don't think there's any deliberate deception at work here, I think somebody just didn't do their math when they came up with these prices.
Not to digress too much, but another possibility is that the $9.99 "specialty" Margherita includes fresh, as opposed to processed, a/k/a aged mozzarella, whereas the basic create-your-own pie comes with processed mozzarella (if that's your cheese choice). But after a brief inquiry and consultation, nobody objected to my "creating" my own Margherita, with fresh mozzarella, for $9.49, so that's what I did. I know it's only fifty cents, but it was more a matter of my being curious than stingy.
My pie was rather enjoyable. Let's start with the crust.
The underside was dark brown in spots, but not really charred. It was dusted with corn meal, which gave it a bit of surface crunch. The slices were pliable but not soft.
The crust was thin, but not too thin to have some interior chew. A thicker cornicione had been formed along the edge. It was unevenly done, with some areas quite blackened and others lightly browned, or coated with sauce.
Speaking of which, the sauce was a basic red sauce, "traditional" (for this area), as it says on the menu. It was moderately applied, more heavily in some areas than others. I didn't mind that, as a bit of variation can be a good thing, as it gives you a slightly different experience with each bite. Some of that may also be attributable to the crust having bubbled a bit, which can cause the sauce to migrate as the pizza bakes.
The fresh mozzarella was not heavily applied - there were some pretty big bare spots - but there was enough to provide some balance and keep things interesting. And it was nicely baked, slightly melted, a little browned in spots, but not overcooked or rubbery.
I was quite pleased with the basil. It's such a simple ingredient, yet it's so easy to screw up. Put it on too early and it just turns brown and dry. Wait too long, and it's still OK, but never quite melds into the pizza as a whole.
This hit the mark. It was roughly torn, not chopped or shredded, and wilted but not burnt. Nicely done.
Colby's offers a fairly extensive pizza menu, with twenty toppings and seven specialty pizzas (most of which are in fact cheaper to order off the "specialty" menu). One thing that makes Colby's stand out from the crowd is that their barbequed meat - pork, turkey, beef or chicken - is available as a pizza topping. And having had Colby's barbeque in the past, I can vouch for it as very tasty indeed.
You can peruse Colby's menu here, and aside from the pizza I'll just say that they offer something to please most palates. I don't have a particularly sweet tooth, but I do have a weakness for ice cream, and the selection at Colby's is pretty tempting. There's ample seating, including a few picnic tables outside. It's a pleasant place for locals to gather, as well as a quick and convenient stop off 390.
Getting back to the pizza, it was well worth trying. Well balanced and tasty, with a good crust. I'll knock off a few points for the uneven baking, and personally I'd like to see a darker underside. It's easy to blacken the edge of a pizza by putting it close to the wood flame, but a charred underside requires a very hot oven deck. All in all, though, a nice job, and I'll give it a B.

Colby's Ice Cream, Bake Shop & BBQ
7272 W. Henrietta Rd., Rush
(585) 533-3525
11 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily
http://www.colbysicecreambakery.com/

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pizza Stop: Review and Giveaway

As much as I like to seek out new pizza places, sooner or later I'm going to end up back at The Pizza Stop on State Street.
I stopped in the other day for lunch, and got a slice from a "steak, sweet BBQ and peppers" pie.
I love barbeque, and I love pizza. But I'm not always big on mixing the two. It's all too easy to overwhelm a pizza with the assertive flavors of barbequed meat.
This was a nice take on a barbeque pizza, though. First off, the crust was, as always, terrific. Exterior crackling, thin but with some interior chewiness, and enough backbone to pass the "flop" test - in other words, I could fold it and hold it along the edge, without the tip flopping over.
But as I said, the problem with barbeque pizza tends to be that the toppings are just way too much for the crust. Not here.
The toppings on this slice were proportionate to the thin crust. The slice received a swirl of barbeque sauce, chunks of beef, sliced pepper rings, and a layer of mozzarella. All were well balanced, with enough to add flavor without overwhelming the crust. The toppings were not skimpy by any means, but they were added with enough restraint to complement, rather than overpower the crust. And the pepper rings added a nice vinegary kick that rounded out the flavors very nicely.

Now - I've got a $10 gift certificate to give away for The Pizza Stop. That'll get you a small pizza, or most of a medium, or a good chunk of the price of a large. I'll be giving this away in one week, on Friday, May 16. To enter, leave a comment after this blog post. If you win, I'll need your mailing address. So check back here next Friday, or on my Facebook page, or make sure you're getting my Twitter feed. If you'd like, you can email me your mailing address when you enter, at rocpizzaguy@gmail.com.
If you've been to The Pizza Stop, I don't need to tell you how good it is. If you haven't, you need to find out. So don't miss this chance!

The Pizza Stop, 123 State St., Rochester, NY 14614

(585) 546-7252

Mon. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Closed weekends.



Detour Winner

Chris, who left a comment on May 2 at 10:10 a.m., has won himself a free pizza from Detour Pizza in Lima.
Chris, please send me your mailing address at rocpizzaguy@gmail.com, and I'll get your gift certificate out to you. I think you'll like this. And when you use it, please let them know that you got it from the Rochester NY Pizza Blog.
I'll have another giveaway coming up soon, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Product Review: Domino's Specialty Chicken

Although I've made clear my, shall I say, lack of interest in chain pizzerias, I recently got an offer from Domino's to try out their new Specialty Chicken.
I'm not about to turn down free food. And I frankly don't have any grudge against Domino's. I don't typically review them, primarily because I think, if you're interested, you already know what Domino's pizza is like. I'm more interested in local pizzerias.
But I figured OK, I'll try this. I had four choices:  Crispy Bacon & Tomato, Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple, Classic Hot Buffalo and Sweet BBQ Bacon.I chose the Crispy Bacon & Tomato.
And it was certainly not bad. I got a log of thinly-breaded chicken nuggets, with diced tomato and bacon bits, and melted, shredded mozzarella. The breading had a salty/peppery flavor, and they were done right, neither over-fried nor mushy. The golf-ball-size chunks of chicken were easy to pop into one's mouth, and the flavor was pretty good. I could see these as a side with pizza, if you like sides with your pizza.
This is part of Domino's expanding menu. I'll pass along most of what they gave me:

Domino’s Pizza® Introduces Specialty Chicken
‘Failure is an option’ in campaign promoting first new menu item since Handmade Pan Pizza
ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 14, 2014 –While it is the recognized world leader in pizza delivery, Domino's Pizza (NYSE: DPZ) continues to show it is a legitimate player in the chicken business – and beginning today, launches its new Specialty Chicken, the latest innovation to an expanding menu.
The boneless chicken product features a delicious combination of toppings, sauces and cheeses layered over twelve bites of lightly breaded, 100 percent whole breast white meat chicken. The four unique flavors offered include Crispy Bacon & Tomato, Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple, Classic Hot Buffalo and Sweet BBQ Bacon.
“Our new Specialty Chicken is one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had,” said Russell Weiner, Domino’s Pizza chief marketing officer. “Our pizza chefs have taken chicken to a whole new level, using our unique ingredients to create these four bold flavors. There’s nothing quite like Domino’s Specialty Chicken on the market today.”
A national TV campaign beginning on April 21 focuses on not being afraid to take risks – something Domino’s has certainly not been fearful of in recent history – and how some turn out better than others.
“We are proud to be known as a pizza company, but Specialty Chicken shows we are not afraid to step out of our comfort zone and take risks – something that is truly part of our brand fabric,” said Weiner. “Not every risk we have taken has turned out to be successful, but as a brand we have learned that sometimes you have to fail in order to be great.”
Specialty Chicken is the first new product for Domino’s since the launch of Handmade Pan Pizza in September 2012 and will be available as part of its $5.99 mix and match deal.
“Including Specialty Chicken as part of our $5.99 value deal offers customers a great opportunity to try one of the four flavors, along with the choice of one of our other menu favorites – and we can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks,” said Weiner.

At $6.99 for a 12-piece order, I'll leave it up to the market to decide whether that's worth it. Here in the heart of chicken-wing territory, these could be a tough sell, but we'll see. But if you're getting a pizza from Domino's, yeah, I could see adding this on.

Order - www.dominos.com
Mobile - http://mobile.dominos.com
Info - www.dominosbiz.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/dominos
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/dominos
YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/dominos

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review: 125 Best Chicken Recipes

If there's one standby meat in American kitchens, it's probably chicken. I like beef, I like fish and seafood, pork, and the occasional vegetarian dish. But chicken is reliable, versatile, and relatively inexpensive.
So the more ways I can find to cook chicken, the better. I was glad, then, to get a copy of 125 Best Chicken Recipes from publisher Robert Rose. 
Author Rose Murray, who has been writing about food for over forty years, has put together a compendium of recipes covering just about every edible part of the chicken, using a variety of techniques.
Like other Robert Rose cookbooks, this is laid out logically and simply, informative but easy to follow. A brief introduction covers the basics of cooking chicken, including kitchen tools, ingredients, and cooking techniques.
From there, the book moves on to the recipes. You'll find everything from wing recipes to soups, roasts, one-dish meals, and grilling.
Most recipes occupy a single page, with clearly laid-out ingredients and steps, as well as useful side notes and tips. The index is also very user-friendly and complete.
This book was a useful eye-opener. I've cooked a lot of chicken over the years, but I have found myself going back time and again to the same old dishes. And yes, I can go online to search for recipes, but again if you do that, you're apt to come up with the same things every time:  roast chicken, southern fried, cacciatore, and so on.
This book offers a lot more. The basics are all here, but so are dishes that I would either not have thought of on my own, or not known how to prepare if I did, like Moroccan baked chicken, orange-rosemary glazed chicken breasts, and grilled chicken satay with coconut-peanut sauce. But even the most exotic recipes are presented simply, in a manner that any average home cook can handle.
If you'd like to expand your chicken repertoire, 125 Best Chicken Recipes is a fine resource. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much more you can get out of this humble bird.

125 Best Chicken Recipes by Rose Murray. 191 pp. Robert Rose Inc. © 1999, 2003, 2014

Friday, May 2, 2014

Detour Pizza Interview and Giveaway

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 rocpizzaguy@gmail.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
624-3060
Mon. - Thu.  11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Fr. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

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