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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Brandani's sheet pizza

For my daughter's birthday party last month, we needed to feed about 12 kids and the occasional adult, so a sheet pizza seemed like a good, economical option.
We went with Brandani's. It's among my local favorites, for its consistently good, traditional Rochester-style pizza: medium thick crust with generous but well-balanced sauce and cheese.
I usually stop into Brandani's at lunch, to take advantage of their array of slices. I also do the occasional takeout pie for dinner.
But I don't often have a reason to get a full sheet pizza, from Brandani's or anywhere else. When I've had sheet pizza, too often it's disappointing, with bottoms that are soggy, spongy or overly oily. Sheet pizzas also are often not at all representative of what you'd get with a pie from the same place.
Not so with Brandani's. This was good pizza, and essentially a sheet-size version of their pies.
Now I'm not saying that a pizzeria shouldn't offer two different styles of pizza, pies and sheets, or thin and thick, or Neapolitan and Sicilian, or whatever you want to call them. Nor am I saying that a pizzeria's "sheet" version ought to be nothing more than a larger, rectangular version of its smaller pie. I'm only saying that a lot of places that make pretty good pie pizza also make pretty lousy sheet pizza. At Brandani's, they're both good, and aside from their size and shape, they're not all that different in style.
I got a sheet with half pepperoni and half double cheese. My thinking was, some kids don't want pepperoni, so half and half seemed good. But I know it can be tricky to bake a pizza with added toppings on only half; either the cheese-only side gets too brown, or the toppings don't cook enough, or the toppings shield the cheese from cooking properly. So I thought double cheese on half would be a good way to go, to keep things more or less even.
And it did work well. The cheese side was spottily browned, but the cheese was still well melted and not dried out. On the other half, the thin slices of pepperoni were fully cooked, and slightly crisp, while the cheese was nicely melted, with a good balance of stringy and chewy. The slightly sweet, tomatoey sauce served well as the third leg of the crust-cheese-sauce triad.
I was very pleased with the crust, which was well browned underneath, lightly charred, and dry to the touch. Again, too often with sheet pizza, the crust is oily, fried and overly crunchy. But Brandani's makes its sheet pizzas the same way it makes its pies, right on the oven deck. The result is a crust that's dry underneath, with a bit of surface bite and a bready, chewy interior.
I arrived early to pick up my pizza, and had a chance to chat with proprietor Joe Cenzi. There may be some future developments in the works for Brandani's, but nothing official yet. I'll pass on any news as soon as I get it. But rest assured, Brandani's will continue to turn out what I consider to be among the best pizza in our area. It's a local classic.
And by the way - the kids liked it too. There wasn't much left at the end of the party.

Brandani's, 2595 W. Henrietta Rd.
(585) 272-7180

Mon. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sun. noon - 7 p.m.

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