I don't get to Buffalo too often, so I make no claim to be able to cover the Buffalo pizza scene. But when I do get pizza in Buffalo, I figure it's close enough to Rochester to warrant a blog post. If you live in the Rochester area, you probably make it out to Buffalo from time to time, and if you are reading this blog, you'll want to know where to find good pizza when you get there.
In July, I hit two places in the Buffalo area. I was on my way to the Ralph for a Stones concert, so I didn't have a lot of time to pick and choose. My first choice, Two Guys, had no slices available. So I just drove down the road, and ran across Jacobi's on Walden Avenue.
I think they opened here relatively recently. Apparently this address used to be the site of a now-closed, "R J's" pizzeria. I would strongly suggest to Jacobi's that they work on their web page, since the "About Us" page now consists of a fill-in-the-blank form that hasn't been completed yet. Their home page says they've been making pizza since 1989, but clearly not in this location, so I'm not sure what the history is.
I got a big pepperoni slice. The crust was medium to thin, and the underside showed that it had been baked in a pan. There was a clear delineation between the cornicione and the well browned, bubbly underside. It was flavorful and well balanced, with a uniform layer of melted cheese, crisp pepperoni, and a straightforward sauce, with a tomatoey flavor and salty/sweet accents. I like a crisp crust, and this wasn't that, but aside from that I enjoyed it.
Just down and across the road was Riva's Pizza, where I got a giant pepperoni slice, cut down the middle. It was thinner than Jacobi's, with an underside that was a lighter shade of brown, not so much bubbly as striped. Again, it was pliable, not crisp or crackly, and clearly some oil must have been present when it was baked, although it wasn't oily or greasy to the touch or on the palate. But the crust clearly took a supporting role here, on a slice that was dominated by the cheese.
The pie had just come out of the oven, so I didn't get it rewarmed (obviously that would have some effect on the color and crispness of the underside). The cheese was still hot, so it was a bit sloppy, but in a good way - nicely melted and gooey. It had a mild, slightly salty flavor, and it seemed to be straight mozzarella.
The pepperoni slices were a bit sparse, but what there was, was browned and crisped along the edge. The sauce was added in good proportion to the other components, and had a simple tomatoey flavor.
To look beyond these particular slices, let me mention that Jacobi's has an extensive menu, with numerous specialty pizzas, wings, subs, pasta, sandwiches and ribs. Riva's menu is a little less comprehensive, but still covers all the basics - pizza, subs, wings and salads. (Most pizzerias seem to offer salads, so I assume somebody's ordering them, but for the life of me I don't know who.)
So, two interesting takes on Buffalo-style pizza, not quite as thick as what I expect around Buffalo, but both pretty heavy on the cheese, and with good overall flavor. I can't say I was crazy about the crust on either, but all in all, I enjoyed them well enough.
Jacobi's Pizzeria, 3575 Walden Ave., Lancaster, NY
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. noon - 9 p.m.
Riva's Pizza, Subs and Wings, 3488 Walden Ave., Depew, NY
Mon. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. noon - 10 p.m.