Friday, January 22, 2016
Matthews East End Grill
One that's been on my list for a while now is Matthew's East End Grill in downtown Rochester. I stopped in recently for lunch.
Pizza is not the main focus of the menu at Matthew's, so my expectations were tempered a bit. When I order pizza at a restaurant or bar that doesn't specialize in pizza, or that doesn't have a full-fledged pizza kitchen, I'm generally just hoping that it's decent. If it turns out to be very good, so much the better.
Matthews offers seven- and ten-inch pies. The choices are relatively few, but they cover the basics - pepperoni, white pizza, veggie, and a pizza of the day. The available toppings include onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, feta cheese and pesto.
I got a seven-inch pepperoni pizza. As always, I first checke out the underside.
It was crisp and dry, and marked by browned concentric rings. The cornicione (the thick part along the edge) was deeply browned on top, but white along the sides, suggestive of direct, radiant heat from above. From there, the crust tapered to a thin center. The interior was a tad dry but had some chewiness, and a faint bready aroma. With its surface crunchiness and browning, the crust can best be described as toasty.
The toppings were rather good. The sauce was a basic red, but had a rich tomatoey flavor. Despite the deeply browned cornicione, the generously applied mozzarella was not at all browned. It was nicely melted, smooth, stretchy and a little gooey, in a good way; it struck me as high-quality stuff. The wide, thinly-sliced pepperoni was flavorful, and the pie looked to have been given a light dusting of hard, grated cheese, although I didn't detect it on my tastebuds. All in all, the components were well balanced and worked well together.
Matthews is a laid-back place that should satisfy a variety of crowds. There are enough TVs for sports fans, and I'm sure it does a brisk business during games, but it's not overly sports-oriented. The bar and dining areas are well separated, and there's some outdoor seating in warm weather. Owner Carl Falk is often on hand, chatting with patrons and occasionally pitching in behind the bar.
Beyond pizza, Matthews' menu extends to burgers, sandwiches and wraps, wings, salads, soups and other pub grub. They offer a kid's menu and a few desserts, and free refills on soft drinks.
The pizza? Overall, it was reasonably good. I can't say Matthew's is a "must" destination for local pizza lovers, but I can say that if you're dining there, the pizza is worth considering. And that Matthews is worth a visit, whether for a casual workday lunch, family dinner, or drinks and socializing at the bar.
Matthew's East End Grill, 200 East Avenue, Rochester
11:30 - 2 a.m. daily