Friday, February 12, 2016
The Pizza Stop: an Old Favorite, and Something New
Through a combination of circumstances, I recently went for over a week with no pizza. But after literally dreaming about pizza several times over that time, I knew it was time for a pizza fix.
And I knew it was time to get back to The Pizza Stop, one of my go-to places for great pizza. I've mostly been going to new places lately, which has meant neglecting some old favorites. But I can only stay away from them for so long.
When I walked in the door, I wasn't sure what to get, aside from a plain cheese slice. When I'm craving pizza, a plain cheese slice is still what I want.
But I was hungry enough for a second slice. I was initially inclined to get a Sicilian slice, but on the spur of the moment I got a slice of a more recent creation, a sweet-chili chicken and bacon slice.
I went back and forth between them, but started first on the latter. Both slices displayed the crust that puts The Pizza Stop among my top tier of local pizzerias. Thin, crackly yet pliable, with some interior chewiness, and with some charring underneath, but no burnt areas. If the room had been quieter, or if my hearing were better, I probably could've heard the crust cracking as I folded it. It's a classic New York slice, which to me is as good as it gets.
The chicken slice was generously laden with toppings, but not enough to overwhelm the crust, which still passed the "fold test." The drizzled-on sauce had a complex flavor, with sweet, smoky and spicy-hot notes. It well complemented the chunks of chicken and the crisp bacon bits.
Obviously, this is not for minimalist, pizza purists. But one thing to like about The Pizza Stop is that in addition to their classic pies, they're always trying out new combinations. Owner Jim Staffieri told me that coming up with ideas for new toppings and combinations is pretty much an ad lib process; "ideas just come." From there, it's a matter of gauging customer response.
As I mentioned, I went back and forth between these slices, but I saved the bulk of my bites for the cheese slice. To me, a plain cheese slice is the ultimate NY style pizza.
I will confess to having squeezed a bit of hot sauce between the cheese and the cornicione. I did the same, with sriracha, on the chicken slice. Pizza purists may take issue with that, but it's the eater's prerogative to doctor the slice any way you'd like, and I enjoy the extra kick that a squirt of hot sauce adds to the otherwise naked crust. That's why you see that red ring on the cheese slice.
Which was as good as ever. There's not much I can say about it that I haven't said before. When I'm eating a Pizza Stop slice, I could well be sitting somewhere in NYC. Crackly crust, well melted cheese, and just the right amount of tomatoey sauce to balance it all out.
If you haven't been there in a while, don't forget that The Pizza Stop has moved just up the street into bigger quarters. There's plenty of seating, they've also added a well-chosen selection of draft beer, and they've extended their hours of operation. In short, there's no reason not to go there, soon.
The Pizza Stop
131 State Street
Rochester, New York 14614
Monday - Thursday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Saturday, 2 p.m. - 8 p.m.