Friday, February 19, 2016
Uno Pizzeria & Grill, Henrietta
I don't often go to chain pizzerias, and I don't make it a point to review them. It's not simple prejudice; I just figure, reviewing a chain pizzeria is like reviewing McDonald's. Unless you just arrived from Mars, you already know what it's like, and there are scores if not hundreds of sites where you can get other people's reviews.
At the same time, this blog is a record of my pizza-eating experiences in the Rochester area. And I recently had occasion to dine on pizza at Uno Pizzeria & Grill in Henrietta, so I figured, why not do a review?
I was with a group of friends, and we shared two pizzas, as well as some sides. We got a "Numero Uno," topped with sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and chunky tomato sauce, and mozzarella and Romano cheese. We also got a "Farmers Market" pie, with caramelized onions, spinach, sun-dried and plum tomatoes, eggplant, pesto, feta, mozzarella and Romano.
I thought about pushing for one of Uno's flatbread pizzas, but decided against it. I may go back and try it sometime, but this time around I wanted to stick with what their signature style.
Which is not to say that I didn't like it. I don't want to get into the debate about whether deep-dish pizza is really pizza, or a casserole, but this crust had a nice light crunch, and made a good base for the toppings.
I can't claim to judge how good these were as Chicago deep-dish pizza, given my limited experience with the style. I'm not even sure that Chicagoans prefer it over Chicago thin-crust pizza. I think a lot of Chicagoans defend it, as a matter of honor, but also look at it as a style that's largely what tourists get, while the natives are enjoying thin-crust pizza.
All that aside, I liked this. As thick as it was, the crust wasn't dense, and it had a good mouthfeel: a little crunchy, but not brittle or crumbly.
The toppings were good as well. I have an aversion to both mushrooms and eggplant (it's a texture thing), but I was willing to overlook that in deference to my compadres. I just tried to pick the slices without so much of either.
Both pies had a thick layer of well-melted cheese, and the other toppings were evenly balanced. The spinach leaves on the Farmers Market pie were wilted but not burned, and the sliced tomatoes were softened but not overly dried. And both pies had an appealing mix of flavors.
So both pies were pretty good. Despite my disdain for chain restaurants, that doesn't surprise me. I presume that Uno hasn't been as successful as it has without having done its research. They know what people like and what they don't, and they know how to replicate what people like, in multiple locations, with consistency.
I was a little surprised to learn that Uno's dough is made in house, as opposed to being shipped in from a central location. Of course it's made according to a recipe dictated by the corporation, but it was interesting to know that they don't simply get a truckload of dough every morning. The dough is made on site, and refrigerated overnight.
For what it does, Uno does a good job. I don't see it as a threat to local pizzerias, because deep-dish pizza will never take hold here as a dominant style, plus Uno simply has a different business model: it's primarily a casual chain restaurant, not a pizzeria.They've got the formula down, and they follow it well.
A grade? I think a B is appropriate here. This wasn't exceptionally good pizza, but it was enjoyable, and Uno is worth going to, if you're in the mood for this style. So a B it is.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill, 1000 Hylan Drive (across from Marketplace Mall)
Henrietta, NY 14467