Friday, June 10, 2016
Mooney's, LeRoy: Beef on Weck Pizza
LeRoy is about at the outer limit of what I would consider the Rochester area, pizzawise. And upon my recent discovery that there were no less than three pizzerias in LeRoy that I hadn't been to, I knew I had to go there.
I'll get to the other two, at some later date, but we'll start with Mooney's. It's in a building just north of the railroad tracks, which I'm informed by a very helpful person at the LeRoy Historical Society was once owned by a company known as LeRoy Transfer and Storage. Presumably the building was basically a privately-owned freight depot. (LeRoy was quite the railroad town back in the day, I guess, with three roads passing through town.)
Many times I like me a good old, plain cheese pizza, or a simple Margherita. But on occasion, I have a taste for the unusual. On this occasion, I couldn't resist trying Mooney's beef on weck pizza. The menu describes it as topped with "roast beef, kosher salt, caraway seeds, au jus sauce and mozzarella cheese topped with a horseradish sauce."
I've seen references to Buffalo-area pizzerias that offer beef on weck pizza, but Mooney's is the nearest I've seen around Rochester. Probably that reflects the fact that Mooney's other five locations are all in suburban Buffalo.
Mooney's pizza only comes in two sizes, "huge" and PFO (pizza for one). Since my daughter didn't want pizza, I got a PFO.
My dinner-plate size pie had a very thin crust. It was browned, crisp and crunchy, though it retained some pliability toward the center. The underside was moderately browned, and dry to the touch, with just a hint of oil. The top side was likewise well cooked, with cheese that was considerably browned.
It was a tasty pie, but I must confess, it didn't remind me much of beef on weck. The shredded beef was good, as was the red sauce, but if the caraway seeds and horseradish sauce were there, they seemed to get lost in the mix. I'm not saying I didn't like it, just that I don't think I would've identified this as a beef on weck pizza.
What it did bring to mind, though, was what in some places is considered typical "bar pizza." Around these parts, pizza that you get in bars is apt to be a little on the thick side, and often prepared using a premade shell for the crust. But as you can see here, in some areas, "bar pizza" denotes a pie that's described as "very thin-crusted," in order to "leave plenty of room in the eater's stomach for beer."
Mooney's pizza menu includes eleven toppings, and five specialty pies, besides the beef on weck pizza. They also do "Eppie rolls," described as "sausage, onions & sweet peppers with mozzarella and sauce rolled and baked to perfection." (I'm always mildly amused by that phrase, "to perfection." First, because "to perfection" is so vague that it really tells me nothing, and second, does that imply that other dishes are not done to perfection?)
Aside from pizza, Mooney's has an extensive menu, with all the usual suspects -- burgers, wings, sandwiches, seafood, etc. But a couple things deserve particular mention.
One is Mooney's macaroni and cheese. It seems to be something of a Mooney's specialty, as it figures prominently on the menu, in nine varieties, including Buffalo chicken, lobster, and Philly cheese steak.
My daughter got a taste of it by ordering a mac & cheese burger, which is simply a burger piled high with regular mac & cheese. I'm not sold on that particular concept -- I prefer my mac & cheese on the side -- but I tried a forkful or two, and they were quite good, with a creamy cheese sauce and al dente pasta.
But that's far from the most unusual burger on the menu. I don't see it on Mooney's online menu, but on our table menus, I spotted a Jell-O burger, which is made with strawberry Jell-O mixed into the ground beef. I believe this is only available at the Mooney's in LeRoy, which of course is the birthplace of Jell-O.
Our server informed me that while she had never tried it herself, the Jell-O burger does have its fans, with some patrons ordering it on a regular basis.While I can't say it sounds good, exactly, I promised myself that next time I visit Mooney's, I will order it. It sounds just weird enough to be interesting, but not completely repulsive, so it's something I really would like to try, just once.
And I do hope to pay Mooney's another visit at some point. It was a casual, pleasant spot, with a home-town-friendly kind of feel. When I do, I will be sure to let you know what I think of the Jell-O burger.
Mooney's Bar & Grill, 65 Lake St., LeRoy
11 a.m. - 2 a.m. daily