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Thursday, March 12, 2009

All Star Pizza, Penfield

All Star Pizza on Urbanspoon
All Star Pizza, on Penfield Road across from Panorama Plaza, claims to "Specialize in New York Style Thin Crust Pizza," so this was high on my list of places to check out. The result was, well, pretty good, though I'm not sure it would make a City native feel as if he'd been transported back to the Big Apple.
I should note, first of all, that All Star does not just make thin crust. The flyer advertises a "Crust-O-Meter" with three options: "NY Style Thin," "Traditional Regular," and "Double Thick." Of course a lot of places will make the crust thicker or thinner on request, but since the flyer describes this as "New!" I'm guessing that thin crust was originally All Star's default or "regular" pizza, and that at some point they decided to explicitly offer three choices, though the emphasis remains on the thin version.
Anyway, I went with the thin crust, since that's my favorite and All Star's specialty. It certainly met the thinness criterion, not a bad looking pie. Checking the underside revealed that it had been baked on a screen (you can tell by the cross-hatching). I guess the theory behind a screen is that the the holes in the screen allow the bottom of the dough to cook by convection and radiant heat rather than by conduction as when the pizza lies directly on the oven floor. In theory that should result in a crisper crust, but it didn't here. Now I should point out that this pizza sat in the box in my car for a good 20-30 minutes before I opened the box, so maybe that had something to do with it, but the crust was not that crisp, and the slices were on the floppy side (ideally you should be able to fold a NY-style slice and have the pointy end stick out straight, without flopping down).

For all that floppiness, oddly, one slice cracked right down the middle when I folded it, but the rest passed the foldability test.
As might be expected, there was also no charring, which is not a huge deal to me, but the ideal NY-style pizza should have some char spots. The edge of the crust was on the crunchy side, in a way that a crust will get when it's got some grease on it or in it. In other words, a fried rather than baked kind of crunch. As you can see, the box also soaked up a fair amount of grease, which may be a good or bad sign depending on how you feel about grease. Frankly I think a little grease (I guess "oil" sounds better) isn't a bad thing, as fat helps convey flavor to your taste buds.
The toppings were pretty standard, with a moderate amount of sauce, and a fairly thick layer of mozzarella cheese that had a tendency to slide off the crust when you removed a slice from the pie or took a bite, unless you were careful to cut or bite cleanly through it. Maybe the fat in the cheese melted and created a barrier between the dough and the cheese, preventing the cheese from adhering to the crust.
I ordered this one half cheese, half pepperoni, although as the photo indicates, what I got was more like 2/3 cheese, 1/3 pepperoni. There's the usual list of available toppings, and some specialty pizzas, including chicken wing, "lasagna pizza," and Philly steak. They also do subs, wings (which are pretty decent), calzones, salads, and various fried sides. Takeout and delivery only. Ask about specials when you order; if I had, I could've saved myself a few bucks.
It may sound as if I really didn't like this pizza, but that's not the case. I enjoyed it. Most of what I said about it was intended only to describe it, not to criticize it. It had a good flavor and was thin enough that I could, and did, eat several slices without getting too full. It's just not, in my opinion, particularly close to what you would typically get at a pizza slice joint in NYC; I'd call it more of an interpretation than an exemplar of NY-style pizza. But measured on its own terms, it was enjoyable enough. I'll give it a B-.


  1. My husband and I, like you, LOVE Rocco's pizza. Mark, the chef, is a friend and we've followed him for quite a while. However, we have a Sunday tradition of ordering pizza and Rocco is closed on Sundays. My husband, having lived in NY for 6 years loves a good thin crust pizza. Anyway, we order from All-star and think it's pretty good. I think you should give them another shot. I think that because it sat for 20-30 minutes it may have affected the quality. We live in Brighton, which literally has no good pizza places, and so we order from All-Star quite a bit and are blessed that they will make the drive. Love your blog, keep it up!

  2. Fair enough, I'll give them another try sometime and make an assessment as soon as I get the pizza out of the shop. I should always do that anyway.

  3. This is a true story:

    I worked at a Penfield golf course in vicinity of All Star Pizza for 11 years.

    We'd enjoyed their pizza on numerous occasions until one day in ~2003 we ordered a large cheese+pepperoni with a dozen wings. It arrived and we found a hair in one of the slices. OK. Fine. It's food. People have hair. It happens. Normally that's not enough to ruin it for me, so long as the food provider makes up for it somehow.

    We called them and explained what happened and they put up a fight about either refunding the cost or replacing the pizza. Finally they broke down and offered to make us another and deliver it. The replacement arrived and it looked good and we thanked them and tipped the driver generously, as obviously it wasn't her fault that we didn't have to pay for this one.

    Midway through my second slice I noticed something baked into the bottom of the crust. I looked again and was immediately shocked and disgusted to see that it was a bird's feather. I kid you not: there was a little feather baked into the crust of the pizza.

    We called them up to complain and they furiously denied it. We actually had to drive it down to them and show them in person. Then they had the gall to only refund us the cost of the pizza, not the wings. To this day I still tell people to stay away from this place. I'm sure it tastes delicious and maybe they've cleaned up their act, but I'll never forget that I came within one bite of having a dirty little bird feather in my mouth.

    I have a picture somewhere that I'll have to dig up, because I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it.

  4. I'm not going to comment on this particular incident, since I have no first-hand knowledge of it, but as bad as it is to find a foreign object in your food, poor customer service can make it ten times worse. I can understand business owners being fearful of customers trying to scam them, but in general, I think, just take care of the situation quickly and make the customer happy.

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  6. I think All Star pizzeria has the best pizza in Rochester! I will drive from Perinton to Penfield to pick up a pizza. It is definitely worth the drive.

  7. I orderd a pizza in 1955 from this place. I found a boot stuffed full of money baked into my pizza. I never called to complained because the boot fit and I could use the money. I have a picture somewhere that I'll have to dig up, because I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it