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Monday, March 23, 2009

Bay Goodman Pizza, Rochester

Years ago, Bay Goodman Pizza, at the corner of Bay and Goodman Streets, would certainly have been on anybody's short list of classic Rochester pizzerias. It combined a bar with a pizzeria, which turned out medium-thick pizzas with a thick, stringy layer of cheese, and it had been around for a long time. It may not have been the greatest pizza ever, but it was one of the definitive Rochester pizzerias.
At some point both the bar and the pizzeria closed, as the surrounding neighborhood went downhill, and the bar itself became a trouble spot. In name at least, though, Bay Goodman Pizza has reemerged as "The Original Bay Goodman Famous New York Style Pizza," incongruously located near the corner of North Winton and Blossom Rd. on the city's eastern edge. As before, it adjoins a bar, Mickey Flynn's.
I stopped by recently for a lunchtime slice. Would the pizza be the same as I remembered?
The choices were plain cheese or pepperoni. I chose the latter.
The slice, which seemed pretty fresh out of the oven and had not been reheated, was covered with a generous helping of "cup & char" pepperoni slices, which were nicely crunchy along the edges.
Beneath that was a fairly thick layer of congealed cheese, more chewy than stringy, which adhered fairly well to the underlying crust, from which it was separated by a thin layer of sauce.
I would characterize the crust as medium thick. Perhaps a bit on the thin side of medium, by Rochester standards, but hardly what I would call New York-style thin. Maybe at one time this is what people around here thought of as NY-style pizza, but not today.
It was, I have to say, a bit on the greasy side as well. Some of that was undoubtedly from the pepperoni, but the healthy dose of cheese certainly had something to do with it too. Still, it wasn't so greasy or crunchy as to have obviously cooked in its own grease, and the crust, though lacking the exterior crispness of a good NY-style pizza, nevertheless retained a noticeable interior breadiness reminiscent of Italian bread. It also had a subtle but pleasant herbal flavor, and was flecked with what I'm guessing was oregano. The crackled underside bore a thin coating of flour and several large grease spots.
So was it as good as I remembered? I'm not sure. At first I didn't think so, but upon reflection, it was close enough to the original that it left me wondering if I'm simply remembering the old Bay Goodman through nostalgically tinted glasses.
Bay Goodman would not be among my choices for a regular pizza stop. It's thicker and greasier than I like, and a bit too heavy-handed on the cheese for my taste. Given the medium-thick, chewy crust and the substantial amount of cheese, it also would have benefited from a bit more sauce, of a heartier consistency, to balance out the other components.
I will say, though, that Bay Goodman is well positioned next to a bar, as I could see a bready, greasy slice or two hitting the spot at the end of the night, or as a sponge to slow down the effects of your drinks.
Speaking of the bar, I should mention that there is no seating in the pizzeria, and the bar doesn't open until sometime in the afternoon, so lunchtime orders are strictly to go. I didn't see any indication that they deliver, but I didn't ask. Various subs, sides and wings are available as well.
The bottom line? The "new" Bay Goodman is still turning out some pretty decent pizza, in a style that, at one time at least, typified pizza in these parts: medium crust, plenty of cheese, nice and bready. But things have changed over the years, rendering its sign a little inaccurate, in more ways than one. Perhaps it should now read, "The Original Bay Goodman Blossom Winton Famous (Rochester) New York Style Pizza." It gets a C+ from me.
NOTE: since this was posted, Bay Goodman has moved a few blocks north, to the corner of Winton and Browncroft. There is a second location on Titus Ave. in Irondequoit.


  1. Glad you mentioned Tom & Nancy's, I will be doing an entry on them in the near future. Thanks for your comments.

  2. I grew up on Forester & Goodman and still miss Bay-Goodman Pizza. Against my better judgment, I may stop in next time I'm in town.

  3. Haven't tried it since it moved up the street, so I don't know if the pizza's changed at all since March. I'll give it another try sometime.

  4. Graduated from University of Rochester in 1977. I fondly remember many late night runs to "The Bay" for some delicious pie. In those days, Bay and Goodman's was the standard by which we judged all pizza. Bursting with flavor and overflowing with gooey cheese, I often felt that I needed to take a shower after eating at "The Bay."

  5. Pizza Guy.

    You should really check out the new location. Quality improved significantly as well as the size of the menu in general.

  6. OK, well I definitely will check it out.

  7. The pizza was about a C+/B- but the kid at the counter gave me a free slice because the guy in front of me took a long time, so I think this was an example of outstanding customer service and bumps the whole place up to a B.

    The crust was a bit too thick the surface a bit too greasy but the sauce was very good and applied in proper quantities - a pet peeve of mine is too much sauce on a pizza and they don't do that here.

  8. Joey B,
    Thanks for your comments. I always welcome hearing about others' experiences.

  9. Hello Pizza Guy,

    We share the same hobby of critiquing pizza. You have an awesome blog here.

    One more thing about Bay Goodman the pepperoni they use wasn't that good, they should get a better pepperoni. The cheese was nice.

  10. It used to be great to order, go have a beer, and eat the pie there! At one point, the son was running the place, and opened up an area behind the bar, where they had tables, maybe booths it seems, and served Italian entrees from a menu. Too bad it is gone now. Several Pizzerias seem to claim to be "Bay Goodman Pizza"...when I hear "Original" it makes me think of the many "Original Famous Ray's Pizza" in NYC.

    1. I agree that there will never again be another original Bay Goodman, but I wouldn't exactly compare it to Ray's. Most of the Ray's you see in NYC are run by different people, and have no connection with each other. The current BG pizzerias are all related, I assume under common ownership, but they're not just ripping off the Bay Goodman name the way that the Ray's do in NYC.