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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Country Store, Webster

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Search Google Maps for pizza in Webster and one of the places that pops up is The Country Store on Lake Road. Now generally I don't expect much from convenience store pizza, and if they're just heating up frozen or "preassembled" pizzas that they then keep under a heat lamp, I don't even consider it a pizzeria to begin with.
But from what I'd read about The Country Store, they seemed to make their own pizza, and I'd struck gold before out that way at the Union Hill Country Grill, so I was cautiously optimistic about this one.
Apparently, though, the particular vein of gold I'd struck at Union Hill doesn't extend this far north. The Country Store's pizza isn't bad, mind you, but it's not great, either.
The Country Store serves up a thick, heavy slice of pizza that will definitely fill you up if that's what you're looking for. The lightly browned underside was heavily coated with cornmeal, giving it that distinctive cornmeal crunch.
This was a pretty saucy slice, which was appropriate, since the thick dough needs some moisture to go with it as you chew. The sauce was a bit salty and well cooked. It was topped with a medium to thick layer of cheese and slices of wide and thin pepperoni, and the whole thing was generously dusted with dried herbs.
The outer edge of the slice was formed into a very thick lip that had a soft, spongy interior. It had the large air holes characteristic of good bread, but seemed to me not to have a whole lot of bready flavor or aroma. I attribute that in part to relatively low oven temperature and/or short baking time, because the pale color of the crust indicated that the natural sugars in the dough never had a chance to caramelize in the oven. That's the tricky thing with thick pizza, though: bake it hot and long enough to brown the crust and the toppings are liable to get overcooked.
As the name suggests, The Country Store offers a wide range of products besides pizza. The food menu includes wings, hot and cold subs, soup and chili, a full complement of grilled and fried items, and a Friday fish fry. And of course you can pick up your groceries and Lotto tickets and fill your tank while you're there. If you live in the area, they'll also deliver, not just pizza but groceries too.
I like places like The Country Store. They help create a sense of place that you can't get from chain stores. But if I lived nearby and had a hankering for pizza, this wouldn't be my first choice. It's not just that it was thick - I've had some excellent thick-crust pizza, including the aforementioned Union Hill Country Grill's - but a thick crust, especially, needs a good bready texture and flavor, and this just didn't have it. Still, the overall flavors were OK, and it wasn't overly greasy or defective in any way, so I'll put it at just a notch above average, with a C+.
The Country Store, 1319 Lake Road, Webster. 265-3512
Sun. - Thu. 6:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 7 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.

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