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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Acme, Monroe Ave.

Acme Pizza & Bar on Urbanspoon
Given the affinity between beer and pizza, it’s a little odd that there aren’t more bar/pizzerias around. There are certainly restaurants that both serve pizza and have full bars, and there are a handful of bars that are next door to pizzerias, but genuine bars that make pizza are a surprisingly rare breed.
One of the few exceptions that I can think of around here is Acme Bar & Pizza on Monroe Avenue. If memory serves correctly, Acme started out, I’m guessing, ten years ago or so, as sort of a sister establishment to Richmond’s downtown. There have been some ownership changes since then, but from the start Acme has been serving thin, New York-style pizza to its customers.
I stopped by recently to pick up a large pie to go. It had a very thin crust, and the slices were kind of floppy, with an underside that was rather pale, just lightly browned, that didn’t have much crispness, though it wasn’t greasy either. It tasted OK, but was not particularly bready. The outer lip was thin and somewhat tough. There was a bit of oven soot on the underside, and one black, burnt unidentifiable blob stuck to the inside of the box.
The cheese, which had a tangy flavor and had congealed by the time I got the pizza home, was fairly heavy for a pizza this thin, adding to the floppiness of the individual slices. The sauce was thinly applied, and didn’t have a very noticeable presence. The pepperoni was of the cup and char variety, was moderately applied, and had a decent flavor.
Acme doesn’t really do specialty pizzas, other than white pizza, and the toppings menu is pretty basic. They also make calzones, as well as a full range of standard bar food, from wings (pretty good ones, in my experience) to burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, hot subs, salads, fried munchies, chili and homemade soup. There’s a modest but interesting lineup of beers on tap, and over 75 beers by the bottle. Another plus is that food is served right up until the 2 a.m. closing time, seven nights a week.
I’ve always thought that Acme turned out some pretty good pizza, even if it’s not in quite the same league with some of the other local purveyors of New York style pizza. The crust just doesn’t seem to have quite the flavor and texture that makes for truly great pizza, but all in all, it’s certainly not bad, and I can easily put away several slices of this stuff without complaint.
Which reminds me: as I was enjoying this pie, it occurred to me that what this really was, was good bar pizza. If you’re a bar owner, you don’t want to be serving up some thick pan pizza that’s going to get the customer full after a slice or two. This is the kind of stuff you can eat several slices of, for some time, without getting too stuffed to keep on drinking. I’m not endorsing excessive drinking, but truth be told, that’s probably what a lot of your customers prefer, too. On its own, I consider Acme pizza to be better than average, but not outstanding, so I’ll give it a B-.
Acme Bar & Pizza, 495 Monroe Ave. 271-2263
Mon. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun. noon - 2 a.m.


  1. Acme is way better than Big Deal down the street, drunk or not.
    Big Deal pizza slices are so heavy... it feels like lifting bricks.
    PS... you eat a lot of pizza! Do you have a high metabolism, or do you starve yourself until your scheduled dose of pizza presents itself? :)

  2. I think I do have that kind of metabolism, but it's not as if I'm putting away a large pizza every night. A slice or two at lunch, and pizza for dinner maybe once a week. Maybe I can get some kind of gig out of this like that Jared guy from Subway - "I eat nothing but pizza every day and I'm not fat!" On second thought, it would probably be doing ads for Pizza Hut, so forget it. Actually, if all I could eat was Pizza Hut I can guarantee you I wouldn't gain weight, because I wouldn't eat any more of that stuff than I had to to stay alive.
    Speaking of Big Deal, I gave it a D shortly after it opened, but I recently went back to see if things had improved. I'll have a review up in the near future.

  3. I discovered Acme's pizza years ago when out with my friends who were regulars to the place. After seeing people ordering and scoffing down burning hot slices I got hungry enough one night to try it myself. I couldn't believe how good the pizza was. Extremely floppy, more gooey cheese than you can imagine, and great pepperoni. I rarely complain about too much cheese, but with the crust as thin as it is, less cheese would make the pizza easier to eat. I still can't believe that a sports bar can make such a great pizza. Definitely in my top 5.

  4. Someone at Acme must have listened to Eric's comments. I have noticed they use less cheese than they did in the past. Maybe it's due to the economy. Anyways, I love it more with less cheese. The crust was soooooo perfectly thin that it couldn't handle the weight of the cheese before. When searching for a scene of the Ramones eating this floppy style of pizza I came across these funny pizza related videos:!

  5. Time for a return visit, I guess. And thanks for the video links. I liked the second one especially.

  6. I couldn't help but notice your rating of B- still looms over one of the best pizzas in Rochester/Western NY! I have followed your suggestions and even went to some places twice just to make sure, and still think ACME should be up there with The Pizza Stop, Guida's and a few others. Yes, this place is a bar, but they hired someone who knew their $@%* when it came to making a killer pizza. I haven't tried their other stuff, but hear it's good as well. If not for the bar part and street parking, I think ACME would get noticed much more than they already do. I split a large pepperoni and pitcher of root beer with my wife and kids on a Saturday afternoon and we left extremely satisfied. The crust is very flavorful, not too chewy, has a nice weight to it, and has a nice, crunchy butt end. Tastes like good bread, not bland and ritz crackery like some others. Yes, there are places in town that have enticing pizzas of every combo under glass for you to drool over, but underneath all those toppings sits a bland, tasteless crust. The crust should be edible on its own and have at least a hint of yeast or tartness in my opinion. This pizza's gooey cheese seems to have a high butter fat content since you may have to sop up some of the oil with your napkin. The oil keeps things lubricated as you chew- like bread dipped in olive oil. I would choose plain cheese at ACME over some totally loaded pizzas at other shops. ACME does just fine as a bar, pizza just happens to be a bonus. ACME pizza is well known to the bar hoppers, but overlooked by guys in the burbs. Hopefully this blog can turn non/casual drinkers on to this place. I go there any time I am near downtown. I think ACME should change their name to ACME Pizza Pie Emporium- and bar. Hey, if this is the only way I can get to a bar to shoot some darts or play pool, GREAT!

    Also, A top 10 list would be a great list to reference in a rush from a mobile device.

  7. Thanks for the suggestions. You can always click on the "A" label to bring up my top-rated places, but a Top 10 is not a bad idea.
    As for Acme, I've had excellent, and not so great, pizza from there. So the problem for me has been consistency. But it's been a long time and it is probably due for a revisit.

  8. Acme's an A- or at least a B+ in my book. A great place for beer and a very satisfying slice.

  9. I don't want to damn Acme with faint praise, but it is one of the better bar pizzas around town. Few bars serve pizza around here, and among those that do, most use premade crusts that are not even as good as what you'd find at a convenience store.