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Friday, July 2, 2010

Mark's, Winton Place

Mark's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
Although I don't go out of my way to review chain pizzerias, I figure that local or regional chains deserve at least one review here. Up till now, my one post on Mark's Pizzeria has been a review of the Lyell Avenue location in Rochester. Some readers commented that the Lyell location wasn't the best Mark's to go to, and I've seen more than one thing said about the Mark's in Winton Place, so I've been meaning to check it out sometime. And now that the Mark's on Lyell has closed (at one point a sign in the window said that Paradiso would be opening there), I figured it was a good time to do that.
This was considerably different from the pizza I got at Lyell. In fact, if I hadn't known otherwise, I never would've guessed that they both came from the same chain.
For starters, this was much thicker than the Lyell Mark's pizza. The crust was nearly an inch thick. It had reasonably good flavor and texture - not outstandingly bready, but not gummy, and it was cooked through, without the raw-dough flavor of some crusts.
The concentric rings of round bumps underneath indicated that they had been in a dimpled pan. I'm not quite sure what the theoretical advantage of such a pan would be, but the underside here was medium brown, dry to the touch, and firm but not crisp.The outer edge was pretty good, bready and a little crisp. The lip had been crimped, sort of like a pie crust, so that it had a sort of knotty appearance.
The sauce was moderately applied and very middle-of-the-road in flavor. Tomatoey, but not especially sweet, salty, herbal, or acidic.
The thin but uniform layer of mozzarella was pretty well browned, and though not burnt, it seemed a bit dried out (which I don't think was from spending too much time on the warming rack - they were quite busy at lunch time, and slices were moving quickly).
Mark's menu is available on their website, and the Winton menu here. On my visit to the Winton Place Mark's, they had several different slices available, nothing too unusual or remarkable as far as I could tell. And compared to some places today, Mark's pizza menu is relatively basic, with eight specialty pizzas and about 15 toppings to pick from.
The Winton Place location is pretty much a takeout and delivery place only, although there are a few picnic tables nearby. One thing I'd read about the Winton Place Mark's was that service was good, and it was. Did they "treat me like family," as their five-second ad says? Well, for me that depends on which of my relatives you're talking about, but the counter guy was friendly and seemed to make an effort to connect with each customer and to provide good service. Noticing that the first slice he'd given me was on the small side, he purposely picked out a bigger one to go with it, to balance things out.
Speaking of balance, that brings us back to this pizza. It was pretty good, but for me, the crust was just a little too thick. It's not that I dislike thick crusts per se, but they tend to knock a pizza out of balance - in other words, they dominate the other components. You could try to compensate for that by adding a lot of cheese, a lot of sauce, and other toppings, but to me, pizza is one of those things where less is sometimes more. Better to make the crust a little thinner, so you get a more subtle interplay between the crust, cheese and sauce.
I'm sure if you order a whole pie from Mark's you can get it thin if you ask, but you can't do that when you walk in for a slice, and from what I saw a lot of people go there to get slices. So I'm reviewing what I had, which is all I can do.
At the same time, I know that's just my subjective preference, and I can't say this was a poorly made pizza. Certainly it was filling, and if you like thick crusts, this was not bad. If I wanted a thick crust, I'd probably opt for a nice, crunchy Sicilian slice over this, but this was, well, all right. I'll give it a C+.
Mark's Pizzeria, 3450 Winton Place, 292-5140
Sun. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - midnight


  1. Mark's was my favorite pizza for about a year. We ordered from the Monroe location all the time. The last time we got a pizza from them, it tasted completely different. It was boring, blah, not worth $20. It was clear that everything was different. The crust, the sauce, the cheese. We haven't ordered from them since. Gross. I don't know if they went back to normal, but we found a better pizza so who cares. Their loss.

  2. We too used to like Mark's, we used to get it from the one in Lima, but it's not nearly as good, and the one on Winton frankly SUCKS, the best one by far is in Mendon, we're a mile out of their delivery area so we'll go there to pick it up if we're craving Mark's, and besides having great pizza they are VERY friendly!

  3. It's not a dimpled pan, it's a flat pizza dish without a lip. It's used to run the pizza through their conveyor ovens while maintaining an equal distribution of heat throughout the pizza.

  4. Thanks for the information. I think I know the kind of pan you're talking about.

  5. I worked at a marks pizza and believe me they go out of their way to make the customer happy no matter what. even if it means sending you 4 pies if they mess up the 2 pies you ordered. most places would would just make you wait and give you what you wanted but they consider the items they used for your order yours. so you always get what you payed for and if they made something different on your time you get that too. that being said most the people are working there for the money and and not because they love making food . and having people who love what they do and love food is key in making a good place to get something to eat. no mater what the dish. i love making food and one thing i dont like about there is they have one set ways of doing things no matter if you can make it better. its hard to make waves in a pool that has over 25 locals in it. i have worked at other chains and even have a pizza named after me on the menu at one so im not just makin this up when i say that marks loves to make the customer feel like family but the lack love for food from the employees makes for some what bland pizza. everything is always the same. same slices, same two scoops of sauce, and 9 ounces of cheese ( on a large). so if you want the same shit over and over go there its awesome. if you are looking to be wowed... well so am I. I would love some info on a new pizza place near rit.

  6. You make some good points but in general, chains strive to have the product be consistent from one location to another, all the time, so there's not going to be a lot of room for creativity. You do have some choices at RIT, and I will try to go back through some of my old posts and add tags for "RIT". For now, look under "Henrietta."

  7. FYI: Hugo's Italian Bistro in Win-Jef plaza has pizza now. (corner of winton rd and jefferson rd)

  8. Thanks, I did see that somewhere recently. I intend to get over there in the next 2 or 3 weeks.