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Friday, August 27, 2010

Giuseppe's Clam Pizza

Giuseppe's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
I've reported before about the pizza from Giuseppe's, a West side restaurant that can trace its roots back over 80 years. I liked my pepperoni pizza, finding it "uncomplicated, straightforward, and full flavored," and gave it a B+.
Sometimes I visit a pizzeria, try their pizza, and think, OK, I get it, I know what their pizza's like now, and I don't necessarily have any strong desire to go back. But Giuseppe's is one of the places I wanted to revisit, partly because they have some interesting items on the pizza menu, one of which is a clam pizza.
Clam pizza's not something you see much of around here, and is probably most closely associated with Pepe's in New Haven, Connecticut.
I've never been to Pepe's, I'm sorry to say, and in fact before last week I'd never tried any clam pizza, but from what I've read, Pepe's clam pizza consists of freshly shucked clams, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and a dash of grated cheese on a thin, crisp crust. Giuseppe's version, while also a white pizza, is considerably different; the crust is brushed with olive oil, then topped with garlic, pecorino Romano, mozzarella, fresh bell peppers, onions, chopped clams and bacon.
I'll start, as always, with the crust. The underside was browned and marked by an oily sheen. Thankfully, the oil, which I think was probably mostly from the toppings, hadn't penetrated the interior of the crust, which was still fairly crisp on the outside. It had a pleasant, bready flavor, which was no surprise, since Giuseppe's also turns out some of the best Italian bread in the area, for my money.
Because of the abundance of toppings, this wasn't an especially "clammy" pizza. The bits of clam, though numerous, were not so much the stars at center stage, as they were role players.
The ensemble cast started with the mozzarella, of which there was a substantial amount. It was well melted and very stringy, serving as a medium to hold the other toppings together.
Surprisingly, if one of those toppings stood out, it was the green bell peppers. They were fresh, and not overly cooked, so their mild but distinctive flavor and crunchy texture formed a counterpoint to that of the slightly salty, chewy clams.
The other toppings tended to blend together into the background. I didn't notice much garlic flavor, and wondered if Giuseppe's used garlic powder rather than chopped garlic. The bacon was sparingly applied, which was fortunate, because although I like bacon, too much of it could easily have overwhelmed the clams and other toppings, turning this into a bacon pizza with clams rather than the other way around.
This being my first-ever clam pizza, I have no idea what a clam pizza "ought" to taste like, or how this measures up against Pepe's or anybody else's. So I won't even try to rate it against some standard, other than the standard of pizza in general and my own subjective experience. And based on that standard, I'd say it was pretty good. It's hard to compare the overall flavor to anything else I've tried, pizza or otherwise, but after being somewhat apprehensive about how some of those toppings were going to work together, I was pleasantly surprised. This pizza was flavorful, yet the flavors were not overly strong, and they did coalesce nicely together. I also enjoyed the contrasting textures of the bready crust, rubbery mozzarella, crunchy peppers and bacon, and the chewy, chunky clams.
I'm not going to say this was a perfect pizza - I could've done with a little less oil underneath, and the bell peppers came close to stealing the show from the clams - but I liked it, and so I think this rates exactly where I pegged my previous pepperoni pie from Giuseppe's, a B+.
Giuseppe’s, 40 Spencerport Rd. (Rt. 31) 426-3397
Takeout hours:  Mon. - Thu. 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. &. Sat. 9 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Dine-in hours: Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.

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