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Monday, August 2, 2010

Napa, S. Clinton

Last January, I did a post on Napa, a wood-fired pizzeria in Fairport. I gave it a B-, which isn't bad, but I did find some fault with my Margherita, particularly its lack of balance. I thought that the heavy layer of sauce overwhelmed the very thin, crackly crust. But I did give them credit for making effective use of their wood-fired oven, and not turning out a pizza with a wimpy, pale crust.
Napa recently opened a second location in the city on South Clinton Avenue, right next to Boulder Coffee. I had lunch there with a couple of friends, which allowed me to check out several varieties of pizza.
For myself, I chose a "Genovese," which, as far as I can tell, doesn't seem to be on the online menu, which is either outdated or only applies to the Fairport location. The Genovese comes topped with potato, rosemary and garlic. I've seen potato pizzas on menus around here, but they're often of the "stuffed potato skin" variety. I've been curious for a while to try a more authentic, Italian-style potato pizza, and this sounded like it might come close, even though from what I've read, potato pizza is more commonly found in Rome than in Genoa.
My companions selected a couple of red (tomato-sauce-based) pizzas, a "Corleone," topped with hot capicola, roasted red peppers, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, and a "Rustica," with Italian sausage, caramelized onions, and green peppers.
As was the pizza at the Fairport location, this pizza was very thin, so much so that the crust had virtually no interior. Though the crust was charred, the charring here was more spotty than at Fairport, and the crust was much less brittle. It was certainly crisp, with a nice "bite" to it, but it was not crackly, and had just a bit of chew.
My Genovese was subtly flavored, with paper-thin slices of potato on top, accented by the rosemary and garlic. In its simplicity, I'm guessing that it wasn't too far off from something you might find in Italy, where the pizza is not typically overloaded with toppings, as in this country.
I was a little less impressed with the Corleone. The sauce on this one seemed lighter and less cooked than at Fairport, but it, too, was laid on rather thickly. Though it tasted fine, and I enjoyed the other toppings, I thought the sauce simply overwhelmed everything else on this pizza, crust included.
The Rustica may have been my favorite of the three. It was, perhaps, the closest to an "American" pizza (could that be a reason I liked it?), with its combination of sausage, peppers and onions (can you ever go wrong with sausage, peppers and onions?), plus the nicely melted, creamy cheese and the sauce, which seemed to be in better balance with the other components on this pizza.
The South Clinton Napa is in a converted house, and although it maybe hasn't quite fully settled in to its new digs, it's a pleasing space, with a modest dining room, small bar area (no alcohol yet), and a covered deck. Service was good, and I got the impression that the staff are trying hard to deliver a good product and please their customers.
I was pretty pleased with these pizzas. Starting with the crust, as I always do, these were charred but not burnt, crisp but not brittle. Though I tend to like my crust just a tad thicker, with more of a bready interior, that's strictly my subjective preference, and I can't fault Napa too much on that one. Plus, I understand that we're talking wood-fired pizza here, which is often going to be very thin.
When the crust is that thin, though, it's easy to overdo the toppings, and I think that was the case with the Corelone. Other than that, I had no real complaints, and I'm looking forward to my next visit, and some further samplings from the menu. I'll give Napa an A-.
Napa Wood Fired Pizzeria, 537 S. Clinton Ave. 232-8558
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sat. 4 p.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.


  1. A minus is way too high. I would give this place no more than a C based on my margherita last night. There was way too much sauce. The crust, which I'm assuming is whole wheat, is bland, dry and woody tasting -- at the very least, they need to add a little salt to the dough. The whole thing seemed like a big pile of tomato sauce on bad bread, with a little bit of cheese and basil. $22 was too much for a really uninspired pizza.

  2. Thanks for the informative comments. Your different reaction could represent inconsistency at Napa, or a difference in taste between you and me, or both.
    I do agree that they can overdo the sauce, as I noted in this post, though I didn't penalize them much for that.
    Your suggestion that the dough is made from whole wheat flour has me curious. I will try to find out what they use. But I don't think I would call the pizza I had dry or "woody."
    As for the price, well, yes, $22 is high, for this area. I'm not questioning the legitimacy of the price, I mean maybe given their costs it's reasonable, but it is up there. I generally don't factor that into my grades, though.
    But again, I appreciate your comments. I've always tried to encourage informative input from readers, so others can get a range of opinions, beyond my own, and your comments were much better than the "it sucks!" variety.