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Friday, September 17, 2010

Stone Oven Pizza, RIT

College campuses aren't typically places I would go looking for pizza, but after hearing that RIT had a place called "Stone Oven Pizza," I thought it might be worth checking out.
Clearly the days of the dining hall as the place to eat on-campus are long gone. Today it's all about choices, and RIT offers students a dizzying array of options, including the aforementioned Stone Oven.
While it's nice to have choices and all, that doesn't mean much if the food's no good. So how's the pizza?
I got a cheese slice and a Margherita slice, which was one of specialty slices of the day. They were baked in what looked, at first glance, like a wood-fired oven, but it appeared to me that the flame inside was simply a gas flame.
The crust on both slices was thin, with an underside that was, sadly, crisscrossed with screen marks. I say "sadly" because it seems to me that baking the pizza on a screen, while it might be convenient, is not apt to give you as crisp a crust as baking it right on the floor of that nice-looking stone oven. And sure enough, the underside on these was firm, but not what I would call crisp, and the crust was a bit chewy. There were a few spots underneath that were nearly charred, but mostly they were just a mottled brown.
The cheese slice was covered with a fairly thick blanket of mozzarella. It was a little oily on top. The moderately-applied sauce had a thick consistency and a middle-of-the-road flavor, neither too sweet, salty or herbal. The puffy edge of the crust was OK, with some bready flavor, but not particularly noteworthy.
The Margherita was, well, not what I would call a Margherita. Not to get hung up on labels, but if you'd asked me what kind of pizza it was, I wouldn't have guessed that it was a Margherita.
Some chunky tomatoes were interspersed with what appeared to be fresh mozzarella, though the cheese seemed a bit dried out and not as creamy as it could've been.
That was fine, but where was the basil? I'm not sure that I've ever had a Margherita without some fresh basil on it. This simply had what flakes of what I took to be dried, crushed basil.
Semantics aside, this was pretty tasty. The underside, though still not crisp, was a bit more blackened than the cheese slice, and had some pleasant toasty flavor notes. I picked up a pronounced aroma of garlic, while on the palate, there was a tangy saltiness from the cheese, which played nicely off the sweetness of the tomatoes. To paraphrase Shakespeare, a Margherita by any other name would taste just as good, and whether this deserved that moniker or not, it was, for me, definitely the better of the two slices.
I didn't get a menu - I'm not sure that they had any - but you can get an idea of the offerings at SOP and its neighbors at the Commons here. Here's a campus map, if have no idea where the Commons is (I didn't).
Some time ago, RIT's Dining Services vowed to come up with "Rochester's Best Pizza." I'm not sure if this is supposed to be it, or if they're still in the laboratory working on it. Either way, I'd say they've still got some work to do, but this wasn't bad pizza. I wouldn't go out of my way to get it, but if I were on campus and hungry, there's a good chance I'd head to Stone Oven. I'll give it a B-.
Stone Oven Pizza & Pasta Cucina, at the Commons, RIT campus.
Mon. - Fri. 11 a.m. - midnight, Sat. & Sun. noon - midnight.

1 comment:

  1. I work in the same building as the Commons and probably get Stone Oven pizza once a week or so. They've been slowly getting better and better - when they first opened the pizza was very inconsistent, but it's a reliably tasty lunch option now.