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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Union St. Bakery, Public Market

Sicilian pizza is not something you see a whole lot of around here, particularly sold by the slice. It's not impossible to find, certainly, but at most pizzerias the closest you're apt to find is "sheet pizza," which is usually just a thicker, pan-risen, and not-as-good version of the pizzeria's regular pizza. Sheet pizza is usually only available in half or full sheets, which is a lot of pizza. So I don't eat it too often.
But if Sicilian pizza were available by the slice at more places, I'd probably get it more often. One place where you can find it is at the Union Street Bakery in Rochester's Public Market. In fact, this is the only kind of pizza they sell, along with their breads, pastries and other baked goods.
I got two slices the other day, which measured about one and a quarter inches thick. The smooth bottom had a uniform golden color, giving it an appearance similar to that of cornbread. There was a faint trace of oil detectable on the surface, though this wasn't at all what I would call greasy.
The interior of the crusts was very interesting. Obviously the dough had risen, but the air holes were quite small, and the crust had a very puffy feel. In thinking about how to describe the texture, the word "cottony" came to mind, and that's about as apt a description as I can come up with. I don't think I've ever had a pizza with a texture quite like it.
The best thing about these was the aroma and flavor of the toppings. This pizza had a wonderful, enticing aroma, a heady mix of garlic, cooked tomatoes, herbs and cheese. The thick tomatoey sauce was topped with a generous helping of mixed dried herbs, chopped garlic, and a smattering of shredded processed cheese and granules of, I think, Romano.
The relatively sparse cheese on this pizza is one reason I would consider this more of a Sicilian slice than simply another sheet pizza. A heavy layer of cheese, I think, is more of an American than an Italian thing. The cheese here was a nice mix of softer, "melting" cheese and sharp grated cheese.
Union Street Bakery is located near the main entrance to the Public Market, in the same building as Fare Game Food Co. and Monterrey Mexican Tacos. It's a convenient stop if you're alone or with others, since there are several vendors to choose from, and pretty ample seating, except at peak times on Saturday (but seating turnover is quick, so you won't have to wait too long for a seat).
This pizza was kind of a mixed bag. It had excellent flavor and aroma, but I really didn't care much for the crust. It was just a very strange texture, not dense exactly, but chewy, and again I come back to cottony as the most apt adjective I can think of. The flavor and crust just about balance each other out in terms of good/bad, and at just $1 a slice, I'll bump this up to one notch above average, for a C+.
Union Street Bakery, 4 Public Market, Union St. 14609, 232-8110
Not sure of the bakery hours, but the market is open Tue. and Thu. 6 a.m. - 1 p.m., and Sat. 5 a.m. - 3 p.m.

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