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Friday, March 11, 2011

Rookies, Buffalo Road

Rookie's Neighborhood Sports on Urbanspoon
I've noticed recently that more bars are advertising pizza on their menus. And with March Madness and St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, what better time to check some of them out?
Now before I get to today's establishment, let me just say that bar pizza is a tricky thing; you never know what you're going to get, particularly since not every bar that offers pizza is set up to make pizza from scratch. While a handful of places are equipped to prepare from-scratch, pizzeria-style pizza, others, I think, rely on premade crusts, which can be easily topped with canned sauce and shredded cheese, and popped into the oven for a few minutes.
One of the recent entrants onto the bar-pizza scene is Rookies, a sports bar with locations in Gates and Pittsford. I stopped for lunch recently at the original location in Gates.
Rookies has eight pizzas on the menu.  I went with the pepperoni pizza, figuring that it's one of the most basic, and probably the most popular.
My personal-size pizza wasn't bad looking, with a medium-thick crust, topped with wide, evenly spaced slices of pepperoni, melted cheese and a deep red sauce.
It was a bit disappointing, therefore, when my first bite revealed a dry, rather lifeless crust. It was firm, certainly - the slice stood out as straight as a ruler when I held it by the edge - and it was not greasy, which is also a plus, but it had no breadlike qualities, and precious little moisture. Not that I want my pizza crust to be wet, but this one seemed to have had all the moisture sucked out of it.
The toppings were a little better, at least. The sauce was amply applied, which was fortunate, given the desiccated crust. It had a sweetish flavor that was reminiscent of canned pasta sauce, but it wasn't bad at all.
The cheese was thoroughly melted, not browned, and was very stringy, which you may or may not like, but it seemed like high-quality mozzarella, with a bit of fat oozing out of it, and it also helped add some textural interest. The pepperoni was unremarkable but acceptable. The edge, unsurprisingly, was quite crunchy.
Besides plain cheese and pepperoni, Rookies also offers Buffalo chicken, veggie, and Philly steak pizzas, as well as their "signature" Greek pizza with Greek marinade, charbroiled chicken breast, Kalamata olives, red onions, tomatoes, spinach and feta cheese. The rest of the menu runs toward bar-food staples such as wings, burgers, and quesadillas, all grouped under sports-themed headings (for no reason that I can think of, pizzas are deemed "Second Quarter."
There's ample seating at Rookies, with a long bar facing one wall, booths along the other three walls, and tall tables and barstools in between. The walls are black, which might come off as rather gloomy were it not for the solid ring of TV screens surrounding the entire dining area.
This is definitely a male-oriented place, which is to be expected at a sports bar, I guess. On my visit, the wait and bar staff seemed to be entirely female, and the clientele almost entirely male, though a couple of women did come in for lunch just before I left. I'm guessing that on game days the aroma of chicken wings mixes with that of testosterone, and that you'd better get here early if you want a place to sit.
To borrow some sports terminology, Rookies didn't exactly strike out with this pizza, but it was far from a home run. It has some things going for it - decent sauce, nicely melted cheese, pretty good balance - but the dry crust was reminiscent of a frozen pizza, and not an especially good one at that. An infield hit, perhaps, but that's about it. I'll give this one a C-, and next time I'd opt for some wings instead.
Rookies Sports Bar & Grill, 2351 Buffalo Road, Gates 429-4665, and 3400 Monroe Ave., Pittsford 385-7665
11 a.m. - 2 a.m. daily.

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