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Friday, May 27, 2011

Ferrara's, Spencerport Road: Margherita Pizza

Pizza Guy Note: Sadly, Ferrara's is closed.
There have been several new pizzeria openings around Rochester in the past month or so, which is always exciting news for any pizza lover. One that I was especially eager to try was Ferrara's, which opened on Spencerport Road in the CVS plaza just off Long Pond Road.
The reason for my anticipation is that years ago, there was a Ferrara's pizza on Titus Avenue, across from the House of Guitars. That was the first place I ever got a Margherita pizza, which I'd never even heard of before.
Ferrara's closed quite some time ago. Since then, they spot has been a Pudgie's Pizza, and now is a hair salon or something along those lines.
All these years, and many Margheritas later, I wouldn't say that Ferrara's Margherita was very authentic. The classic Italian Margherita is made with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil, on a thin crust that's usually been brushed with olive oil. Ideally, it's baked in a wood-fired oven, at least if you really want authenticity, in the sense of coming close to what you'd be apt to find in Italy. (Or so I've read and seen on TV; I've never been to Italy, I'm sorry to say.)
But I didn't know any of that the first time I tried a Margherita from Ferrara's. Maybe ignorance is bliss, but I loved it from the start. It was topped with tomato slices, black and green olives, garlic, and white onions, and it immediately became one of my favorite pizzas. At the time, I lived in the Browncroft neighborhood, some distance from Ferrara's, but I'd regularly make the drive to pick up a Margherita.
So when, some months ago, I saw a listing in the D&C for a Ferrara's Pizza opening on Spencerport Road, I couldn't believe that after all these years it could be the same Ferrara family, but I was hopeful. And what do you know, it is. And they still have the same Margherita on the menu.
At some point I plan to go back for a more in-depth discussion with the owner, but on this, my first visit to the new place, I just spoke to the cashier, who told me that this was indeed the same Ferrara's. And as far as my memory serves, the Margherita was as I remembered it, or at least damn close to it.
The medium-thick crust was well browned and firm underneath, though not quite crisp or crackly. There was a trace of cornmeal visible, but no screen marks.
The interior of the crust was quite nice, rather bready, with large air holes, particularly along the edge. Very enjoyable.
But it was the overall flavor that again won me over. Yes, the olives are canned, and no, the tomato slices aren't as good as what you'd get out of your garden in July, but there's something about this particular combination of toppings that I find irresistable. The pungent saltiness of the olives, the softly sweet onions, with the flavor and aroma of garlic permeating it all, renders this a sheer delight.
Maybe some of this is just nostalgia. Maybe if I were trying this for the first time, I wouldn't be so lavish in my praise. And I know I should try to be objective. But how can you be coldly dispassionate when a long-lost love has returned, after you thought you'd never meet again? So with that caveat to the reader, I have no choice but to give this an A.
Ferrara's Pizza, 485 Spencerport Rd., Gates 14606. 247-6777
Tue. - Thu. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 4 p.m. - 11 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. Closed Mondays.

And the Winner Is ...

Steph Chows! She got in under the wire, leaving the sixteenth and final comment, but after I numbered the comments 1-16, I went to, which picked #16, so Steph is the winner of the 2 Ton Tony's gift certificate, good for one large 2-topping pizza. Steph, I will be emailing you to get a mailing address, and should be sending out your certificate next week.
Thanks to all who participated, and if you did not win, don't despair! I hope to make this at least a monthly event, with free pizza from various local pizzerias. And please don't get the idea from Steph's winning that the last person to leave a comment has an advantage - "offers true random numbers" generated using "atmospheric noise," whatever that means. But from what I've read, it is truly random.

Last Day to Enter to Win a Free Large Pizza from 2 Ton Tony's!

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but you can disprove that by entering this week's drawing for a free 2-topping large pizza, courtesy of 2 Ton Tony's in Irondequoit. All you have to do is leave a comment following this post.
Any comment will do, but for fun, let us know your 1 or 2 favorite pizza toppings. 2 Ton Tony's has over two dozen to pick from, so there's sure to be something there to please your palate.
I will pick a winner at random, using, whom I will announce next Friday morning (May 27). If you win, I will need to be able to contact you so that you can get your gift certificate, so you must either (1) include your email address in your post or (2) be a registered Blogger user with an email link in your user profie or (3) send me an email, in addition to your comment, at You may leave as many comments as you like, but multiple entries will not increase your chances of winning.
OK, comment away!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bocce's Pizza, Buffalo

No, I'm not going to start covering the Buffalo pizza scene, but I've had occasion to travel there recently, so of course I took advantage of that to check out some Buffalo pizzerias.
One that I wanted to get to, and did, was Bocce's. I lived in Buffalo for a few years a while back and I remember that Bocce's was a place I'd go to from time to time. It's also one of Buffalo's oldest pizzerias, dating back to 1946.
I got two pepperoni slices, which were pretty fresh. The underside was soft but not greasy. It was mostly brown, almost blackened in spots, though I wouldn't call it charred. It was medium thick.
The sauce and cheese were moderately applied, in pretty good balance with the crust. What was most distinctive was the sauce, which was slightly sweet. The cup and char pepperoni was nice and crisp and gave the slices an overall spicy flavor. The sauce was applied right up to the outer edge, which was rather crunchy, and the mozzarella was well melted, with a chewy texture.
Bocce's (whose "official" name is Bocce Club) has two locations. I went to the original on Bailey Ave. They have a full menu of pizza, subs, wings, and sides. If you really like their pizza, or if you've moved away and miss it, they can ship you a half-baked Bocce pizza; go to their website to order.
Since I don't plan to do any significant coverage of Buffalo pizzerias, I'm not going to rate this one. If I did, it would probably fall somewhere roughly in the "B" range, give or take a plus or minus. I wasn't thrilled with the crust, but this was a fairly distinctive pizza, and deservedly could be considered something of a Buffalo institution. It may not get the recognition level of the Anchor Bar, but it's been serving up its signature dish for longer, and is worth a stop if you're headed out that way.
Bocce Club Pizza, 4174 North Bailey Ave., Amherst. 716-833-1344
Also at 1614 Hopkins Road East, Amherst. 716-689-2345
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fri. - Sat: 11 a.m. - midnight, Sun: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

For Home Cooks: Scaccia Ragusana

In my Jozeppi's post I mentioned pizza-like concoctions (calzones, strombolis, etc.). Over the weekend I tried my hand at this recipe. I'd never heard of Scaccia Ragusana until I ran across a reference to it recently. It's kind of a cross between a stromboli and lasagna, made with pasta dough (no yeast).
It didn't look quite as nice as the one in the photo, but it was pretty tasty and I'd make it again. If you do, though, I have some advice: construct it on the parchment paper, so you don't have to pick it up and move it before it's baked, which was difficult to do. Also, the 12 oz. of Romano cheese is apparently by volume, not weight - 12 oz. by weight would've been way too much.
If you've never made fresh pasta, don't sweat it - it was an easy dough to make and work with, easier in some ways than bread or pizza dough. I used a mix of Bob's Red Mill durum semolina flour and bread flour, and it handled easily.
Other than the use of some bread flour, I pretty much followed the recipe, but it would also be easy to do some variations - different cheeses, maybe some meat or veggies, just slice everything thin so you don't tear the dough.

Jozeppi's, Fairport, Revisited - CLOSED

Note: This establishment is now closed.
In February 2010, I reported on Jozeppi's, which had recently opened in Fairport. I gave it a B for decent thin-crust pizza.
I recently stopped by again, to see how things are going these days. I wasn't up for a whole pie, so I just got a couple of cheese slices.
They were good, and, I think, better than last time, which is saying something, since last time wasn't bad. There were some faint screen marks on the underside, which all too often means a soft crust, but this one was quite crisp underneath. The slices were foldable, and there was a little crackling along the outer edge. I wouldn't say that they were charred, like a classic New York slice, but they were well browned, with just the faintest suggestion of oil on the crust. The crust had a nice outer crunch, particularly along the thin edge, with a chewy interior.
The slices were topped with a thick, full-flavored sauce, with hints of herbs and garlic in addition to the tomato base. Like the sauce, the mozzarella cheese was applied in good proportion to the thin crust, with a few bare spots of sauce poking through here and there.
While there, I was also able to try one of Jozeppi's signature items, the "pizza bomb." Think of a cinnamon bun, but with tomato sauce taking the place of the cinnamon, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what this is. Essentially, it's rolled-up pizza dough, with a filling of sauce, cheese, and, in this case, pepperoni.
The underside of the bomb was crisp and cheesy (I don't know about you, but I like those bits of dark brown, nearly-burnt cheese that you sometimes find around the edge of a pizza, and that's what the bottom was like). Compared to a slice of pizza, the pizza bomb seemed to have a higher ratio of dough to sauce and cheese, but it was quite tasty, with a bit of peppery kick, and it would certainly be easier and less messy to eat on the go than a slice of pizza.
You can read a bit about Jozeppi's background here, and I won't bother repeating everything in that story. On my visit, Clemente was busy handling the duties at the pizza oven, and wife Carol was on hand as well. I never had the chance to sample the wares at their former restaurant, Clemente's, but if the pizza at Jozeppi's is any indication, it must have been pretty good, and I'm sure local residents consider themselves fortunate that its namesake is still turning out pizza and other Italian fare at Jozeppi's.
A further visit to Jozeppi's is probably in order at some point, so that I can try another one of their specialties, the tunnel sandwich. This is a hollowed-out sub roll stuffed with cheese, sauce, meats, or other fillings of your choice, making it something of a cross between a hot sub and pizza bread.
Now of all the pizza-like concoctions out there - calzones, strombolis, and now pizza bombs and tunnel sandwiches - I don't think I've ever had, or ever will have, anything that quite satisfies like plain old pizza. But they are fun to try, and they can be very good. Ultimately, though, it's all about the pizza for me, and Jozeppi's is well worth a visit on that score. I wouldn't quite call this New York style, because the underside of the crust is more browned than charred, and of all the pizza I've eaten in NYC, only once have I seen screen marks underneath. But on its own merits, this is very tasty thin-crust pizza, well balanced, with a nice contrast of crunch and chew, and I'm bumping it up a notch from last time, to a B+.
Jozeppi's Pizzeria, 84 High St., Fairport, 377-8400
Tue. - Sat. 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. Closed Mon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Distillery, Mt. Hope Ave.

Distillery on Urbanspoon
Continuing my occasional series of reviews of bar pizzas, today takes us to the Distillery on Mt. Hope Ave.  The Distillery is more than a bar, of course - it has a very long menu, and plenty of people go there to eat, not to drink - but it's certainly not a pizzeria, either, and I'd say this pizza falls into the general category of bar pizza.
Except for those places that have dedicated pizza ovens or otherwise specialize in pizza, most bars around here don't turn out particularly good pizza. There are bars that make good pizza, of course, but most don't, in my experience. So I can't say I was expecting much, but I tried to keep an open mind.
I ordered a tomato & basil pizza, which sounded roughly like a Margherita, topped with tomato slices, red onions, tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh basil. All of the Distillery's pizzas are available on a "traditional" (white) or whole wheat 10-inch crust, and I opted for the white.
The crust was pretty thin, not very bready, but a little crunchy, with a golden-brown underside. It wasn't what I would call well integrated, by which I mean that it seemed more like a cooked flatbread with toppings added, than a pizza where the crust and toppings are all baked together. I don't know if this crust was prebaked at all, but that's how it seemed to me.
The flavor was fine, nothing out of the ordinary but not bad. The cheese and sauce, both of which had been pretty generously applied, consisted of melted mozzarella, Parmesan, and a basic tomato sauce.
The Distillery's other pizza offerings include plain cheese, pepperoni, a white veggie pizza, Buffalo chicken, and a Mediterranean pizza, with grilled chicken, pine nuts, basil pesto, diced tomatoes, green onions, and Kalamata olives. And as I mentioned, the rest of the menu is lengthy, ranging from bar food (including wings that are among Rochester's best, at least at the original Mt. Hope location) to more substantial entrees like grilled sesame ahi tuna and sirloin steak. And there is a full bar, with a decent, if not overly impressive, draft beer selection.
As far as the atmosphere goes, the Distillery is a sports bar, make no mistake, with TV screens everywhere you look, but unless there's a big game on, most of the crowd is there to eat and drink, not to watch sports.
This was not bad pizza, but it's not a pizza I'm likely to order again, except perhaps as a shared appetizer. The flavor was pretty good, and a slice or two could be a good warmup or accompaniment to wings or other bar food. But as an entree, it didn't quite match up to some of The Distillery's other menu items, such as the aforementioned wings, or just a basic burger with fries. The crust just didn't wow me, and the components didn't come together as well as they could have. So while I wouldn't turn it down if you offered me a slice, I'll peg it at just below average, and give it a C-minus.
The Distillery, 1142 Mt. Hope Ave., Rochester 271-4105
Other locations at 300 Paddy Creek Circle, Greece, 3010 Winton Rd. South, Henrietta, and 10 Square Dr., Victor.
Mon. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun. noon - 2 a.m.

Recipes for Hunger Relief

Here's the text of an email I just got. I checked out Family-to-Family and it looks pretty legit.

Homes across the nation are starting to uncover the grill, light the citronella candles and make bi-weekly trips to the farmers market - all in preparation for the season's most anticipated moments: the magic that occurs when family and friends gather around the dinner table to share conversation, laughter and joy. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to experience the type of conviviality born at the table - let alone the food that covers it - and Campo Viejo wants this to change.

Campo Viejo, the fastest-growing winery in the Rioja region of Northern Spain, is summoning food enthusiasts across the U.S. with Campo Viejo Convivium, a culinary mission that will use the passion found in favorite dishes to bring meals to the tables of those who need it most.

Starting now and continuing through June 26, 2011, the winery is challenging kitchen connoisseurs to submit their favorite crowd-pleasing recipes by emailing them to For every recipe received, Campo Viejo will donate $100 to Family-to-Family, a nonprofit hunger relief organization that encourages families with more to help other families in need. Limit to three (3) recipe submissions per person.

In addition to pairing well with Campo Viejo’s wines, the recipes should represent dishes that are enjoyed together by family and friends and that unite people when sharing a meal.

So during your next run for sugar snap peas, mint and okra, don't forget to pick up this season's most sought after ingredient: hope.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: Cooking for Geeks

Apparently, if you write a food-related blog, you will now and then be offered a free food-related book to review. It’s happened to me twice now, and since both books had some interest for me, I’ve accepted. (Well, one offer was for two books, one of which vegan-themed, which I declined. Nothing against veganism, I just don't think I'd be well qualified to review it.)
The latest book to come my way is Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter, a wide-ranging survey of science and techie culinary topics. Think of a cross between Food TV's "Good Eats" with Alton Brown and "Food Detectives" with Ted Allen, and you'll have a rough idea of what the book is like.
Potter is described on the back cover as having “done the cubicle thing, the startup thing, and the entrepreneurial thing, and through it all maintained his sanity by cooking for friends. He’s studied computer science and visual art at Brown University.” In other words, Potter is more geek than chef.
That's fine, and the book seems well researched, but I found myself a little less willing to accept Potter's pronouncements and culinary advice at face value than, say, that of Alton Brown, Shirley Corriher or Harold McGee.
At several intervals in the book, though, Potter pauses for a discussion with a bona fide food expert (including McGee, author of On Food and Cooking). Of particular interest to me is Atlanta pizzeria owner Jeff Varasano, whose website has one of the most detailed pizza recipes you'll find on the internet. Potter's interview with Varasano doesn't contain a lot in the way of detailed technical information, but offers some interesting insights into the art of pizza making, experimentation and the learning process.
Potter also discusses some other aspects of pizza, which he describes as "stereotypical geek food ...:  ubiquitous, cheap, and cheesy." For home cooks, he recommends par-baking the crust before adding the toppings and putting it back in the oven. His rationale is that this will tend to avoid soggy crusts, and make it easier to get the toppings and the crust to the desired degree of doneness at the same time.
That makes some sense, I suppose, and I might give it a try sometime, but this was one of those spots where I found myself questioning Potter's credentials. Not that I'm an expert, or even particularly geeky where cooking's concerned, but by his own admission Potter is "lazy" when it comes to making pizza dough, and he doesn't "worry about exact hydration levels, proper kneading method, ideal rest times, and controlling temperature to generate the ideal flavor." Sooo ... why exactly should I be taking his advice?
That's not to say that I didn't like the book, though. It's a fun read, and should appeal to anybody who's interested in the scientific side of food and cooking. And I did enjoy Potter's brief, but interesting, discussion of "high-heat methods for pizza," which included the results of some experiments that he performed using the self-cleaning mechanism on his home oven.
Would I recommend this book, then? Yes, but with the caveat that the reader should know what it is, and what it is not. Cooking for Geeks covers a lot of ground, but it's more broad than deep. It should appeal to the type of reader who likes to pick up a book, read a few pages at random, and put it down again. (In that sense, I'd say this would make a good "bathroom reader," but this should probably stay in the kitchen.) Perhaps reflecting Potter's having grown up the Internet Age, Cooking for Geeks has something of a blog-like feel to it, as he bounces around from discussions of kitchen gear to egg whites to organic farming to transglutaminase (or "meat glue" - p. 324), and so on.
If you're looking for a comprehensive tome on food science, though, I'd suggest McGee instead. For solid practical advice on cooking rooted in science, pick up a copy of Corriher's Cookwise. And for a good, basic introduction to the general subject area of food science, Alton's your man. But if you've got one or more of those and would like to add to your library, or if you'd like something less encyclopedic but nonetheless informative, as well as fun to thumb through, Cooking for Geeks is a fine choice.
Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter. 432 pages. O'Reilly Media (2010).

Channel 13: Pizza Stop Staying, Expanding Downtown

13 WHAM just ran this story about The Pizza Stop and another worthwhile lunch spot, O'Bagelo's.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hooligans, Webster

T C Hooligans on Urbanspoon
Slowly but surely, pizza seems to be catching on as an addition to bar food menus around town. Some places do it on the cheap, with preformed crusts they simply add toppings to and throw in the oven. But other bars have gone the extra mile, with hand-stretched dough (which may be made off premises) and serious pizza ovens.
Count Hooligans in Webster among the latter group. I ran across a reference to its wood-fired oven some time ago, and decided to check it out.
I noticed, by the way, that the Hooligans in Greece - which I haven't reviewed yet - also serves pizza, but does not have a wood-fired oven. Also, the Greece Hooligans website doesn't even mention the place in Webster. So I'm not sure how much of a connection there is between the two.
I visited the Webster Hooligans on a Monday at lunch time. The place was pretty dead, and I was the only patron when I arrived, although a handful of guys showed up before I left.
Be that as it may, I ordered a Margherita pizza. I thought about getting a basic pepperoni pizza, but Margheritas have become my benchmark for wood-fired pizzas.
Had I noticed it sooner, I would've taken a seat near Hooligans' oven. I had thought this was a Doughpro oven, based on Hooligans' listing on the Doughpro website, but I'm informed that it's not (see the comments below).
At any rate, I sat some distance from the oven, and I was too lazy to move closer, but I did take a look at it on my way out. Somewhat to my surprise, I did not see any wood in the oven. (I say "somewhat" because I didn't smell any wood smoke either, so I wasn't totally surprised.) There was nothing but a gas flame emanating from inside the oven.
Well, I don't get too worked up over the equipment, it's the final product that counts, so I wasn't particularly miffed about that. At least the dough here is hand-stretched - no frozen shells - although my guess is that it's actually made off premises, as few restaurants or bars have the means to prepare large batches of pizza dough. Again, I really should have sat near the oven, so I could've peppered the pizzaiolo with these questions, but I didn't think of them until later, I'm afraid.
But back to the pizza - it arrived hot, with a thin crust that was fairly crisp and well browned underneath, with a few small charred spots. The coating of corn meal on the bottom was a bit of a surprise, as I just haven't seen that much on wood-fired pizzas, but it was not objectionable (and of course, this was not truly a wood-fired pizza). The crust had a decent texture, not exceptionally crisp but with a bit of bite, and some internal breadinesess, particularly in the thin but puffy lip, or cornicione, along the edge.
The pie had an unmistakable aroma of garlic, and visually was dominated by a thin layer of creamy, almost liquid fresh mozzarella. A few shreds of fresh basil added some flavor, and the slices of pale bland tomatoes - which I've unfortunately come to expect around here - provided some color but not much else.
This may not have been the best Margherita I've ever eaten, but it was reasonably good. The pie as a whole wasn't on a par with top-notch wood-fired pizzas, but the gas-powered oven did a pretty good job, and for a pizza at a sports bar, this was better than you might expect. I wouldn't mind trying Hooligans' pizza again sometime, and I wonder whether on a busy weekend night they might actually throw some wood in the oven, which could give the pizza a slightly smoky edge and perhaps a bit more crispy, charred crust. Right now, I wouldn't say that the pizza is a clear choice over more traditional bar food like wings, but this was good enough to pique my curiosity about some of Hooligans' other pizza varieties. I'll give it a B.
TC Hooligan's, 809 Rdge Rd., Webster 671-7180
11 a.m. - 2 a.m. daily

Friday, May 6, 2011

2 Ton Tony's Ring of Fire

Although I appreciate the subtle flavors of a minimalist pizza, I also like a good food challenge, especially where heat's concerned. And while 2 Ton Tony's doesn't explicitly present their "Ring of Fire" as a challenge, when I read the description - crushed red pepper sauce, topped with banana, jalapeno and cherry peppers - I took that as a gauntlet that had been thrown before my feet.
So while my gastroenterologist might not approve, I recently got a medium Ring of Fire. And I've lived to tell about it.
In fact, if you're a chilihead, this is probably not the hottest thing you've ever eaten. Adam Richman could likely down this without breaking a sweat.
But that's not to say that it isn't hot. It is. I would even call it extreme pizza. And I did break a sweat eating it. But the crust and the cheese help moderate some of the heat, and 2 Ton Tony's wisely avoids going completely overboard; you won't find any Scotch bonnet peppers or ridiculously hot sauce on this pizza. There's no point in making the thing inedible, after all.
As I said, though, this is one hot pizza. About halfway through my first slice, I could feel the perspiration breaking out on my brow, and I'm pretty sure my cheeks had developed a rosy glow.
Generally, I say that pizza is all about the crust, but this was one pizza where the toppings dominated, which was no surprise. But the crust here was what I would call thin to medium, firm, with a crunchy edge. The underside bore screen marks, but it was reasonably crisp, with a chewy interior.
With all those peppers, there was a fair amount of liquid on this pizza. I recommend not leaving in the box for too long. to avoid the steam softening the crust too much. Plus you'll want to get the aromatic effect of the peppers.
Getting back to which - this wasn't a doubled-over-in pain kind of pizza, but it was an eye-watering, sinus-clearing, nose-running pizza. And that's about what I'd hoped for. I like heat, but I'm not completely into the man-vs.-food thing. If you're not into spicy food, this would be too hot for you, but if you like to crank up the heat, without committing culinary suicide, this pizza is right on the mark. It's hot enough to make you sweat, without feeling as if you're having a nuclear meltdown in your gut.
To get down to specifics, the peppers on this pizza were all pickled, not fresh. But as I've said before, hot peppers are one item that may be better canned than fresh.
Despite the menu's reference to a "crushed red pepper sauce," the sauce looked like ordinary tomato sauce to me. It may have contained red pepper, but honestly after the first bite it was hard to pick out any flavors other than that of the peppers. The creamy, melted mozzarella provided a welcome buffer that helped mitigate the heat just a bit.
So how much did I actually like this pizza? Well, in some ways, this was far from my ideal pizza. To me, great pizza is all about subtlety, with a delicate, perfectly balanced blend of flavors and textures. This was all about bringing on the heat.
But I knew that when I ordered it, and in fact I found it strangely addicting; while the first few bites shocked my palate, after a slice or two I found myself wanting to go on for more, maybe to keep the endorphin rush going. It also struck me that in a way, eating this pizza was more reminiscent of eating hot Buffalo wings than a lot of other Buffalo chicken pizzas I've had. But I'm talking hot wings here, the kind that are so hot that you can't really taste the chicken.
How to rate this, then? Given the nature of this pizza, I don't think I can fairly rate it as against other pizzas I've reviewed on here. I mean, it was perfectly good pizza and all, but the fact is, if you're getting a Ring of Fire pizza, you're not looking for balance - which to me is the hallmark of great pizza - you're looking for serious heat. The cheese, crust and sauce were fine, I guess, but to be honest I didn't notice them much. So on that basis, on a scale of 0 to 5 peppers, with 0 being no heat at all and 5 being instant-ulcer, gut-wrenching heat, this rates about a 4.
2 Ton Tony's, 545 Titus Ave. (at Hudson), Irondequoit. 266-8669 Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.. Sun. noon - 9 p.m.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pizza Stop, State St.: White Garlic pizza, Sausage & Pepper pizza

After too long a hiatus, I stopped into the Pizza Stop downtown the other day. I would typically get a couple of cheese slices, maybe pepperoni, but in the interests of research I decided to try something a little different. I got one white garlic slice, and one slice with Italian sausage and banana peppers.
The white garlic slice, which came from a freshly-baked pie (in other words, the slice was not reheated), had Pizza Stop's signature crisp underside, with a few small char spots dotted about. The surface was a tad oily, but that's normal for white pizza, and it wasn't overly so.
The flavor was, appropriately, more subtle than that of a typical red-sauce pizza, but no less tasty, with a blend of warm cheese, garlic, herbs and oil. I didn't spot any chunks of garlic, but the garlic flavor was unmistakable, though not harsh or overpowering. White pizza will never be my go-to pizza, but as white pizzas go, this was quite good.
I am more of a red-sauce guy, and I have a fondness for hot peppers, so I really liked the sausage and peppers slice. This featured chunks of Italian sausage mixed with slices of banana peppers. The peppers were the kind that come in a jar, but banana peppers are one of the few things that somehow seem to taste better canned than fresh. Something about that vinegar that gives them an added dimesion of flavor, I guess. The underside of this slice was also crisp, but more well-browned and less charred than the white pizza.
There's nothing particularly subtle about the flavors of Italian sausage and banana peppers, but this was really good. The toppings made this an almost "juicy" slice of pizza that definitely called for folding down the middle. Between the savory sausage, the vinegary kick and crunch of the peppers, the tomato-sauce and cheese base, and the crisp crust, it was like eating a hot, crunchy sub. A definite winner.
I've said on more than one occasion that for my taste, Pizza Stop makes the best pizza in town, particularly if you like thin-crust, New York style pizza. And it's been consistently good in all the years I've been going there. So while it hardly seems necessary to say yet again that it rates a solid "A" from me, it can't hurt to add these two varieties to the database. I'll continue to work my way through Pizza Stop's menu, and if I run across a clunker, I'll certainly report on that too. But that doesn't seem to likely to happen.
Pizza Stop, 123 State St., Rochester 14614 546-7252
Mon. - Thu. 10:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Fri. 10:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.