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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Road Trip: Cam's in Penn Yan, Faro's in Canandaigua

As I've mentioned before, hiking is one of my pastimes, and our recent warm weather has sparked the hiking bug in me. This past weekend I headed down to Connecticut Hill. After my hike, I'd planned to swing by Ithaca, where I intended to check out a couple of places I'd read good things about, Finger Lakes Flat Bread and Shortstop Deli, although after running across this site I may have to rethink my priorities, as some other pizzerias look good too.
As it turned out, I didn't stop at any of those places, for hiking or pizza. What looked like decent roads on the map turned out to be more of a challenge for my car than the Finger Lakes Trail would've been for my legs. After breathing a sigh of relief at getting out of the forest with my undercarriage intact, I headed home, frustrated, but with a vow to come back and try again, next time parking just outside and walking into the forest instead of trying to drive in and starting in the middle. (Mental note: next vehicle will have 4WD and a relatively high ground clearance.)
But all was not lost. I did manage to climb a couple of anonymous hills on the way home, after which I continued on my way, which took me through Penn Yan and Canandaigua. Both afforded me an opportunity to stop for pizza.
My first stop was a place in Penn Yan. I'm a sucker for any pizzeria with "New York" in its name, and I'm sure I've seen this spot before. In fact, I think I've stopped there before.
What I had forgotten, though, is that upon closer examination of the sign on the building, you'll see, in small letters, the name "Cam's." That's right. This is a Cam's Pizzeria.
Now that's not a bad thing, exactly. I like Cam's. They do a good job at turning out New York style pizza at multiple locations. But I was thinking that I'd unearthed a little independent gem of New York pizza in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Instead I'd found an outpost of a growing regional chain.
Well, as it turns out, this is, according to their website, one of the oldest Cam's Pizzerias, dating back to 1982, just two years after Cam's started. So that was some consolation. Kind of like finding a McDonald's that still has the giant arches along the sides of the building.
I got a cheese slice, which was pretty good - no surprise there, as I've never had a bad slice from Cam's. The thinness of this slice did surprise me, though; while Cam's basic pizza is always thin, this was the thinnest I've had yet. Almost paper thin, with virtually no interior. Basically, just a bottom crust, with sauce and cheese on top.
Which is not necessarily a bad thing, I guess - it depends on what you like. If you think the crust is just there to hold the sauce and cheese, you'd have loved this. I liked it, but I could've used a little more backbone and interior in the crust, and a bit darker underside. Still, it was tasty enough, and, my appetite whetted by some climbing in the hills to the south, I downed it quickly.
I hadn't planned on any more pizza that day, but on coming up East Lake Road south of Canandaigua, I ran across Faro's, whose sign is emblazoned with the magic words, "New York Pizzeria."
After making sure that the name "Cam's" wasn't hidden in there somewhere, I went in for a slice. Although it was the middle of the afternoon, I assumed that they'd have slices ready - any place that advertises New York pizza should have slices, all the time. And they did.
At first, though, I was taken aback at seeing a couple of sliced pies on racks, in an unlit warmer, especially after the guy put a slice on a plate for me without rewarming it. I was afraid they were going to be stale. But on getting the slice out to my car, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was quite fresh, and still hot enough that the cheese was semi-liquid.
That cheese elevated this pizza above the usual slice. I'm a crust guy, and this crust was good, with some char spots and a nice, crisp surface underneath. But the cheese was excellent - not just stringy, but smooth and creamy. Unfortunately it had migrated toward the center of the pie, i.e. the point of the slice, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. I have to confess that it distracted my attention from the sauce, so I can't tell you much about that except that it was moderately applied, in proportion to the thin crust.
Both of these slices were good. I'm not trying to pick a winner here, but Faro's was a real find. Outside of people on the east side of Canandaigua Lake, it's not exactly convenient to the Canandaigua area in general, but based on this one visit, I'd say it's well worth a drive.
While a trip to Ithaca remains on my to-do list, this excursion served as a reminder that good pizza is to be found all around us. You've just got to keep your eyes open, and be ready and willing to pull over when something catches your eye.
Grades? I'm not sure where to draw the geographic line - I generally don't assign grades to places outside the Rochester area - but I'll grade these. The Cam's gets a B. Cam's has in the past gotten a B+ from me, but this was a shade too thin, and a shade, literally, too light underneath. But it was still good.
Faro's gets a B+. This was close to an A-minus, at least, but with only half the slice covered with cheese, I have to deduct a little. Still, very good pizza, and next time I'm down that way I'll stop in again.
Cam's New York Pizza, 25 Main St., Penn Yan
Mon. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sat. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Faro's Pizzeria, 3530 East Lake Road, Canandaigua
(585) 396-2840
Tue. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

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