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Friday, April 27, 2012

Abba's Pizza, Revisited

Back in December 2010, I did a post about a slice I got at Abba's Pizza, a kosher pizzeria on Winton Road near Monroe Avenue. I gave it a B-minus for pizza that was pretty crisp but a bit bland.
I've meant for some time to go back for a pie, and I finally did so recently.
Abba's pizzas only come in one size, 16 inches, and I got a cheese pie. The proprietor, Eli Pardo, told me that he makes the crusts from scratch, but parbakes them on screens and stacks them up, prior to making the actual pizzas.
The crust on my pizza was very thin - not paper thin, but thin. It was still in the oven when I arrived, and though it appeared to be about done, I asked for it to be baked another minute.
The result was a pie that was well-done underneath, with cheese that was a little browned, especially toward the center of the pie. The underside was dotted with holes that I assume were to keep the crust from bubbling up as it was parbaking.
Though I am generally not favorably disposed toward screen-baked pies, or prebaked crusts, this crust was pretty good. It had a crunchy/crackly bottom surface and a bready interior. The slices cracked when folded, but stayed in one piece, which is a sign of a good crust. Thanks perhaps to that extra minute in the oven, they had some toasty overtones as well.
The sauce was moderately applied, and had a mild flavor. If you like an assertively flavored sauce, you might find this a bit bland. The cheese was pretty good, again very mild, but with a good, creamy texture.
Due to its location, clientele, and virtually one-man staff, Abba's hours are rather limited. But for local pizza lovers, it is well worth visiting. You might want to call or check their Facebook page before going, just to make sure they're open.
I am in the process of simplifying my ratings, to go with a simple, A, B, C, D, F system - no pluses or minuses. So pizzas are either outstanding, above average, average, below average, or inedible. This was very good pizza - not quite top-notch, but very enjoyable, so I give it a B.
Abba's Pizza, 1037 Winton Road S., 14618 (inside the Chabad Center - just walk in, you'll find it)
Mon. - Wed. 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Thu. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sun. noon - 5 p.m.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Southern Tier Tour 2012: Renna's, Olean

If you'll indulge me a bit longer, I'd like to continue my occasional foray into pizzerias in New York's Southern Tier, which more or less corresponds to the route of I-86, a/k/a NY Rt. 17. Our next stop takes us to Olean in Cattaraugus County, which is home to several good pizzerias, including Renna's.
Renna's is a little unusual in that it is an independent pizza shop located within the Olean Center Mall. As I've discovered before, that's not unheard of, and mall pizza does not necessarily mean mediocre, chain pizza.
And this was pretty good pizza. The crust was thin, though not paper thin - about right for NY style pizza, which is what Renna's claims to make. The underside was not quite charred, but it was crackly, and well browned, with some toasty notes.
Interestingly, I found that the bottom of the crust could be easily separated from the top, as you can see in the bottom photo. So what? Well, I imagine that meant that the bottom baked up quickly, from the heat of the oven floor, and maybe the steam created inside the crust tended to create some separation between the top and bottom.
But what was more important to me was that this showed that the sauce and cheese had adhered well to the crust. The top layer of the crust, in other words, was stuck to the sauce and cheese. That's good, as far as I'm concerned, since it means that this was not simply a crust with cheese and sauce lying on top of it, but a unitary whole - crust, sauce and cheese fused together. As long as the crust doesn't get gummy from the liquid in the sauce (which this wasn't), I consider that a good thing.
The sauce was judiciously applied - enough to make its presence known, but not so much as to drown the thin crust. It had a thick, tomato-pasty consistency, with much of the water from the tomatoes having evaporated, and a slighltly tangy flavor, with a definite overtone of dried herbs.
The cheese was all right, not quite as smooth or creamy as I like, but not bad, and again in balance with the other components.
Besides pizza, Renna's offers subs, pasta, and "panzerotto" (or, if my Italian is correct, "panzerotti"), which are a kind of filled pastry. You can see their menu here, as well as this rather bizarre, tongue-in-cheek "history" of pizza.
Having grown up in the area, I know that Renna's has been around since the 1980s, which is a testament to the quality of their pizza. Their hours are somewhat restricted by the mall hours, so I'm not sure if a lot of Oleanders (I think that's the term) are aware of what they've got, pizzawise, right there in the middle of town.
There is, though, an alternative, not far away. Renna's has a second location on West State St. in Olean, in a stand-alone building. Unfortunately, their hours are about the same as the one in the mall, but at least it's a little more easy to see and get to from the street.
So another good pizza in our Southern Tier. Not flawless - it could've been a little more charred underneath, for my taste, and the cheese was adequate but not outstanding - but very good.
No rating on this one, for now. I plan to start revamping my rating system, so the ratings are going on hiatus. But this was good pizza, for sure.
Renna’s Pizza; Olean Center Mall
400 N Union Street, Olean, NY 14760
716-372-8145 | Open 6 days
Monday- Saturday 10 AM – 9 PM

Renna’s West & Mio Gelato Cafe
2703 West State Street, Olean, NY 14760
716-372-6333 | Open 6 days
Monday- Saturday 10:30 AM – 9 PM

Friday, April 20, 2012

Our Free Pizza Winners Are ...

Upstate Brews and JustinM! I will need each of you to email me at with your complete postal mailing address so I can send you your $25 gift card, good for anything on the menu at Perri's in Greece.
Thanks to all who participated, and if you didn't win this time, don't despair - I'll have more cards coming up for Perri's in Canandaigua, and for other pizzerias after that.

New York Pizzeria, Trumansburg

With warmer weather, I've been indulging my passion for hiking a little more often, and since I prefer the hills of the Southern Tier to the flatlands of the Rochester area, this has given me an opportunity to check out some pizza places I wouldn't ordinarily get to.
After running across this website, I got particularly interested in checking out the pizza scene in Ithaca. On my last excursion, to this forest, I didn't make it to Ithaca, but I did stop in nearby Trumansburg, where I grabbed a couple of slices from New York Pizzeria.
To some extent, the very name of the place excited my taste buds, but I've also seen plenty of places that claim to make NY style pizza that fall far short. So I was hopeful yet wary. (I should add that Google doesn't always get it right - search for "new york pizzeria trumansburg" and you'll come up with a site for a franchise, which as far as I can tell has nothing to do with New York Pizzeria in Trumansburg, fortunately.)
My (cautious) optimism was more than justified. These were very good slices, and worthy of the "New York" name.
I was confronted with a nice selection of slices, both red and white, but opted for the most basic - two cheese slices. I also noticed that New York Pizzeria appeared to be just that - a pizzeria - no wings. no nuthin' but pizza. That kind of purism is admirable.
These slices were thin, and crisp, and upon folding, they cracked down the middle but didn't break. In other words, the bottom surface cracked, but the interior stayed whole. They nailed that part of a good NY slice.
The underside was pretty good looking, as well. There was a smattering of corn meal (which I haven't typically seen in New York City, but it's not a big deal to me) and some very nice charring. The bottom side was blackened enough to give the crust a nice flavor, but by no means was it burnt. And the thin cornicione along the edge was just a little browned, which is also good. Why? Because it means that the heat applied to the crust was mostly coming directly from the oven floor, or deck. That tells me that this was a genuinely hot oven, with a good, hot deck, so hot that the underside can blacken before the top side or the edge get overcooked.
And this pizza passed the conventional test for a good NY style slice:  I could hold a slice horizontally, folded, and the tip didn't flop down at all. The entire slice remained perfectly straight. In fact I think I could've done that without folding the slice completely, it was that crisp underneath. I should've taken a picture of that but I was too busy eating.
Oh yeah, the toppings. The sauce was tomatoey - not particularly sweet, salty, herbal, or otherwise seasoned, and added in good balance with the thin crust. The cheese was lightly applied, and took a back seat to the crust and to some extent, the sauce as well. It was OK, but it didn't quite have the silky creaminess of premium mozzarella cheese that I look for in a pizza, especially a pizza as basic and minimalist as a NY style slice.
That one minor shortcoming aside, this was excellent pizza, and to my Rochester area readers, I'd say you should try to stop here some time when you're next driving through the Finger Lakes. Beyond the pizza itself, Trumansburg is an interesting little place. On the surface, it's just another little blink-and-you'll-miss-it, back-road village, but it's got a funky, laid-back vibe that's more Sonoma than Upstate New York (not that there's anything wrong with Upstate New York - I'm just saying it's an interesting place to visit).
I'm still rethinking some of my ratings policies. I haven't been rating pizzas from beyond the Rochester area, and I may simplify my ratings, so I may revamp things at some point, but my gut tells me to give New York Pizzeria a rating, and that rating is an A-minus. This was near perfection, with the only quibble being that the cheese was only adequate, and not truly great. So with that minor demerit, I'll say that New York Pizzeria comes strongly recommended from me.
New York Pizzeria, 2 W. Main St., Trumansburg
Hours unknown, I'll try to pin that down.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Joe's Brooklyn: More Selections

I had a bunch of people to feed recently, and what better way to do that than with three different pizzas from Joe's Brooklyn Pizza in Henrietta?
There was something here to please everyone:  a cheese pie, a spinach artichoke white pizza, and a tomato, basil and garlic pie.
At this point, I don't think I have to say much about the crust. Joe's makes a terrific thin crust pizza, bready, charred and crackly underneath. I've yet to be disappointed on that score.
What's fun for me now is exploring the different combinations of toppings. First up, a basic cheese and sauce pie, which for all its simplicity is still the benchmark, the go-to pizza that reduces pizza to its essence.
This time around, Joe's swirled the sauce on top, over the cheese, as on their Grandma's pizza. This allows the cheese to adhere better to the crust, and it also results in more water evaporating from the sauce in the oven, which both avoids a soggy crust and concentrates the flavor of the sauce. This was a well balanced, flavorful pie that didn't last long among my guests. Try ordering it this way next time.
The spinach artichoke pie offered a pleasant contrast to the cheese pie, with the slightly bitter flavor of spinach combining with tangy artichoke hearts, and shallots (a shamefully underused vegetable that is something of a cross between onion and  garlic - does it get any better than that?), topped off with sharp Romano cheese, over an olive oil-brushed crust. This was a delight.
A tomato basil pie made for a fine way to round out this troika, combining as it did the more cheese-dominated aspects of a white pizza with the slight acidity of diced tomatoes and the earthiness of finely chopped basil. Some establishments might call this a Margherita, but a "true" Margherita calls for fresh mozzarella, and so Joe described this, more accurately, as a tomato-basil pie.
By whatever name, this was fine pizza. A layer of processed mozzarella formed a bed for the other toppings, and since it's hard to go wrong with tomatoes and basil (with a little garlic to boot), this was one tasty pie. Joe applied a balsamic reduction to half the pie (you'll notice that the left side of the pie is a bit darker than the right), and while balsamic vinegar is one of those things that I think you either like or you don't, it was surprisingly effective here as a complement to the other toppings, making for a complex yet not overdone flavor profile.
I love Rochester's indigenous style of pizza - a bit thick, with generous sauce and cheese - and I certainly don't want any one style to become ubiquitous. But I also like having a lot of choices, stylistically, and as far as I'm concerned, every community deserves the option of good, New York style pizza. Joe's serves up excellent pies that could easily hold their own in their namesake borough. If you haven't yet been there, go. If you've been there but have limited yourself to cheese or pepperoni pizza, it's time to try some of Joe's other varieties. Even if you don't have occasion to get three full pies, you can take advantage of Joe's wide selection of slices and do a mini-sampling of your own. I'm getting hungry just writing about it.
Oh, yeah - Joe's continues to rate an "A" from me.
Joe's Brooklyn Pizza, 1100 Jefferson Rd., Henrietta
424-JOES (5637)
Mon. & Tue. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Wed. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. noon - 8 p.m.

Friday, April 13, 2012

More Free Pizza!

A few weeks ago, two happy blog readers walked away with free $25 gift cards for Perri's Pizza in Gates. A week from today, two more readers will do the same, only this time the gift cards are for the Perri's Greece location. It's at the intersection of Stone Road and Dewey, about halfway between Lake Ave. and 390.
As before, these gift cards are good for anything on Perri's menu, which runs way beyond pizza, to include wings, subs, steak sandwiches, chicken dinners, and more.
What's the catch? There is none. All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this post, no later than Friday, April 20 at noon. I'll then pick two winners randomly, using, and mail each winner a gift card.
Maybe you know the routine by now, but just a few reminders:
(1) I will need a way to identify you as the winner, and to get the cards to you. So an anonymous comment is not going to cut it - either your comment, or your user profile, has to include an email address, or you can email me with your email (or postal) address at
(2) Leave as many comments as you like, but multiple comments will not increase your chances of winning.
(3) It's not required, but I'd like you to take a look at Perri's menu (check the links above) and tell me what you think you might like to order - a specialty pizza, perhaps? Or how about a fiestada?
Finally, remember that these cards are only valid at the Greece location. I'll be giving away two cards for the Canandaigua location at a future date.
Perri's Pizzeria, 524 Stone Road (at Dewey)
Sun. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. - midnight

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Lying on the outskirts of Rochester's East End, Richmond's is one of those bars that seems to have been, and will be, around forever.
In fact, though, it was closed for much of last year, but reopened in early 2012 under new ownership. As a former habitué of Richmond's myself, I was perusing some web page or other about the "new" Richmond's when I noticed that pizza had been added to the menu. So off I went.
I wasn't sure what to expect, in more ways than one. I had the impression that the current owner was going for something more upscale than Richmond's had been in the past, which was either comfortably worn or downright seedy, depending on your point of view.
Physically, the interior has been given a facelift, though the basic setup remains the same. There's a new tiled bar, and a few more TVs than I remember, but they seemed to have done a good job of preserving the essential neighborhood-tavern feel of the place.
The menu hadn't changed as much as I expected (or feared) either. Richmond's had always had a classic bar-and-grill menu, doing just a few things but, for the most part doing them well. And those basics - wings, burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches - remain the core of the menu, with just a few new additions.
Like pizza. Now I didn't see any pizza ovens, so I can't say I was expecting much from my Margherita pizza, and, well, frankly, my expectations were fulfilled. This clearly used a premade crust, which had a golden-brown surface that was slightly oily to the touch. The underside was marked by concentric circles (just visible on the left of the second photo), which I suppose were created during the manufacturing process. The crust was medium thick, and while not unpleasant, it was not very bready, and it lacked the aroma and lively quality of freshly baked pizza dough.
Aside from the inherent qualities of the crust itself, one of the problems with premade crusts is that the toppings tend to simply lie on top of it, whereas a pizza made with fresh dough typically displays a better integration of the crust and the toppings. Because the toppings are applied to the unbaked dough, the sauce and cheese tend to fuse a bit with the top surface of the crust, so the finished pizza emerges from the oven as an integrated whole, not just an assemblage of disparate components.
Not so here. The mozzarella easily peeled off from the crust, and you can see the result in the third photo.
Appropriately for a Margherita, there was no sauce on this pizza - just the aforementioned cheese, some thick sliced but flavorless "slicing" tomatoes, a dusting of Parmesan or Romano, and a light sprinkling of dried herbs.
On a happier note, my two companions were both quite pleased with their burgers, which did look very good - thick, meaty and juicy, as seen in the bottom photo. I would've happily traded with them, but neither was willing.
Though I am giving this pizza a D+, let me emphasize that I'm rating the pizza, not Richmond's. Again, I think they've done a good job of preserving its essential physical character while giving the interior some much needed TLC, and from this one brief experience, Richmond's still turns out a mean burger. If the wings are as good as they used to be, then all the more reason to go.
But I'd stick with the tried and true basics, foodwise. Richmond's has a lot going for it, but sometimes places try to do more than they're capable of doing well, and this was one example. Given the physical limitations of the space, which as far as I can see preclude a full kitchen, Richmond's culinary future probably lies rooted in its origins:  wings, burgers, and various fried edibles. I'd drop the pizza from the menu, or at the very least drop the price ($9.95), which, with a $2.50 pint of Diet Coke on ice, yielded a pretty hefty lunch bill for what I got. With a good atmosphere, and good bar food, Richmond's should continue to be Rochester's favorite "neighborhood bar without a neighborhood," but I don't think it'll ever be a pizza destination.
Richmond's, 21 Richmond St.
11 a.m. - 2 a.m. daily

And the Winner of the Char Crust Giveaway Is ...

Wendy, please send me an email at, with your postal address, and I'll pass that on to the Char Crust rep. Congratulations and I hope you enjoy your seasoning 4-pack, I know I have. Thanks to all for participating!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pizza King, Hornell

Pizza King on Urbanspoon
As regular readers of this blog may know, I've been spending some time in the Southern Tier lately, meaning roughly along the southern reaches of 390 and Rt. 17/86, from Steuben County in the east to Cattaraugus County in the west. Partly that's been for hiking in some of the abundant state forest land in that area, but I've also been visiting family.
So I hope you'll forgive me if I stray a bit outside the Rochester area for the time being. I know this is the Rochester NY Pizza Blog, but by its nature a blog is an online journal of one's experiences, and my experiences at the moment include a lot of time to our near south. And since a lot of Rochester-area residents do have occasion to drive to, or through, the Southern Tier from time to time, it may be helpful to learn about a few of the pizza places you'll find along the way.
All of which is a leadup to Pizza King in Hornell. As I reported last month, Pizza King was started in the mid '70s by Bill Giovanniello, who currently owns and operates Giovanni's in Hornell. Bill, a native of Italy, is something of a Johnny (or should I say Gianni) Appleseed for NY style pizza in Western New York; as that prior post explains, Bill and Pizza King led, in one way or another, to the opening of several other pizzerias in WNY, including several in the Rochester area.
Though Bill sold Pizza King some years ago to concentrate on his current establishment, Pizza King - now owned and operated by a former employee of Bill - remains in business. (A related establishment of the same name, which was started by Bill's brother, also exists in nearby Wellsville, as explained here.)
On a recent visit to Pizza King, I got a cheese slice, and a Buffalo chicken slice. I'm pretty sure Pizza King wasn't serving Buffalo chicken pizza when it opened back in the '70s, but it's popular now, and I like to check out the different permutations of that style when I can.
These slices were thin near the tip (which means that the center of the pie was relatively thin), and slightly thicker near the outer edge. The cornicione was fairly wide and thick, and the crust as a whole was nice and bready. The underside was crackly and medium brown, with some nearly charred spots.
The cheese slice was topped with a slightly sweet / slightly herbal sauce. The cheese - all mozzarella I think, although there could've been some Provolone mixed in there - was not abundant, and seemed to have migrated a bit toward the center of the pie, leaving a fairly wide cheeseless band around the outer edge.
The Buffalo chicken slice had the same good, crisp crust, topped with cheese, chunks of spicy breaded chicken, and a healthy dose of hot sauce. It wasn't mouth-blisteringly hot, but if you like your Buffalo chicken pizza on the spicy side, you'd like this one. The Hornell Pizza King offers a range of pizzas, including thicker pan pizzas, wings, subs and pasta. I'm not sure how up to date it is, but you can see their menu here. Perhaps in a nod to Atkins dieters, it includes the first crustless pizza that I've ever seen on a menu:  the Meat Feast Pizza On A Plate, which is described as "all your favorite Pizza King pizza toppings covered with cheese and served on a very hot plate." Now there's a subject for philosophical debate:  is a crustless pizza still pizza?
Fortunately for me, I don't think I'll ever have to decide the answer to that one. I love a good crust, and Pizza King makes a good crust. Considering its proximity to Giovanni's (which makes for an easy twofer in a single trip) and its historical significance, this is a spot to add to your pizza "bucket" list.
Pizza King, 194 Main St., Hornell
(607) 324-2215
Noon - 11 p.m. daily (unconfirmed - call ahead to make sure)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Product Giveaway: Char Crust Dry Rub Seasonings - ENTER NOW!

I was recently offered a four-pack of Char Crust® dry rub seasonings to try, as well as an extra one to give away to a reader. These are pre-mixed dry rubs that you can use on just about any meat, including beef, poultry, fish and seafood, game, you name it - with just about any cooking method - grilling, broiling, roasting, pan-frying, etc. We've been using them at home with excellent results, although I'm still trying to figure out which is my favorite:  the Roasted Garlic Peppercorn, Ginger Teriyaki, Amazin' Cajun, or All American BBQ.
(Four other flavors are available - Original Hickory Grilled, Smoky Spicy Southwest, Sun-Dried Tomato & Garlic, and Hickory Molasses.)
When I have a full day at home with nothing to do, I like to do some serious, from-scratch barbequeing, using hardwood chunks and low, slow heat. Which means I might do it once or twice a year. These mixes make for an easy way to add flavor and a nice crust to your meats, without a lot of fuss and in much less time. And even if you are doing "real" barbeque, these would make good dry rubs for your meat of choice.
One lucky reader will win a four-pack of Char Crust seasonings.  (And these are not tiny "sample" sizes - they're full size, 4 oz. packages, as shown.)
To enter, just leave a comment at the end of this blog post.
This giveaway will END ON THURSDAY, APRIL 12, so you must enter before noon on that day. I'll pick a winner at random and announce the winner that afternoon.
If you win, you will receive your 4-pack directly from Char Crust, but I will need your name and mailing address to pass along to their rep. So at the very least, you need to include some identifying information in your post, so I can make sure that the prize goes to the right person. An anonymous comment won't do, in other words.
With grilling season upon us, these will make a timely addition to your kitchen, and this 4-pack should carry you well into the summer. Now comment away!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Little Sicily's, Alfred

Continuing my Southern Tier tour, I stopped a couple of weeks ago at Little Sicily's in Alfred (actually it's in Alfred Station, which is just east of Alfred). You can generally count on finding decent pizza in a college town, and Alfred is no exception.
Another thing you tend to find in college towns, at least in upstate New York, is New York (City) style pizza. I've always assumed that's because upstate schools have a fair number of downstate students.
My cheese slices (rather asymmetrically cut, but adding up to a little under a quarter of a pie) were very thin, floppy, and foldable. The underside showed screen marks, which isn't always a good sign, but it was reasonably crisp and not oily. There was a tiny bit of surface crackling, especially near the outer edge. The bottom was mostly brown, though not uniformly, and there were a few nearly charred spots.
The crust was, for my taste, good if not great. It did have some internal breadiness, and that balance between crisp and bready is what I look for, especially in a thin-crust pizza.
And it was well balanced as a whole. The sauce and cheese were added in good proportion to the crust, neither skimpy nor overdone or overwhelming. A heavy dose of dried herbs was visible, though they didn't seem to add much, flavorwise. (Dried herbs tend to accomplish more when added during "wet" cooking - a pot of spaghetti sauce or chili, for example - than when simply sprinkled onto a dish.)
Little Sicily boasts an impressive list of 30 pizza toppings, and seven specialty pizzas, including my beloved Margherita (they even got the spelling right on the menu). Pizzas come in sizes from 14" (what they call small), all the way up to 24" in diameter. They also serve wraps, wings, salads, subs, and sides.
This pizza was not far off from NY style pizza, if not quite spot-on (though in fairness, they don't seem to claim to make NY style pizza - I'm just trying to describe it). It's pretty decent college-town pizza, and well worth a stop if you're down that way.
If I ever come anywhere close to covering the Southern Tier scene in any comprehensive way, I'll go back and give ratings to these places. But for now I'm trying to keep the letter grades limited to the Rochester area. I'll call this one very good and leave it at that.
Little Sicily's, 933 State Rt. 244
Alfred Station, NY 14804
Mon. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 1 a.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 3 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - midnight

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Taste of Wayne County Pizza

I had the privilege of serving as one of four judges last Saturday at the Second Annual Wayne County Pizza Contest sponsored by the Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross. The event, which was held at Captain Jack's in Sodus Point, was well attended and, in my estimation, well enjoyed by all concerned.
First off, congratulations to the winners. Eight Wayne County pizzerias participated, and first, second and third prizes went to the winners of the popular vote as well as to the winners of the judges' vote. The popular vote winners were, in order,Trucks Oven (Sodus Point), Nima's Pizzeria (Palmyra), and BB's Pizzeria (Newark).
BB's took first place among the judges, followed by Double J's Pizzeria (Sodus) and Stoney's Pizzeria (Lyons).
To help compare apples to apples, and to keep us from overwhelming our palates and stomachs, all the contestants submitted pepperoni sheet pizzas. Each judge sampled one small square from each of the eight contestants, which were identified to us only by number. We rated each based on their appearance, taste and aroma. (I suggested that next year they might consider replacing the smell/aroma part with texture or crust.)
I can honestly say I liked them all well enough - no clunkers here - but the other judges and I were unanimous in really liking the pizza from BB's, which had a nice firm crust and a hint of garlic. Next time I'm out that way I mean to swing through Newark for a slice or a pie.
And that's not the only pizza trip I need to take to Wayne County. For one thing, Captain Jack's itself serves pizza, as you can see on page six of their extensive menu. To their credit - but my dismay - they didn't participate in the contest, to avoid any conflict of interest. Right on the water, it's a good spot for a meal on a nice summer day, so I'll try to make it up there with my family in tow in the next few months.
Second, on my way there, I noticed another place, Airport Pizzeria, at 7740 Ridge Road, which was not among the contestants. I stopped in on my way back, and spoke with an employee, who told me their pizza is made from scratch on the premises. I was sorely tempted to order one, but I was stuffed with pizza at that point and wanted to get home, so I satisfied myself with grabbing a takeout menu, which I'll post on my Facebook page. From the outside, Airport looks more like a bar - which it is, as well - than a pizzeria, so maybe it escaped the notice of the event organizers. Here's hoping that they participate next year.
This was a fun event, and by all appearances, it raised some money for the local Red Cross, which certainly deserves it. I hope that other charitable organizations around here take note of events like this and give it a shot themselves. Nearly everybody likes pizza, so if the contest is well publicized, in a good location, with a lot of local pizzerias, this kind of thing can be a popular, fun event that will not only raise money but increase public awareness of your organization. This one was well done - and I'm not just saying it because they asked me to be a judge - and I look forward to next year's event, whether as a judge or as an attendee.