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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bocaccini's, Perinton

Bocaccinis Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon
As I've mentioned in the past, restaurant pizzas generally take me longer to getting around to, but I do get around to them eventually. My most recent was from Bocaccini's, near the corner of Rts. 31 and 250 in Perinton. (The "official" address says Fairport, but it's not in the village of Fairport, it's in the town of Perinton.)
For some reason I had been under the impression that this was a chain restaurant, but it's not. Must be something about the name and the suburban location, but it just sounds like a chain place.
At any rate - the food here includes some traditional items like veal, chicken, or eggplant parm, more inventive dishes such as herb-crusted pork tenderloin with butternut squash ravioli in a maple-Dijon glaze, as well as basic, simpler fare, including panini, wraps, and, yes, pizza.
Unlike some comparable places, Bocaccini's doesn't have a wood-fired oven, but advertises its pizza as "thin crust brick oven pizza." The pizza oven was visible from our table, thanks to Bocaccini's open kitchen.
From the nine pizzas listed, I had to go with the Margherita (spelled "Margarita" on the menu). In addition to the standard tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil, I requested fresh garlic, which wasn't listed as a topping on the menu, but which is generally available.
My plate-sized pizza had a very thin crust; in fact, the crust was thinner than the cheese layer. It was good cheese, smooth and stringy, and definitely needed to be consumed while the pizza was still hot.
The underside of the crust was well browned toward the center of the pie, much lighter toward the edge. While it was reasonably crisp, however, there was way too much corn meal underneath. I don't mind a little corn meal, I know it serves a purpose (primarily to keep the dough from sticking to the peel), but this was really coated with it. Some places do use it to give the crust extra crispness (though I don't generally care for that), but this was just gritty.
The crust itself was all right, with a chewy texture, but it wasn't so bready or flavorful that I could really enjoy eating it all by itself. So the wide "naked" ring of crust along the edge wasn't a plus here either. Not a big problem, but again this crust benefited from the toppings, which could have been spread a little closer to the edge.
The sauce was more apparent to the eye than to the tongue. I think it was simply applied thinly - not much moisture could have evaporated, under that layer of cheese, and the crust wasn't soggy, so I don't think much soaked into the dough either. But it was hard to taste, and aside from the cheese, I didn't pick up much moisture here. The bits of shredded basil were OK, if a little dry. If you like basil, I think it's best to add some fresh basil at or very near the end of the baking process; dry basil has relatively little flavor, unless it cooks in a liquid, such as tomato sauce, for some time. This basil looked fresh, but it also looked as if it had dried out in the oven, which sapped it of much of its flavor and aroma.
The garlic was a good choice, and I'd recommend it, unless of course, you don't like garlic. It had a mild yet pronounced flavor that added an extra dimension to this pie.One of my companions also got pizza, a white, four-cheese pie. We agreed that it was good, but the four cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, Asiago and Romano) tended to blend together into one mass, and we couldn't pick up their distinctive flavors or tell what each contributed to the whole. I'm frankly inexperienced with "quattro formaggio" pizza, so maybe that's just how they are, and I don't fault Bocaccini's for that. Maybe the whole point of the style is to blend four different cheeses. But for me, if I'm getting a pizza with four distinctive cheeses, I want to be able to taste them each and get a sense of how they play off each other.
This was a pleasant enough lunch - the setting was comfortable, with an open, airy feel, and faux-industrial decor accented by some splashes of color. Service was fine. Oh, and my third companion very much liked his panini, and he can be a tough critic.
The pizza? No huge complaints here, but several little flaws. The excessive corn meal underneath, the wide, barren strip along the edge of the relatively bland crust, the absence of any noticeable sauce layer - none of these were enough to make me dislike this pizza, which all in all wasn't bad, but collectively they knock it down to a no-better-than-average C.
Bocaccini's, 6720 Pittsford Palmyra Road (Rt. 31), Fairport, NY 14450

Sun. 4 - 9 p.m., Mon. - Fri. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sat. noon - 10 p.m.

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