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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ruck's Pizza Kitchen, Lima: Sheet Pizza

Pizza aficionados may tend to discount "sheet" pizza, as little more than a quick, cheap way to feed a bunch of people. With an individual pie, we imagine the pizzaiolo tossing the dough, hand-crafting the pie, and tending to it the oven. A sheet pizza seems too ... easy. You spread the dough on the sheet, top it, stick it in the oven, and pull it out. Done.
While there is a lot of bad sheet pizza out there, there's no reason it can't be good. So-called sheet pizza is an American descendant, or perhaps cousin, of Sicilian-style pizza, and nobody ever accused the Sicilians of not knowing how to make good pizza (well, perhaps some Neapolitans have, but I'm not aware of it).
All that's a lead-up to this. At my wife's behest, I was recently tasked with picking up a sheet pizza for an event she was running, and I went with Ruck's Pizza Kitchen in Lima.
I reported on Ruck's last May,when I got two slices. They were good enough to rate a "B". But I know that a pizzeria's slices are often not a good indicator of how good their sheet pizza will be, and vice versa.
Not so here; this was good pizza. I'm afraid I neglected to take any photos of the underside or the sides of the individual slices, partly because within seconds of my opening the box, the pizza was set upon by a horde of hungry teenagers.
In contrast to some sheet pizzas, this was not oily, nor did it have the fried-dough-like crunch that is all too prevalent with that style. The crust was firm underneath, and the interior had a faint aroma of fresh bread, with a good chew.
The pizza was topped with a medium-thick sauce, which had a basic tomatoey flavor accented by dried herbs. I generally don't like heavily cheese-laden pizza, and this was just about right for me. The cheese seemed to be straight mozzarella, nicely melted, just enough to play off the crust and the cup-and-char pepperoni, which was crisp but chewy.
So no, sheet pizza need not mean bad pizza. This was a very nice job by Ruck's. I gave their slices a B, and I'll give this a B as well. It was an above-average example of an underappreciated style.

Ruck's Pizza Kitchen

7294 W. Main St., Lima, NY

Mon. - Thu. 11 - 9, Fri. & Sat. 11 - 10, Sun. noon - 8

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

1872 Cafe, West Main Street

I stopped the other day at the 1872 Cafe on West Main Street. If you don't know the story, earlier this year Sam Fantauzzo, the owner of Salvatore's, bought this place, which had housed a cafe owned by Spiritus Christi Church. The site, if not the building, is historic, as it's where Susan B. Anthony famously tried to vote in 1872.
I interviewed "Soccer Sam" Fantauzzo in October 2013, and he impressed me not only as a nice guy, but with his dedication to with his commitment to this area. He bought and kept going the Donuts Delite building on Empire Boulevard, a local treasure. He also bought and reopened the Garage Door on East Ridge Road. So for all the suburban locations that he's opened, Sam seems to want to maintain a presence in the city, and he seems to have a particular fondness for historic locations and local institutions (eventually I need to try his resurrected Arthur Treacher's fish and chips, which I fondly remember from years ago).
Sure, pizza slices are not hard to find in Rochester. Nearly every convenience store sells them. But in poorer neighborhoods, most of it sucks. Premade pizza shells, topped with cheap ingredients. I don't mean to tar them all with the same brush. But, most of it sucks. And it's rare to find a place where you can sit down and eat your slice, at all, much less in pleasant surroundings.
So going into the 1872 Cafe was like taking a breath of fresh air. The space was airy and bright. A few customers were gathered around some of the tables facing East Main Street.
1872 Cafe offers a "Speedy Slice," as opposed, I guess, to Salvatore's usual "Super Slice." They had several sliced pies available, and I got a pepperoni, banana pepper and red onion slice.  It was thin and wide. I didn't measure it, but I'd say it was about a quarter of a large pie. A plain cheese slice is $2; this was $3.
The underside was browned, with just a faint trace of surface oil. It was supple but not limp, and firm to the touch. The edge was well formed and breadlike.
The toppings were moderately added, but not skimpy, and they were added in good proportion to the thin crust. The basic tomato sauce was topped with a uniform but thin layer of mozzarella. The cup and char pepperoni was crisp, and the scattered peppers and red onion added some complementary notes.
I won't run through the whole menu, which you can find online, but in addition to various permutations of pizza, 1872 Cafe offers specialty coffee and doughnuts. They also serve "boneless wings" and soup.
So how do I rate this pizza? Objectively, looking at the pizza in a vacuum, I'd rate it a C. That's not a bad grade, it just means it was average pizza, overall. If you're looking for a big, thick, heavy slice of pizza, loaded with toppings, this wasn't it. But it was enjoyable, and I'd have it again.
Beyond that, I like what they're doing here. Good pizza at a reasonable price, in a comfortable and attractive setting. I'd like to see 1872 Cafe become an anchor and gathering spot for residents and workers in the neighborhood, and I hope you'll check it out for yourself.

1872 Cafe, 431 W. Main St. Rochester
(585) 323-1872
Open daily 7 - 7

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pizza Pantry, Corfu

I was recently in the Batavia area, and made a short detour to hit The Pizza Pantry in Corfu, which is about 16 miles from downtown Batavia.

On arrival, around noon on a Friday, I found a small takeout area, adjacent to the main restaurant/bar area. Surprisingly, the only slices available were pepperoni slices. So I got a pepperoni slice.
The crust was relatively thick, and browned underneath, with some bubbling. There were no screen marks. The underside was firm and dry to the touch. The interior had a pleasantly chewy texture.
The slice was well balanced, with enough sauce to play off the crust. I detected some oregano in the background. The sauce was more sweet than salty or acidic, but not overly sweet.
The cheese was generously applied. It seemed to be all mozzarella, and was well melted, though it had congealed a bit. The pepperoni was fine, but unremarkable. Not quite crisp, but not too greasy either.

Pizza Pantry's pizza menu comprises five sizes, from a "mini" to a 24-piece "party size." There are twelve toppings to pick from, and four specialty pizzas:  taco, chicken finger, white, and BBQ chicken.
As I mentioned, Pizza Pantry has a full-service restaurant, so they also offer a full to-go menu of pasta, burgers, subs, salads, wings, and fried fish and shrimp.
This was reasonably good pizza, with no obvious shortcomings, but neither was it outstandingly good. It was good, serviceable, but average pizza. So I'll give it a C.

Pizza Pantry, 9468 Alleghany Rd.
Corfu, NY 14036


Tue. - Thu. 10:30 - 10:00, Fri. & Sat. 10:30 - 11:00, Sun. 11:00 - 10:00, Mon. closed