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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

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