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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back to Nino's

Lately I've been mostly focusing on going to places I haven't previously posted about. Mostly new places, and places some distance from Rochester.
But now and then you need to get back to basics, to the tried and true. So it was a few nights ago, when I went to Nino's on Culver Road. I've written about Nino's before, several times, but it had been years, which is far too long.
You can find some background information about Nino's in this post, so I won't go over that ground again. But owner Giacomo has been making his trademark focaccia and pizza in Rochester for close to four decades.
Nino's does not deliver, but that's a good thing, to me, because I enjoy going there. 
Why? Well, there's the place itself. If anybody ever wants to shoot a movie involving a scene in a pizzeria set in the 1970s or '80s, this would be a good choice. Not much has changed here since 1977, including the pizza.
That's not to say that Nino's hasn't kept up with the times. Giacomo showed me something on his smart phone, which was a generation or two ahead of mine. And I liked seeing an old model of one of Christopher Columbus's ships, of a style I remember from my teenage years (I'm referring to the model, not the ship) right next to the computer.
But I particularly love going into a place where the cooler still bears the logo of Like Cola. Obviously Nino's abides by the principle, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And Nino's pizza doesn't need any fixing, any more than the cooler.
I got a medium pie, which was plenty for my daughter and me (my wife was not partaking on this occasion). Nino's standard pizza is thick, and that's what I went with, the standard. I've gotten thin-crust pizza from Nino's before, and liked it just fine, but a thicker, focaccia-style crust is what they know and do best, so I went with that.
I did not phone in my order, but instead ordered upon my arrival. I did that in part to give myself some time to chat with Giacomo, who remains as affable as ever. Having spoken to him at length before, we briefly touched on pizza-related matters, but soon moved on to current affairs and American history. I realized that Giacomo's knowledge extends well beyond pizza, and that he probably knows considerably more about our country than most native-born Americans, but after about 15 minutes I had to cut our conversation short, as the pizza was ready to go. I stuck it in my insulated pizza bag and rushed it home.
The crust was about an inch thick along the edge, a half to three quarters toward the center. It was well risen and breadlike.
The underside was browned, with some bubble spots. It was firm on the surface, and though not crisp, it had some surface bite, and was not oily. The interior was chewy and bready, and as befitting Nino's self-description as a "focacceria," it would've been well worth eating, unadorned. All pizza is, at some level, bread with toppings (leaving aside such deliberate oddities as cauliflower-crust pizza, ramen-crust pizza, etc.), and Nino's pizza exemplifies that.
Not that I mean to sell the toppings short. This pie was coated with a light layer of red sauce, which had slightly soaked into the crust, and smoothly melted mozzarella cheese. I'm more of a crust guy than a cheese guy, but the cheese is a real standout here. I'm never quite sure what's meant by that vague advertising term, "quality cheese," but if it means anything, this is quality cheese.
I don't usually go for meat-heavy pizza, but my daughter does, so I deferred to her preferences, and got sausage and meatballs. They were crisp on the outside, meaty on the inside, with a mild flavor, and despite my generally non-carnivorous leanings, a good complement to the other components.
As always, a very good pizza from Nino's. Having said that, I will add, in all candor, that this style may not be to everyone's liking. If your ideal pizza is thin and cracker-crisp, well, this isn't that. But I can only describe what I had, and give you my opinion.
And in my opinion, Nino's remains a local treasure. Nino's was making artisanal pizza before anybody around here had ever heard of the term. It deserves a spot on any local pizza lover's must-do list.

Nino's Pizzeria, 1330 Culver Rd., Rochester 14609
(585) 482-2264

Sun. - Thu. 4 p.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 4 p.m. - midnight

Friday, October 14, 2016

Papa Roni's, Pavilion

Another road trip report here, from Pavilion, NY, which is about 35 miles SW of downtown Rochester, in Genesee County, at the crossroads of Routes 19 and 63. (And Pavilion itself pretty much consists of a crossroads.)
I'm into local history, and a little digging revealed that Pavilion was named after a hotel in Saratoga, NY. That seems a trifle odd to me, but I guess it must've been some hotel.
Like any good, small town, Pavilion has its pizzeria, Papa Roni's. I stopped a few weeks ago and picked up a couple of pepperoni slices.
The crust was thin, with a medium-brown, screen-marked bottom. It was firm, but not crisp. I'd call this crust "serviceable," in the sense that it sufficed as a base for the toppings, but in itself it was frankly nothing special. The cornicione was narrow and crunchy.
And the toppings were pretty good. These slices were relatively heavy on the sauce, which was tomatoey and a bit sweet. The cheese had melted into a uniform layer, and it straddled the line between chewy and gooey. The thin slices of pepperoni were fine, if unremarkable.
PapaRoni's offers small, large and sheet pizzas, with 18 toppings to choose from, and six specialty pizzas. They also do wings (10 sauces), subs, sandwiches, wraps, and fryer food, plus a Friday fish fry.
So my take on this pizza? OK crust. A little too flabby for my taste, but it had no significant defects.  The toppings were tasty and well balanced. The cheese was good but not great, and the overall combination of crust, cheese, sauce and pepperoni made for a decent slice. I enjoyed eating these, which is the bottom line. So I'd say these slices were more than the sum of their parts. A better crust, either more breadlike or more crisp, would make a big improvement, in my opinion, but these were good enough to warrant a stop in, if you're passing by.

PapaRoni's, 11090 S Lake Rd, Pavilion, New York

(585) 584-3170

Sun. - Thu. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.