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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Roncone's reconceived

I recently ran across a news story about Roncone's, the long-time Italian restaurant on Lyell Avenue, saying that after a change of ownership, they now serve pizza. I was particularly intrigued by this as Roncone's building still displays a sign for the old Veltre's bakery, which I posted about back in 2011. Veltre's made pizza, which in the early days they would sell at local bars, probably including Roncone's.

So a few weeks ago, when my wife and I had a chance for a "date night," we headed to Roncone's for dinner. On this Friday evening at around 7:30, it was quite busy and we were told that without reservations, we were looking at maybe a 40-minute wait. That's a bit beyond my usual tolerance for waiting time, but there was ample room at the bar, so I asked if we could eat there, which was no problem.
Pizza is such a recent addition to the menu that it wasn't yet on the printed menu.There is a separate pizza station, with sliced pies out, and the pizza ovens in back. The pizza menu is printed on a chalkboard above.
My wife an I shared a medium cheese pie, and some garlic knots. The pie had a thin-to-medium crust, with a well-formed, crisp but not brittle cornicione. The crust had an enjoyably bready flavor and a chewy but not tough texture. The underside was charred here and there, with some corn meal visible, some of it a little burnt or sooty. Individual slices passed the "fold test" - no drooping when held in one hand, folded.
The toppings were simple of course, but good. Sauce had a touch of tomatoey sweetness, and the slightly browned mozzarella was nice and stretchy but not gooey. My wife declared it the best pizza she'd ever had at a restaurant, which might sound like damning by faint praise, but I know what she meant. Restaurant pizza often disappoints. This did not.
A week or two later, I returned for lunch with a couple friends. This time I got a pepperoni slice and a tomato pie slice.
Before the Utican purists jump on me, I guess this was not a traditional tomato pie, in the sense that it had sausage and peppers, in addition to the usual bread crumbs and grated cheese, plus some shredded basil. If that makes it not a tomato pie, then let's just call it pan pizza, or Sicilian, or square pizza. By any name, it was good, with a crunchy underside and an open crumb. The toppings had soaked in on top a bit, but the crust was not soggy.
The pepperoni slice was marked by the same bready, crisp crust as my prior cheese pie, with meaty slices of pepperoni.
So two successful pizza visits, but I should give a nod to Roncone's other options. As before, they still have a wide variety of Italian-American foods to offer. You can see their menu on their website, as well as more information about the head chef, Jimmy, and their background. I'll also post some additional photos on my Facebook page.
On my dinner visit, I met and chatted very briefly with the pizzaiolo, Franco. With a name like Franco he had me half-sold on their pizza already.

Roncone's, 232 Lyell Ave., Rochester
(585) 458-3090

Tue. & Wed., 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Thu. 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

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