A recent lunchtime walk through a neighborhood near my office took me past a Greek restaurant in a formerly German area selling pizza. If there is one thing a pizza geek can’t pass up, it is the chance to try another pizza source, hoping that a gem will emerge from unlikely surroundings. If you don’t try it, you’ll always wonder…
Florina’s Greek Pita House (menu) is located near the southern edge of Schiller Park in Syracuse, just a few doors down from the more well known Riley’s. Search around online and you’ll find some references to the good, cheap eats to be had at Florina’s. I couldn’t say anything about that, because in true Pizza Geek fashion I headed straight for the pizza. It is a small restaurant that probably caters mostly to takeout, but there are two tables and a few stools at the front window. Decor and style is dated.
At lunch time today there was most of one, cheese pizza in the warming bin. For just $1, including tax, I sampled a slice. It quickly became obvious that it was made using a commercially prepared pizza shell. I recognized the flavor and texture from when I used to help with pizza day at my children’s school. When using this type of crust, I think of it as more of an “assemble and heat” operation, rather than crafting a complete experience from scratch. That isn’t necessarily a BAD thing, and for reasons of economy and speed it is understandable.
This crust was evenly browned, but not charred, with a reasonably good crunch. Interestingly, the top (and bottom, for that matter) was browned much more at the edge than middle. Being “twice baked” gives it a rather stiff, chewey texture that extends through the thickness of the crust, rather than a crispy exterior and soft interior. Of course, it lacks the fresh taste you would prefer from a pizza, but this still tasted kind of OK. My piece was re-heated a little, but the relatively heavily applied cheese remained congealed. Underneath was an ordinary sauce that didn’t really have any distinct tomato flavor.
It was OK as emergency pizza, and something that kids would probably enjoy because it is chewey and bland. To be fair, Florina’s isn’t primarily a pizza restaurant. And where else can you find a slice of pizza for $1, including tax? The Pizza Geek grades it 2.5 out of 5 slices.
What do you think? Are pre-baked pizza shells ever acceptable? Please click the comment link below.
Summary – Pros: Cheap. Cons: Commercial pizza shell crust. Tasteless sauce.
Florina’s Greek Pita House (menu) - 302 Park St. – Syracuse, 13203 – 474-5632