Riccardi’s Pizzeria, 230 West Genesee Street, offers delivery, takeout, and a large dining area from a storefront that’s just one block from Clinton Square. Parking can be a challenge, so I’d guess that a lot of the business comes from people who work or live within walking distance. Joe and Carrie Riccardi opened this location in May, offering a typical menu of pizzeria food, featuring New York style pizza. By the way, the Post-Standard and Syracuse.com recently took a look at Riccardi’s.
On my first visit, I picked up a cheese slice (1/8th of a 20″ pie, $2.00+tax). This was a very thin crust, thinner than I’ve ever seen from a pizza this big. It was less than 1/4″ thick, except for the rim. The reheating crisped the bottom quite a bit, leading to the cracking that you can see in the photo. I noted reasonably good interior structure, although the rim stayed squished where I held it, rather than springing back. At any rate, the crisp bottom made it possible to hold this rather large slice without much droop.
The sauce had a little more processed taste than the average pizza. It was applied a little on the thin side, some spice flakes were visible, and the spice load was mild overall. Cheese had a little oil separation, and was applied in good proportion to the crust and sauce. Overall, I felt the slice “worked” well, with the ingredients in good proportion, a pleasant taste, and I gave it a 4 slice rating. My notes from that visit said it was “good NY style.”
Before I had a chance to write a review based on the slice, one of the guys at the office said, “Let’s go out for pizza soon, you can review it – how about Riccardi’s?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I had just been there (we’ve had that kind of discussion before), so a few weeks later we brought a group of 5 to Riccardi’s for lunch. We ordered two large pizzas, one with half pepperoni, the other with onions, peppers, mushroom and sausage (there were wings also, which everyone enjoyed). These were both 18″ large, listed on the menu board at $10.99 plus toppings.
As with previous reviews that took place with a group from the office, it was a challenge to inspect the pizza and make notes before the pizza was all gone. Just like the slice I mentioned above, this pizza was very thin, 1/4″ or less, and about 1/2″ thick on the rim. The earlier slice was much stiffer because of being reheated. Slices from the fresh pies were very floppy, and needed to be folded, rolled up, or eaten with a knife and fork.
This time, the sauce seemed a little more plentiful than it was on the earlier slice. It’s likely that some of the moisture soaks in to the crust and cheese as it cools. It was a fairly “loose” or moist sauce, with color trending more toward orange than red. There wasn’t much fresh tomato taste, it was a bit salty, and the spice load was mild and indistinct. Some of the spice I was tasting appeared to be from pepper that was added to the top just before baking.
The cheese was applied in an appropriate amount for a very thin crust. It was a little orangey, and there was some oiliness, but not enough oil to be a big problem. Green peppers and mushrooms were apparently from a can, rather than fresh as the Pizza Geek prefers. The sausage and pepperoni were fine. The moisture level on these pizzas was pretty high, especially on the one with the onions, peppers, mushrooms and sausage. You have to expect that when there are lots of toppings, and that’s probably one reason why some NY Style pizza afficianados say you should never use more than one or two toppings.
I asked the others at the table how they would rate this pizza. One of them spent about a year working (and eating pizza) in Manhattan, another used to travel and eat out a lot, and a third just loves to eat pizza. They generally liked it, and settled on a rating between 3.5 and 4. I thought it was generally OK, but not spectacular, so on this occasion I gave it a Pizza Geek rating of 3.5. I think the differences between this pizza and the slice from before is that the slice had a crisper crust from the reheating, and the sauce seemed to taste a little better on the slice. Also, both the slice and the fresh pies were rather salty.
Hang on, we’re not done yet! Before I had a chance to write the review based on the slice and the pies the group had, someone ordered Riccardi’s pizza for a lunch-time party at the office. Carrie Riccardi and another employee brought 7 large pizzas, wings and drinks. I thought, “This is good…I can have another sample, and can get more comments from others.” Plus, it’s very cool when it’s the boss’s treat!
We had cheese, mushroom, pepperoni, and veggie pizzas, cross-cut to help accomodate the large number of people from the office who would be coming through. I grabbed a couple of pepperoni slices, a couple of veggie, and headed back to my desk. The long slender pieces were easiest to eat by lifting them high, tilting your head back and lowering them in. The taste was substantially similar to what I described above. This time, however, it seemed even more “orangey.” When a pizza (particularly a thin one) is baked, it can boil the sauce up through the cheese and turn it orange and oily, which alters the texture and taste of the cheese (much chewier, for instance). As before, the sauce had a processed or cooked texture and taste, and pepper was visible on top of some of the pies. Also, I again noted the tendency for the crust rim to stay squished where I held it between my fingers. The interior of the crust had a very fine bubble structure, and was a little gummy under the sauce.
A little later, when I bumped into some coworkers near the water cooler, I asked how they liked it. They shrugged their shoulders, scrunched their faces and said, “It was OK.” Nobody likes to criticize free pizza. For whatever reason, it didn’t seem quite the same as what we had in the restaurant – actually a notch below it. Taking all things in to consideration, concentrating on the whole rather than the individual parts, I decided to give the party pizza a Pizza Geek rating of 3 out of 5 slices.
So, with three somewhat different experiences, how do we settle on an overall rating? Does this mean the product is inconsistent, or rather that the conditions (delivery vs. eat in, slice vs. fresh pie) account for the variation? I don’t really know. In trying to decide between a 3 and 3.5 overall rating, I looked back at other pizzerias with those ratings, and still couldn’t decide. The office party pizza was a 3, the eat-in pizzas were 3.5, and the slice was a 4, so I’ll split the difference and settle on 3.5. If you decide to find out for yourself, please come back here and post your comments.
Summary – Pros: good thin crust. Cons: canned peppers and mushrooms, orangey cheese, salty.
What do YOU think? Have you tried pizza from Riccardi’s? Do you agree with my review? Click the comment link below and tell us about it!