Follow Route 5 through Fayetteville, travel a few miles past Green Lakes, in to Madison County, and you’ll come to Bear Country Pizza & Pastry on Chittenango’s western edge (it’s “Bear Country” because that’s the Chittenango school mascot). There is minimal seating. When I visited on a Saturday evening, very few baked goods were displayed. I took home a medium supreme (your choice of 5 toppings), with sausage, mushrooms, olives, onions, and green peppers. At $15.99 for 14″, it was just a little more expensive than average. Crust thickness was about 1/4″.
Bear Country uses a large conveyor oven, with pizza baked on a screen. I think it is a little more common for conveyor baking to be done in a pan, which essentialy fries the dough in a little oil. So, you might think that using a screen in a conveyor oven would make for a crispier, drier crust because moisture could escape, but not so in this case. As you can see in the photos, the crust appears well-browned and looks good. However, when biting into it, I found little or no crispiness, and dough that flattened and squished into “goo” when pinched. “Poofy” is another word that comes to mind. I’m no oven expert, but I’m going out on a limb to guess that moisture from the gas heat prevents a good, hard crisping of the crust. On the other hand, stone-lined ovens that heat the dough by contact tend to provide crispier crusts. Aside from the oven and crispiness questions, I’d say that the crust on this pizza generally lacked personality, which is likely a function of the flour and how the dough was fermented.
Now that I’ve gotten my gripes out of the way, it is smooth sailing from here on out! The sauce was nearly perfect, with an excellent, slightly chunky texture (some bits of tomato peel were visible), mild spice load (with visible spice flakes and garlic chunks), and excellent fresh tomato taste that was slightly acidic and not salty. Also, it did not soak in to the crust or cheese. As I said, it was nearly perfect sauce! The cheese was excellent as well: soft, white, not oily, not browned, and not salty. Toppings were fresh and tasted great. While I would have liked a little more of some of the toppings, a five-topping pizza can get pretty soggy if you overdo the toppings.
All things considered, the quality of the sauce, cheese and toppings helps make up for the poofy, bland crust. I have no doubt that if you put this sauce, cheese and toppings on a better crust, you’d have a legitimate contender for a 4.75 or 5 slice rating! So, although it isn’t as good as it could have been, it was still a very tasty pizza, and the Pizza Geek gives it a rating of 4 out of 5 slices.
Summary – Pros: top-notch sauce, cheese and toppings. Cons: soft, poofy, bland crust.
What do YOU think? Have you tried Bear Country Pizza? Click the comment link below and tell us about it!