Osteria Rocco (Neapolitan pizza, part three)

And for the final installment of Heather’s Neapolitan pizza article written for CITIZEN magazine:

Osteria Rocco, 165 Monroe Ave., Rochester, 585-454-3510, roccorochester.com

            Okay, so this pizza wasn’t cooked in a wood-fired oven, but was it ever good! The cooking method here is to use a brick-lined gas oven that runs at about 700 degrees. Yes, 700 degrees. That’s hot, and the nicely charred crust is evidence. This crust was a bit denser than at the other two places. It was crisp on the outside and super chewy on the inside, and we loved it!

First up was the margherita, which had crushed California tomatoes, basil leaves, and – cue the choir of angels – FRESH mozzarella. I did say we were pizza snobs, right? To me, a margherita just isn’t quite the same without the fresh mozzarella. The Rocco margherita was, therefore, my favorite.

Heather cutting the margherita!

Our chef’s choice pizza was the vongole. Its toppings consisted of clams (yes, clams!), pancetta, parsley, chili peppers, and garlic oil. This pizza had a really nice heat to it. The toppings made for a delightfully unusual flavor combination.

The vongole, fresh from the kitchen. Clams on a pizza!

The pizza at Rocco is served in the traditional Neapolitan style, which means that it comes whole, and is meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. This reminded us of our beloved Una Pizza, where the pizza is also served whole. However, Rocco helps you out by providing you with a pair of kitchen shears with which to cut your pizza into slices, if you so choose. How fun!

We had an appetizer before our pizza. Fresh homemade ricotta. It’s worth a trip all on its own!

Fresh homemade ricotta. Incredible.

We’re sure that there are many more Neapolitan-style pizzas out there for us to try, no matter where you are. If you have any recommendations, leave us a comment!

Lucca Wood-fire Bistro (Neapolitan pizza, part two)

Sorry for the delay (we’ve been a bit busy!) – here is the second installment of Heather’s Neapolitan pizza article for CITIZEN magazine:

Lucca Wood-fire Bistro, 90 W. Main St., Victor, 585-924-9009, luccawfpizza.com

Like at Ember, this pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven, this one reaching temperatures of around 550 to 650 degrees. We really like this crust, which is a great blend of crunchy and chewy.

For the margherita, the toppings were sliced plum tomatoes, grated mozzarella, chopped basil, garlic, and olive oil. We liked that the basil was put on after the pizza came out of the oven, keeping it nice and fresh, and that there was lots of it! We’re kind of partial to basil.

The funghi, along with the margherita, and a couple glasses of old vine zin!

Our second pizza, chosen by the chef, was the funghi. The toppings for this pizza are garlic and oil, mozzarella and asiago cheeses, roasted red peppers, spinach, prosciutto, white and portobello mushrooms, finished with truffle oil and parmesan. Wow! What a pizza! It is rich, creamy, and decadent, and one that we will certainly go back for.

This is a wonderful time of year to visit Lucca. They have plenty of outdoor seating, and we adore sitting on the porch and watching the world go by while we enjoy our delicious meal.

Good pizza AND good dessert!

I just have to add that while we were there, we also had the chocolate chip cannolis for dessert. They were excellent! Oh, and the boys enjoyed their cheese pizza, too!

The “my father is a photographer” syndrome.

After giving it much thought and consideration, we consider Lucca Pizza to be our favorite pizza this side of the Mississippi. Tell chef/owner Matt Gervasi we sent you!

Simple syrup solutions

Hi, it’s Heather! This post is actually an excerpt from Local Bubbly, an article I wrote for CITIZEN, a new Rochester area magazine. In the first part of the article (which can be seen in our post The Sparkling Finger Lakes),  I shared our tasting notes on three local sparkling wines – Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs, Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvée, and Hunt Country Chardonnay Champagne. While all of these sparkling wines were fantastic on their own, during our tasting session, we decided to mix a bit of flavored simple syrup in with each of the wines to create a trio of tasty cocktails.

Making simple syrup is as easy as the name implies. Combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan. (We typically use one cup of each, and sometimes use brown sugar rather than white.) Bring the mixture just to a boil, reduce the heat, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool completely. We pour ours into bottles and store it in the refrigerator. It has become a staple in our kitchen!

Our three simple syrups being infused with flavor!

To go with our three sparkling wines, we decided to make three different flavored simple syrups – rhubarb, cranberry cinnamon, and brown sugar orange. Flavoring the simple syrups was quite easy. Once the sugar had dissolved, we stirred in the necessary ingredients. Chopped rhubarb, cranberries that had been sprinkled with cinnamon and roasted for about an hour at 350º, and an orange peel with pith removed (add about half the juice of the orange to the simple syrup, as well) were our ingredients of choice. It was then time to take each of our three saucepans off the heat and let them sit for an hour. We strained the simple syrups into containers, let it all come to room temperature, and chilled it before use. Feel free to get creative with your flavoring, using nearly any spice, herb, or fruit you desire.

The finished syrups look as good as they taste.

To create the cocktails pictured, pour one to two ounces of flavored simple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it) into a champagne flute then top it off with sparkling wine.

Ready to drink!

The Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs mixed nicely with the rhubarb-flavored simple syrup. The Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvée was superb with the cranberry cinnamon simple syrup. Our favorite combination was the Hunt Country Chardonnay Champagne with the brown sugar orange simple syrup. The deep caramelized flavors of this wine paired nicely with the brown sugar and citrus of the simple syrup, making for a deliciously decadent sparkling treat.

We hope you get a chance to enjoy some of the many delicious sparkling wines that our region has to offer, whether on their own or in your favorite drink recipe. And, if you haven’t done so already, pick up a free copy of CITIZEN. Cheers!