Ottimo Pizza is closed and has been replaced in kind at the same location – new place is pretty so-so. We’re back to Pizza Buono as our go-to for pizza when not having homemade, they’re back on track.
This is maybe a bit premature as it is based on only a single visit, but if we go back I’ll expand.
Ottimo Pizza is at the corner of Gerling and Rosa in Schenectady and boasts “Brick Oven Pizza”. I finally decided to give them a try to see if they might want to be our go-to pizza place in the area. After a decade, I’m saddened to report that our struggle goes on. Hard to believe, but after living in several other states, NY is the one where we just can’t find a place to reliably be the spot to just call and get a pizza on a Friday night. For a while, that place was Capo de Pizza and I guess most people know about Greg Kasmerek’s history, so I won’t get into it here. Anyway, after Capo closed the search was on. Say what you will (or must), their pizza was a fantastic deal and delicious.
Home Style was the spot for a while, but after a few too many experiences with rudeness, mixed up orders, and prices that we couldn’t justify paying (especially the markup for toppings, of which there was practically none, like one mushroom per slice), we dropped Home Style. I can’t say if that was temporary, they may have corrected things, so I can’t comment on their recent status, but they lost us as customers. That said, the place is still packed, so I guess most people are still satisfied with them.
Then for a long time we were really pretty happy with Pizza Buono on Van Antwerp. Price was reasonable for what you got, pizza was tasty, they got orders right (why is that so hard for so many pizza joints?), good topping flavor and coverage, etc. Then, a few years ago, things got a little off and we no longer felt like we were getting a good value or good pizza. I’m not 100% sure, but I think it was sold to the current owner a bit after that. Anyway, we tried here and there without luck and eventually gave Pizza Buono another try and it was back to being really good. Good-to-great value, yummy, etc. The owner, a nutritionist, started playing up the local ingredients, available wheat crust, and has recently added a full blown juice bar. I think she keeps bees and sells honey, too. Anyway, things were good until the past few months. The crust has gotten thinner, to the point of being floppy and annoying. We also appreciated the generous pizza sizes, but it seems like they decided to get more careful about how much dough they were using, but just kept rolling out huge pizzas, even with less dough, resulting in, as Bilbo might say, a feeling like butter scraped over too much bread.
Enter Ottimo. I’d heard good and bad about them and finally decided the time was right to try some pizza and wings. How about a review in bullet points?
- Pizza looked like it had been sitting, despite my picking it up at the time I was told it would be ready. You know how the cheese starts to harden, etc. Like that. Not a deal breaker, especially on what seemed to be a really busy night given the bustle of the employees, there was like a half dozen people in there (although I saw no other customers in my 5 minute visit). It was hot and everything, but the cheese didn’t have any stretch and my first slice felt like the second, after it’s sat on the counter for 15 minutes.
- Very thin. I know some people are all about the thin crust. Well, I like some heft to my crust, just a bit. I don’t want the ‘flop’. Not bad, but not my preferred pizza. And shouldn’t thin crust be crispy, especially with a hot brick oven pizza? that was my understanding, but as it’s not my thing, maybe I’m wrong.
- Very disappointing dough. Bread-like and tasteless. I didn’t get any seasoning flavor from the crust, nor any yeasty goodness that’s the calling card of dough that has been mixed and allowed to sit and develop flavor. This, more than anything, is where I would recommend they up their effort.
- I don’t know what to say about the sauce. It was…fine? It didn’t stand out as either great or bad, not offensive or exciting. Fine.
- Price was good, size was spot-on for what I ordered, topping coverage was good and flavorful.
- Service was friendly+. As I said, it looked busy, but I was greeted heartily. Out of the blue, I was encouraged to take a 2-liter of soda with my order. Umm…OK. Sure!
- I got boneless wings because they’re just easier to eat. I know that they aren’t going to tell me how their regular bone-in wings are, but it is what it is. They were well cooked and tasty chicken, although a bit sloppily sauced. They either never took a trip into a bowl for saucing or didn’t spend much time there. Instead they seemed to have the sauce ladled over them in a hurry. It was OK though, there was plenty and it tasted good. I’m nitpicking here with them, I liked them. I would get them again.
- I guess they sell slices, although at least when I was in there I saw a single cheese pizza in the case, looking like it had been there quite a while.
So. Do we have a winner? I don’t think so. Really, the floppy thin crust is the reason I’m not sure I’ll be back. If I want thin, floppy crust I’ll probably just call Pizza Buono. And I’ll hope that they figure it out again. Or else, well, the search goes on. And more homemade pizza, especially with grilling season just about here.
Ottimo doesn’t seem to have a web site, their menu can be found on the Facebook page, linked above. Overall, I’d say it was good enough and a decent enough value to say, “Give them a try and see what you think for yourself.”