I’ve been working on exploring the restaurants near my house, and I found a compelling pizza joint.
On first glance, Pizza Buono (1007 Van Antwerp Rd in Niskayuna/Schenectady, right off Upper Union St after the 7/Union split) appears to be just like every other pizza joint around here. Unlike the other joints, they have a mission statement, right at the top of their menu: “Our mission: To serve nutritious, minimally processed, delicious food using local food as available.” Given how much of a bandwagon the “local food” movement is, it was hard to believe, especially for a pizza joint. The menu also specifies that the “owner is a mother and certified nutritionist.”
I had to stop in, so we went to have a pizza there.
They have an entire portion of their space dedicated to juicing. What pizza place around here do you know that doubles as a juice bar?
Cassie wanted to try their garlic knots (6 for $4.95). Of course I tried some, too.
These were massive, and well worth the $5. They were so big, you can use them as a roll for a sandwich. Like most places, these were made ahead and warmed in the brick oven, yielding a really crisp exterior. They were then bathed in a good amount of olive oil and a whole lot of garlic, parsley, and Parmesan cheese. The dough they use for these (and likely all of their pizzas, strombolis, calzones, etc) is very standard. They serve the knots with a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce, which I thought was much more like a homemade marinara than a standard, all-too-sweet pizzeria sauce. I’m not much of a dipper, so I didn’t use a whole lot of it.
The pizza we picked that night was the buffalo chicken, but we opted for the whole wheat crust. That was probably the best choice we made. The whole wheat dough at Pizza Buono is one of the best I’ve ever had. Yes, better than DeFazios.
From looking at the pizza, you can see it has that homemade, imperfect shape, and, having worked with homemade whole wheat doughs, it’s tough to get a perfect round disc. I’m totally fine with that. The areas where the liquid from the top of the pizza rolled down the crust while it baked…I’m fine with that too (I’m sure their ovens don’t appreciate it, but that’s what the brush is for at the end of the night).
The taste of the crust is very nutty. They bake it very crisp, right at that point where the earthiness of the grain stands out. It doesn’t have that chewy, glutenous texture that many associate with pizza, but that’s kind of what I want when I order whole wheat. A more brittle, less supple crust. The cheese on top seems like a blend of a higher moisture mozzarella and some other grated cheeses.
The chicken on top is grilled and tossed in cayenne pepper sauce not unlike Frank’s. Taken together, everything worked just fine!
Since that first visit, we’ve gone back for the meat lovers pie (pepperoni, local-made sausage, bacon), the chicken parmigiana pie (crispy Parmesan chicken, mozzarella, and Parmesan), and we had another pizza of theirs that had ricotta on top. That one was a real treat; they use a really flavorful and low moisture ricotta.
I’ve also gone back for a chicken parm sub, and was surprised to see they make their own roll! I should have known.