Mr. Pizza has been around since 1963 and the place looks like it hasn't been updated since then. They did add on to the back section of the building a few years ago because it was always packed and they needed more seating. The main dining room has about 12 booths and 8 tables, everything is pretty tired. But these are usually the places that have the best food.
The waitress came over to me and I said, "The guy next door says you have the best pizza in Rochester."
She sort of recoiled and said, "Well, a lot of people think that. I think it's pretty good. We've gotten voted the best pizza by Rochester magazine for a number of years."
Mr. Pizza has four different types of pizza dough - thin, whole wheat, double tossed and deep pan. They have a number of signature pizzas and I asked the waitress what their most popular one was. Without hesitating she said, "The Mr. Pizza Special." It had Italian sausage, ground beef, pepperoni, mushrooms and onions. I like onions on pizza, but they don't like me. She said, "Well, we can take leave them off, it's not problem."
I said, "What the hell? If it's your main signature pizza, let's give it a shot." I ordered a small thin crust (10"). They also have 12", 14" and 16" sizes.
They had four different types of beer on tap and she served me a cold Budweiser in a frosted glass while I waited. The place wasn't very busy - it was about 8:30 on a cold weekday evening when I was in there. Still, it was comfortable in the restaurant.
My waitress brought out my pizza and my eyes almost popped out of my head - it was the "perfect pizza".
A perfect pizza, in my book, is a thin crust that had cheese and toppings piled at least an inch above the crust. Seriously, there were parts where the Mr. Pizza Special was reaching TWO inches above the crust. It was unbelievable. It was cut into nine pieces with the holy grail square middle piece staring at me, loaded with toppings.
But the perfect pizza also has to taste good. I tried the first piece and sort of savored it for a minute. The sauce was tangy, not sweet. Kind of a smoky flavor, really.
I had trouble distinguishing the ground beef and the Italian sausage as I thought the sausage could have had a little more pizazz to it. And they were using canned mushrooms - not quite the perfect pizza topping to me.
But the bottom line was that it was very good - not great - but very good. The toppings were, literally, over the top.
The waitress came out and asked me when I had about 4 pieces left if I wanted a box. I told her I was still working on it, but I wish I would have taken her up on her offer. It was too much, even for a small. I tried to finish the whole thing, but couldn't.
She brought my bill and asked, "So, what did you think?"
I said, "Well, it was good. A nice surprise. I love the way you guys load the toppings on it. But I shouldn't have gotten the onions on it. They're already talking back to me."
When I paid my bill ($21 with two 16 oz beers and tip), I got to talking to the waitress. She said they grind their own sausage and beef. I told her that I had trouble distinguishing the sausage and the beef and she said they season their beef with some the same ingredients they season their sausage with. I actually thought both were sort of bland, until I put some hot red peppers on the pizza.
She told me they were in the process of building a new Mr. Pizza on the north side of Rochester. I asked her if the oven at this location was the original oven from 1963 and she said, "As far as I know, everything in the kitchen with the exception of a couple of the coolers is original."
I said, "Your new location won't be as good as this one for 40 years." I swear - it's the oven that makes pizza places like this.
I told her I should have opted for my old stand-by - sausage, pepperoni and mushroom. She said, "You can have that when you come back next time."
And I will be back to try that. Not quite the perfect pizza, but it's pretty close.