Aniello’s Pizzeria, Corning, New York
I’ve got a soft spot for Aniello’s pizza. I’ve been going there since I was a small child, first at its original location on Market Street in upstate Corning, and more recently its new location a bit farther down the historic street. Aniello’s is the first pizzeria I remember.
It doesn’t look remarkable from the outside. I’m not a fan of the new signage, but as I can’t remember the old sign I really shouldn’t complain. This end of Market Street is fairly dead, so parking is usually no bother.
Inside, it’s your standard pizza ovens, workers dashing back and forth between making slices and checking on the pies in the oven.
Slices start at a whopping $2.00, and each topping will set you back an extra… quarter. Yes, twenty-five cents. If you’re here with someone else, though, you’ll likely split a pie, and the whole pizzas are really inexpensive, too. I decided (for the blog, of course) to get three slices, just to have a nice range of flavors.
You can get a soda or beer from the counter, but I always go to the nifty bottle-dispensing vending machine — there’s an electromechanical arm that moves in two dimensions to the location you choose, grabs the bottle, and sends it over to the bottom right for you to pick up. It’s just so Rube Goldbergian that I can’t not do it.
Of course, the star of the show is the pizza. Standard neapolitan slices for me, as always: sausage, artichoke, and a white slice. Each is an eighth of a large pie, but a large is (at least) 16″ in diameter, so it’s a fair price.
The upskirt isn’t terribly remarkable on this slice, but the proof is in the taste, where this excelled. I’ve always liked their sausage pizza, and this day was no exception. A good quantity of very thinly-sliced sausage is appied and heated for several minutes; one has to be careful biting into a slice too quickly, as the cheese approximates napalm for longer than one might expect.
The meat is peppered liberally and captures all the flavor I desire in Italian sausage. All too often, however, the dough develops a weird quirk, and the slice fails. Here, there’s a noticeable ridge on the underside so the slice wants to fold near the crust — see the upskirt photo — which means it’s a two-handed job to rip off those first few bites before pie stabilization can occur. It’s wonderfully greasy, but not so much that you seriously have to dab it away with a pile of pizzeria napkins.
Next up, the artichoke slice. Normally I’d get roasted red peppers on this too, but I was feeling a little more pure. The artichokes are fairly light on flavor, so I got a better feel for the slightly-garlicky, tangy sauce on this slice. The upskirt shot reveals another middle-of-the-road doneness, but as with the sausage slice, the proof lies in the crack of the crust as I bite through it, airy and loaded with classic pizza dough flavor.
A side shot reveals that airy, pocketed edge crust, leading to a crisp, thin crust that soaks up grease yet retains its structural integrity (when there’s no ridge through it).
Finally, the white pie, in all its garlic-soaked, mozzarella-strewn goodness. Aniello’s doesn’t do the ricotta-mozzarella combo on the white pizza, preferring instead to do something akin to buttering the dough and piling on the mozz. It’s an exercise in greasy garlic inhalation, to be sure. This crust seemed a bit thicker throughout than the red sauce-based slices, without such a pronounced bump on the edge, but it worked well to keep the slice rigid in the face of such weight.
Three slices and a soda for eight dollars? Worth every penny and then some! Service, at least to me, was pleasant and courteous. They’ll bring your pizza to you wherever you manage to find a seat, and while they don’t exactly make pleasant conversation at the counter, they don’t insult you either, which is all I really count on anyway. If you also manage to indulge in the meatballs, or a hero, or just way too much pizza, you have all of Market Street to window-shop while you digest. If you’re feeling adventurous, the more-interesting-than-it-sounds Museum of Glass is a reasonable walk or a very short drive away, or you could indulge in a good beer or two at the Market Street Brewing Company brewpub down the street.
Yes, my word is biased about who in that area of the state makes the best pizza. Some say Aniello’s isn’t even the best pizza in Corning any more. But that’s the beauty of staple Americanized fast-food choices: everyone has their favorite hamburger joint, taco stand, or pizzeria, and nothing you say will persuade them otherwise. I encourage you to make the short detour off NY-17/I-86 to try Aniello’s for yourself. Tell me if they don’t do an excellent job of recreating New York pizza for the Southern Tier.