Bacchus

Not enough credit is given to the artist who actually created that giant clay face.
Sculpted in 2008 by Brian McCandless, Artist, Physician, North Troy real estate developer..

Bacchus Wood-Fired Pizza, Troy, NY

I want to love you. I really do.
I just can’t find the spark.

I come back every few years, with a hopeful, open mind.
Hoping to fall in love, hoping to find greatness.
But the passion just isn’t there.

Maybe its just my atrocious long-term memory, maybe it’s my stubborn nature.
In any case, every few years, I find myself repeating this somewhat disappointing discovery.

So here I was, yet again, venturing down those sidewalk steps, hoping for something; something I never quite find.

I can’t quite figure Bacchus out.
They’re in what should be a perfect location, in the heart of the Troy Renaissance,
directly across the street from the Troy Music Hall.
They were one of the first to embrace the very popular “Troy-aesthetic”;
you know.. try hard, to look like you didn’t try too hard… that industrial, raw feel – exposed brick, rough-cut wood, low lighting.

But most importantly, they have a one-of-a-kind, truly impressive wood-fired oven.
The oven is (literally) faced with a giant, custom, clay sculpture, presumably Bacchus the Greek God himself..
His mouth wide-open to a fantastic wood fire.

But Bacchus is not on everyone’s tongue.
I find it surprising that it can exist so quietly, immune to the current Troy-hype.
I think for many people it falls in the category of “I was there awhile ago, never had an urge to go back, don’t remember why“.

Before you get too defensive..
I’m sure they have their repeat customers, and a very strong fan-base.
I just don’t think they’re talked about that much.

I’m very intrigued by Bacchus because on the surface it’s the kind of place I think Troy needs.
It’s the kind of place I expect Troy to embrace and cherish.
Hip location, hip decor, great oven.

But why aren’t they killing it?

I don’t think I’m alone in my Bacchus-ambivalence.

The gist of the issue may of course lie in the pizza itself.
Bacchus is putting out a Neapolitan-style crust.
I’m not sure the area is ready to accept a Neapolitan-style pie.
(Unfortunately, I also think Bacchus suffers with inconsistency.)

Neapolitan-style pie is ideally a wonderfully light, soft, airy crust with tasty, crunchy bubbles, and fantastic flavor.
They should be eaten HOT, right out of the oven – in-situ.
Always from a wood fired oven, imparting just enough some smokey, flavorful char.

BE AWARE….
This is NOT the crispy, thin crust we get from our local Friday-night-pizza-joint.
This is NOT the crispy style crust they’re perfecting in Troy’s other wood-fired oven.

A Neapolitan pie is a special thing.
If done properly it is something you will remember fondly, and repeat often.
If not executed correctly it can be a disappointment.
If not done correctly the crust can be too soft, under-cooked, or over loaded with toppings, resulting in a wet, soggy center-crust.

Bacchus has a pretty good dough, I just don’t think they’re consistently assembling and baking their pies.

Over the past few weeks I made three visits, each a different day of the week, at a different time of day.
Each time my pie was made by a different person.
I ordered a few pies directly from the menu, and gave “custom” topping instructions for a third.
Some parts, of some of the pies were pretty darn good, some were not.
For a few bites I found those wonderful tasty, crispy bubbles of crust.
Almost consistently, the center of pie was a bit under-done, limp, and wet.
But, their dough has good flavor, and a very nice, light texture.
These should be fantastic pies.

i just think a little more care needs to be taken in the oven.
But, I’m very hesitant to give specific baking instructions with my order;
I want to see some char, I don’t want a wet centerĀ of pie,
bake it in the hottest part of the deck, lift the pie towards the dome for a few seconds before you remove it…

I feel a true pizzaiolo should know their oven and their dough and should be giving me their best pie, every time.

“Basic Pizza” – “cubed mozzarella, red sauce”
Bacchus wood-fired pizza Troy, NY
“Pizza Margherita”
red sauce- “a small amount of fresh mozz.”


Bacchus you have all the right pieces.
A fantastic place, a magical oven, a cool vibe.
Wonderful dough, great toppings.

I have high expectations, but I know you can do it.
I remain ever-hopeful.
I imagine I’ll see you again soon.

If you’ve never been, you should give Bacchus a try.
Maybe you’ll find the spark.
Or at least you too will be able to say “you’ve been there”

Go find the spark, eat some pizza.
-OCtG

7 Comments

  1. -R.
    April 6, 2017

    You nailed it perfectly: inconsistency is the Achilles heel of Bacchus, and the reason I don’t go. It all looks perfect on paper, but they nearly always fall a bit short. I hate to admit it, but I Love on 4th puts out a more consistent pie.

    Reply
    1. octg
      April 7, 2017

      I have to admit, I haven’t been to “I Love” in a long, long time.
      I remember it as a decent “late night” slice place.
      Its certainly on my list.

      Reply
  2. Steve N.
    April 13, 2017

    I enjoyed reading this.

    I agree with you about Bacchus; the pizza is good, but it *should* be great. It’s too bad because they have so much unfulfilled potential.

    I disagree that Albany is not ready for a real Neapolitan pizzeria. If one were to open in the right location, with the right people running it, making great Neapolitan pies, it would do well. That Albany in 2017 still doesn’t have a proper Neapolitan pizza joint is a shame.

    Have you tried the pizza at Restaurant Navona? It’s the closest we have to Neapolitan style pizza, and it’s great. If you haven’t tried it, please do. I’d be happy to join you for a pizza there.

    Also, I recently came away impressed with the pizza at Druthers Albany location. It’s a NY/Neapolitan hybrid, cooked in a wood oven and it’s quite good. The two pies I had on two different visits had a smattering of charred bubbles on the end crust. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is.

    Reply
    1. octg
      April 13, 2017

      Steve:
      I was hoping you’d comment; based on what I’ve read on your blog and Yelp, I consider you our local Neapolitan-aficionado.

      I suppose I agree that if we had a killer Neapolitan place, in the right location, it would probably do well.

      I feel Neapolitan pizza is fairly unforgiving, it’s either exceptional (Volturno), or BAD. There is no mediocre Neapolitan.

      I do however believe the majority of people have certain expectations for pizza.I remember a story Daniel told on his “FussylittleBlog” about Paesan’s needing to normalize their pizza for overall acceptance- (literally popping bubbles).
      Granted that was a while ago, I hope we’ve all grown since then.

      I’m certainly very impressed, and encouraged by the magnitude of “pizza awareness” I’m seeing lately. (Hell, even I started a “pizza-blog”)
      This awareness and discussion can only help the growth and evolution towards a superior product…Neapolitan and otherwise.

      So many new places, so many new ovens, and new pizza styles- it’s all wonderful.
      I have not yet tried Navona, or Druthers. They’re on my long list.

      Hopefully we can share a few pies together soon.
      -OCtG

      Reply
  3. Katie Wilson
    June 1, 2017

    I very much enjoy reading your blog! I wholeheartedly agree about Bacchus (Disappointingly inconsistent, and especially with Brian McCandless’ spectacular oven) and Restaurant Navona – some of the best pizza around and other delicious menu items as well. No one ever talks about the wood fired pizza from the bar menu at La Perla which is the restaurant at the Gregory House bed and breakfast in Averill Park. How can this lovely place, run by such a nice family, be such a little known secret? This is my other go to place for what I consider to be pretty darn great pizza. Walking from the parking lot sets the tone as one crosses a bridge over the little brook running through the back yard, and then, during the growing season, one passes by a garden before entering the restaurant. Top it all off by dining in the bar/tap room where I always feel as if I have been whisked away to an old Adirondack great camp. La Perla is a feast for the eyes, mouth and soul!

    Reply
    1. octg
      June 8, 2017

      I’ve never been to LaPerla. I’ve been to the Gregory House YEARS ago, I’m pretty sure the restaurant was called “The Gregory House”. I remember it as a pretty neat little place. One of our secret treasures, tucked away in Rensselaer County.
      Sounds like I need to make a trip.
      Thanks for the comment, and the recommendation.
      _OCtG

      Reply
      1. Katie Wilson
        June 19, 2017

        I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, and I look forward to hearing what you think.

        Reply

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