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.
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 center 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.
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.