Caroline Lee/For The Daily Gazette
Uncle Rico’s, in the ShopRite Square shopping center, treats its pizza seriously, made with homemade sauce and dough, and beautiful creamy mozzarella cheese. It could also be your favorite place for wings.
My friend Sheryl hadn’t had pizza in a while, and was happy to end the drought at Uncle Rico’s. We went for a late-afternoon lunch recently.
Uncle Rico’s open dining room is the whole place, plate-glass windows at the sidewalk, counter opposite. There are just a few tables. Order at the counter, grab a drink from the cooler (diet Dr Pepper, thank you very much) and that’s pretty much it. Aside from needing a quick wipe-down, the tables were mostly clean. I really liked the napkin dispensers on the tables; I use a ton of napkins.
The menu is what you’d expect: Uncle Rico’s has appetizers like mac and cheese bites ($5.99), mozzarella sticks ($5.99), even a chicken quesadilla ($7.99). A large (14-inch) cheese pizza is $10.99, toppings are extra. Monday through Wednesday, you can get two medium cheese pizzas for $5.99 each, carryout only. I like that you can get a smaller order of wings — you don’t always want a dozen. Chicken Parmesan ($9.99) comes with penne pasta and bread.
My friend Sheryl’s slices ($2.28 plus tax each) were ready in just a few minutes, and we shared them while we waited for the rest of the food, trying the Buffalo chicken first. Pieces of breaded, seasoned chicken topped a regular slice of cheese pizza with red sauce. The flavor and heat of the hot sauce was surprisingly fiery, but not unpleasant. And though I expected the sauces to clash, they actually got along OK.
“We ate the wrong slice first,” Sheryl noted after we’d tried the second slice, mild white broccoli pizza with ricotta cheese. “The Buffalo chicken had tons of flavor,” she said. The white pizza didn’t stand a chance after that. It was pleasant — with some garlic, olive oil and oregano — but subtle.
A word about the crust: It was browned just right on the bottom, more crisp than chewy, and more airy than heavy. Very nice.
A worker brought the wings ($6.99 for seven) to our table, hot and crispy from the fryer and glistening with sauce. These are jumbo-sized wings and they were delicious, really juicy inside. The medium hot sauce made my eyes water, in a good way, and they had just enough of a kick. “Good,” Sheryl agreed, wiping her fingers.
The texture of the skin is very important to me; along with moist, steaming meat and the hot bite of great sauce, crisp skin is, so to speak, the icing on the cake. I was dismayed to see these hot wings hustled into a box where the steam started softening them up. I rescued them in time, but I’d say they are best enjoyed there, or at least air-cooled.
Everyone has their favorite wings, and though these wings were a little too big for my taste, with a large meat-to-skin ratio, they were crispy enough and tasty enough to be someone’s favorite.
We shared the chicken Parm sub ($9.99), too. You’d have to have a hearty appetite to finish the 12-inch sub. It’s loaded with breaded, fried chicken pieces that look like tenders. Awesomely, they kept their crunch for a satisfactory period of time. The creamy mozzarella was extra-melty and looked very appealing. The tasty roll, with cornmeal on the bottom, soaked up some sauce and held together well. The chicken pieces are fat, moist and tender.
We finished exactly one-quarter of the sub and I had enough wings left for lunch the next day.
Desserts are available but they weren’t visibly displayed, so we forgot to order them.
The menu features bananas foster cheesecake or double brownie bites, and fried Twinkies, which I might have tried but I guess I’m glad I didn’t.
The tab for our meal, with two drinks, came to $25.29. I put a few bucks in the tip can.
So whether you eat pizza all the time, or it’s been a while since you’ve had any, you won’t be disappointed with Uncle Rico’s. And don’t forget to try the wings.
Uncle Rico’s Pizza
WHERE: 2309 Nott St. East (ShopRite Square), Suite 311, Nisakayuna, 518-280-9544, unclericospizza.com
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
HOW MUCH: $25.29 with tax and two drinks
MORE INFO: Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Wheelchair accessible. Lots of parking in lot. Free delivery.