First, gentle readers, I have a confession to make. In this age of gluten-free, low-carb diets, I am a breadaholic. I love it in a basket, cradling sandwich fillings, acting as a platform for pizza toppings, whatever.
The day I discovered Pizza Plant even puts its salads in a bread bowl, was love at first bite. Fellow carb-lovers, rejoice: The new Pizza Plant at Canalside has these, its famous pods, stuffed pizza and much more, now more convenient for downtown and Southtown residents.
On a recent, very windy visit, we started out with a Greek bread bowl salad ($10.79), a shareable helping of mostly iceberg lettuce with tomato chunks, red onion, pepperoncini, Greek and sliced black olives, crumbled feta cheese and Greek dressing all nestled in what looks and tastes like a pizza crust shaped like a bowl.
Well, the tomatoes are noticeably out of season, the olives a bit scarce and the feta crumbles a lot finer than some of the many better Greek salad purveyors in the city, but that bread. That bread soaks up just enough of the dressing but stays crispy all the way to the bottom. Pizza Plant will see your grilled pita and raise you one bowl o’ bread.
Next, we tried a “Stinger Pod,” ($12.89) named after that great late-night Buffalo staple sandwich, with shredded steak, green peppers and onions, diced chicken fingers and provolone cheese. One diner remarked some bleu cheese would have significantly improved this pod and the Plant seems to agree; the menu listed it as an ingredient, but it never made it inside. We dipped our pod pieces in the side of red sauce and it came out fine.
The pod was crisp on the outside, tender inside, if the bread-to-filling ratio was too skewed in the bread’s favor to please less dedicated wheat fans. The steak was cooked to crumbling, chicken under-sauced and the peppers a bit scarce, but the flavors were fine. Next time, leave this one in a few minutes fewer and spend those minutes on the cheese, please.
A baby-sized “Syracuse Spectacular” stuffed pizza ($11.79) followed, Pizza Plant’s signature take on the famous Chicago-style pizza. The Syracuse is named after owner and Wolf Blitzer dead-ringer Bob Syracuse and featured Italian sausage, sweet onions and fresh mushrooms, plus a choice of sweet or hot peppers.
On the advice of our waitress, we opted for both types of peppers, and the blend lent a punch of spice that beautifully balanced out the sweet sauce. I don’t know what they feed babies in the Syracuse family, but this sucker was huge; one piece was more than plenty for each diner and that was pre-Pod.
The stuffed pizza consists of a bottom crust, filling, top crust and more sauce on top of that, which makes for a very damp presentation. The sausage was well-seasoned, peppers burst out of all sides and mushrooms did seem fresh, but the whole crew floundered a little in all that marinara.
We topped off our expedition with a bread pudding ($6.89), because my blood sugar hadn’t hit critical mass just yet. Pizza Plant’s is warm, rich and teeth-achingly sweet, doused with whiskey sauce topped with raisins and fluffy clouds of whipped cream.
It’s fantastic, but eat slowly, or you’ll be tempted to send your dentist bills care of Mr. Syracuse.
The Pizza Plant has been a Western New York institution for 36 years, with enough bread-flanked delicacies to delight any dough-head. Once this Canalside location gets over a few cooking-related growing pains, it should make for an after-skating destination and downtown lunch spot alike.
Info: Pizza Plant; 125 Main St., 626-5566
Lizz Schumer is the content manager for Resurgence Brewing Company and covers food, drink and whimsy for a variety of publications. She is the author of “Buffalo Steel” and can be found online at lizzschumer.com, facebook.com/authorlizzschumer and @eschumer.