Rooster's : Brick Oven Pizza in Augusta, ME
First: I'm wondering if they should consider a name change. Driving past one assumes it's a Wing/Beer/Football joint, or perhaps a southern-style fried chicken place or something. Never in my life would I have imagined Coal Fired pizzas. When I finally found out WHAT it was, I became excited to try it...being a native New Jerseyan and fan of New Yorks' classic coal oven places.
Cons: This place has just about the worst atmosphere ever for a place that actually aspires to legit pizza-dom. Think California Pizza Kitchen crossed with TGI Fridays. Just pure chain restaurant from top to bottom. Staff is friendly though.
Pros: The pizza is actually good, although some things need work. The crust texture is great, with the classic spots of char you'd expect from a coal burner, and that almost physically impossible pliable crispness you' always hope for from a nice hot oven. Not much in the way of tip sag. Not too thick, not too thin. I'd say it compares favorably on crust texture to places like Grimaldis, Totonnos, or Lombardis. In fact, this is better crust than I had at my last (abysmal) trip to Patsy's in East Harlem. So thumbs up there.
That being said, the flavor is not all there. Everything, from the crust, to the sauce, to the cheese, just tasted underseasoned. I had a straightforward pie with just tomato, fresh mozzarella (a request for basil produced some confusion from the local yokel staff, even though they have it on some of their specialty pizzas), and despite the nice texture, it was pretty bland. I actually salted it, which improved things noticeably. Also, the fresh mozzarella was just not good. I would stick to the straightforward shredded mozz, because what I got on my pizza was nothing like the heavenly little circles of creaminess that usually characterizes fresh mozzarella. The proportion of cheese to sauce to crust was also out of balance...just way too much cheese.
There is definitely enough good going on to warrant a second trip. Honestly, the pizza in Maine outside of a couple places in Portland is so ungoldy awful that this could amount to a godsend.
Wow- I work in Augusta, in that area all the time, and totally assumed that it was a beer/wing joint. Glad to hear it's coal-fired pizza, but sad to hear the negative reviews more recently. Perhaps I'll give it a try and report back... Though I'd just as soon spend my money at Bay Wrap if I think it's going to be a lousy lunch. I'll check back in if I make it over there.
This is a former Ground Round and they haven't done much w/interior.
Completely agree on your assessment of the pizza: surprisingly good crust, unsurprisingly bland cheese/sauce.
Good lunch special w/ small pie, salad, and soft beverage for $10. Looks like good beer selection.
Also new place in Hallowell...Kennebec Pizza Co. Aspires to authentic NY style. On my only visit I found toppings of high quality, crust unfortunately undercooked. Expensive. Will try again though.
Bumping this thread because I recently returned to Rooster's and it was pretty bad. Doughy, thick, underdone crust...maybe they got complaints from the rubes who wanted pizza that tasted more like the crap you get at Amato's or the Irving station? Anyway, why bother having a coal oven if you have no idea how to use it? Frankly, I sort of doubt they are really even using a coal oven. It sure didn't taste like it, and the obviously machine stretched dough certainly didn't add to the authenticity of the experience.
Big time fail for me.