Sunday, February 28, 2010

General Hoock & Sons All American Pizzeria & Breakfast

General Hoock & Son All-American Pizzeria & Breakfast on Urbanspoon

1308 Buffalo Road, Gates
Written by Tyler

As soon as I saw an article about this place in the Democrat & Chronicle, I knew we had to make the trip. I did my research (reading reviews) and didn’t read a bad word about it. As soon as I had a free weekend home, we made it happen.
To sum things up, we were back again one week later.

The first trip, we went around noon on a Saturday, on our way to a hockey game at Genesee Valley Park. There were only a small handful of other customers there at the time, so we ordered right away. There is a rather extensive menu, but your options go beyond what owner Shawn Hoock has written on the dry-erase boards.

We’ll start with the pizza, or as Hoock calls it, "magik bread pie.” The pizza ranges from the nine-inch small to the “holy sheet” for $16.50. A small costs just $4.50, with $1 toppings, though mozzarella is considered a topping (“don’t make it any more trivial than it is,” as one of the dry-erase boards says). Hoock offers approximately 30 toppings, but would probably throw anything you want in to your pizza.

On our first trip we tried a small pizza, which was quite larger than we expected, with grilled chicken (My personal favorite).

It came out very hot, but looked so tasty we had to dive in right away. The sauce was slightly darker than normal, and had a little thicker consistency than most other sauces, but had just the right amount on the pie.

There was a pretty healthy amount of cheese, and several relatively large chunks of chicken. The crust was about average in terms of thickness, and fairly crisp, golden brown all around, and a little, as Drew says, “scaly” on the bottom. All together, we were very pleased with the quality, taste and value of our pizza, which we agreed might be enough to feed up to two people, depending how full you are. (Note: we had eaten one giant pancake, and half of a large turkey sub, respectively, just prior to eating the pizza). The only thing I regret is not letting my slices cool down more before eating, because they were fresh out of the oven.

On our return trip the following Saturday, we brought a couple others with us, including one who got a small pizza with one of the more interesting toppings, “lil’ dough stix.” The stix were simply cut up strips of the homemade dough, thrown on top of the cheese. Despite the simplicity of the stix, they appeared very appetizing on the pizza, especially if you are someone like me, who likes an abundance of dough.

Moving on from pizza, the breakfast menu is also quite extensive, not to mention mouthwatering.

Hoock offers traditional breakfast fare – home fries, bacon, sausage, eggs, cheese, etc. – which you can order thrown together in any combination, basically, including one item which is essentially a breakfast garbage plate.

On our return trip, our friend Joe decided to take down “The Fist,” which included a giant sausage patty, two eggs any style (he ordered fried) and cheese on one of the most delicious-looking rolls I have ever seen.

The roll looked about the same texture as a bagel, though larger, doughier and without the hole in the center. It had a fairly light color, appearing to have the perfect amount of doughiness.
Joe said all three main ingredients in the “meat” of the sandwich complemented each other nicely; the sausage flavorful, the eggs cooked perfectly (not runny), and the cheese melted in with the rest to perfection.

Upon pounding the fist, Joe said it was the best breakfast sandwich he has ever had in his life. My brother, Jake, said the sausage had a lot of flavor.

On both trips, I started with a “killer griddle cake” for $2.50, and well worth it. The giant pancake took up most of the space on the relatively large plate, had the perfect amount of browning, and just enough crispiness along the outer rim. I generally don’t butter my pancakes, and don’t overload them with syrup (though I put some on), and these were some of the best pancakes I have tasted. One of these killers is filling enough for me.

We also sampled the chicken wings, served with celery and bleu cheese, offered medium, mild, hot, bossy, homemade “Stiggy” sauce or a homemade sweet and sour.

Drew went with a six-piece sweet and sour on our return trip, which were quite large and came out steaming. The homemade sauce, which Hoock said included Country Sweet, Boss Sauce and a couple other ingredients, was excellent.

“They were meaty, moist and melted in my mouth,” Drew said. “It was good-quality meat too, not generic over-the-counter stuff.”

Drew also tried a turkey sub, with American cheese and mayonnaise, on our first trip. He ordered a large sub for about $8, which he claims was at least 15 inches long. It included fourteen half-slices of cheese and “piles” of turkey.

“It was like Thanksgiving-leftover amount of turkey,” Drew said.

The turkey was very thick, more like that of a holiday turkey than typical cold-cut turkey. The bread appeared homemade, and was fairly standard, but Drew says the sub was above average, and worth spending the extra money on, as compared to Subway.

One item we haven’t tried yet is the “Raging Bull” bomber. It is pictured in the D&C article and we saw two people order it on our second visit. It looked like it might result in one’s stomach exploding after eating it, but boy did that look delicious. It had (in no particular order) hamburger, steak, jalapenos, cheddar cheese, onion rings and the homemade “Stiggy” sauce. We agreed someone will try that next time.

I wish we had enough time – or appetites – to try everything at General Hoock’s, although I guess there really is no end to the options you have, as you can pretty much order any combination of anything available in the restaurant, whether it’s on the menu or not.
As mentioned earlier, Hoock is a sole-proprietor, meaning he does it all at the restaurant, including making everything from scratch.

If there are more than a handful of customers, things can get backed up. However, ourselves included, most customers look right past that. To occupy customers’ time, Hoock invites them to make themselves “at home,” with two TVs, newspapers and a steady supply of random memorabilia.

If any deliveries need to be made, Hoock briefly closes up shop to make them. There is limited seating, including a few barstools, but Hoock himself has a very inviting presence.
Once you try the food however, you, like us, will be able to look right past some of the things that might be negatives elsewhere.

The “bang for the buck” at General Hoock’s has made us give it a grade of ‘A,’ despite some things, like the wait, that would severely detract from a typical restaurant.
With that said, General Hoock’s is not your typical restaurant, and is a great value, which is why it has now become our go-to place in Gates.

Service/Atmosphere – Easy to find (on a major road). Hoock is very welcoming and flexible. Very admirable, considering he does literally everything that needs to be done to properly manage a restaurant. For this reason the extended wait time for typical orders can be overlooked. Not to mention the…
Food – Excellent, as stated in the review.
Value – Pretty standard prices, but the “bang for the buck” is terrific (quality and quantity). Large portions, but not at the expense of quality.
Overall- Considering we made our return trip one week after our first, I’d say this is some place we plan to make a regular stop. We would probably go out of our way to pig out here.
Grade: A


  1. Great review fellas. I cannot wait to go and check this place out. Look forward to your next review!!

  2. the pizza was delicious,everyone needs to try it

  3. Joseph ScottMarch 01, 2010

    Great stuff boys...lookin forward to the next review

  4. Walking into this place for the first time was a bit overwhelming and I didn't know what to order. The choices are endless on the whiteboards. I decided on "the van" and it didn't disappoint. 3 eggs, homemade sausage patty, 3 slices of bacon and toast! Oh my! The toast was on homemade bread and the best I've ever had. Sausage was homemade as well and just perfect. It was way too much for me to eat in one sitting, but the leftovers were finished off later in the day. I can't wait to go back and my mouth waters for the raging bull. Thanks for suggesting this place!
    Mrs. G.

  5. I am a regular customer here. All the food is homemade and will never leave a person hungry. There can be a wait but it is worth it when you know everything is fresh and tastes so great! I dont like to go anywhere else for brekfast because it doesnt compare. Dont be afraid to order something not on the menu because Hook will wip anything up for his customers. Give this place a try, and I promise you'll be back :)


  6. No mention of the Curly Fry Bomber !?

  7. Sounds great! Next time I'm in that neighborhood I'll have to check it out.

  8. Well, it seems nice to hear that we can order what's not on the menu. So, one can ask for special pizza with their own recipe? I mean, in case one wants extra hot pizza or something like that.

  9. Absolutely. He'll make whatever you want. He would run to the grocery to buy extra ingredients for a customer if necessary.

  10. Sounds great! I cannot wait to go and check this place out. I think the pizza was delicious, everyone needs to try it. 3 eggs, homemade sausage patty, 3 slices of bacon and toast! I've really can not wait to taste it. And by the way, thanks for sharing this information.

  11. Fan freaking Tastic little pizza joint! Food is creative, great portions for your buck, General Hoock is a good dude, makes your pie the way you wish and is a sports themed Pizzeria. And the sammies look amazing too!

  12. Wow, your review makes me want to go there and try out the food, especially the "magik bread pie". I like the fact that the owner will even go the extra miles for customers. That is really hard to find nowadays. I am feeling so hungry now :-)