“Let me know when you’re saucing them…” I told the men behind the pizza counter at Rubirosa, trying to catch the pizza makers in action.
“Ah, it’s a blogger!” said one of the servers who passed behind me to avoid blurring my pictures. It quickly became clear the staff was very used to having their pizza critiqued as its reputation boasts of supremacy and long standing Italian tradition.
Last week, Cassie and I headed to Rubirosa– located on Mulberry St. near Manhattan’s Little Italy and instantly felt at home. The decor is reminiscent of a country cottage with floral wall prints, tin paneling and mellow soft rock playing in the background. A long wooden bar makes locals feel welcome to belly up with a beer and a pizza. Slices are only served during lunch hour, but the pies come in small and large, with 6 slices or 8 slices, depending on your hunger level. Cassie and I made the mistake of underestimating ours. We ordered a salad to share and a small classic pie– a recipe that dates back 50 years. We each devoured three slices of the pizza but were hungry for more. The crust was incredibly thin, the cheese plenty and the sauce a semi-sweet crushed tomato.
For a classic pie it was good, but it admittedly could have been better. The crust was not particularly flavorful and it was almost too thin. I enjoyed the crispness, but the final bite left a somewhat unpleasant after taste in my mouth as if it was slightly burnt. I miss the flavor of the smoky, charred crust resulting from a brick or coal oven. Perhaps my expectations were too high or maybe our pizza selection was not the best. The server bragged on the vodka pizza, which according to Rubirosa’s twitter mentions is one of their fan favorites. I’ll have to go back to sample. The Italian dishes also looked fantastic and worthy of a return trip.
Angelo Pappalardo, the son of the man behind Staten Island’s famous Joe and Pat’s, was inspired to start his own pizzeria and hints of the familial tradition complete a visit to Rubirosa. A postcard with Joe and Pat was given to us with our bill and one server even pointed out Joe and Pat’s father (or grandfather?…) was on the to-go boxes.
Rubirosa is no secret to New Yorkers– in fact their slices were even rated the best in New York by New York magazine in 2011. But if three slices weren’t enough to satisfy me and Cassie’s hunger– I suggest you get a full pie.
Cassie and I simply compensated for this with ice cream which we consumed while watching previews for Woody Allen’s new film, Midnight in Paris — concluding another perfect “pizza date.”