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Only Half the Pizzas Sport Red Tomatoes at Rossopomodoro in the West Village

Critic Robert Sietsema offers his first impressions of the new Eataly offshoot.


Those who knew the premises as the laid-back Café de Bruxelles — famous for its perfect fries served in a cone of filter paper — or the later incarnations Lyon Bouchon Moderne and then Cole's will be astonished. What had been a cramped, serpentine space is now opened up and airy, thanks partly to the annexation of an additional storefront around the corner on 13th Street, which contains a trestle table fit for a large crowd, and the gleaming, gold-tiled beehive oven that is the garish centerpiece of the restaurant's décor. But the famous barroom shaped like a slice of pizza looking out on Greenwich Avenue remains about the same.

rossopomodoro

[Rossopomodoro interior; all photos by Robert Sietsema.]

Rossopomodoro is an offshoot of the pizza concession at Eataly. As with its parent, the pizzas — which are quite good — emerge from the oven in the currently popular Neapolitan style. The pies are small and the crust is glove-soft, and some of the combinations have a soupy demeanor that will force you to eat with a knife and fork. Certainly, the margherita ($15) is perfect of its type, with just enough basil and just enough creamy mozzarella. For $4 extra, you can get a version made with buffalo mozzarella, but why bother?

Rossopomodoro Oven

[Rossopomodor's oven.]

The pizzas are divided into two coequal categories; five have tomato sauce and five don't. Some of the combinations are head-scratchingly odd, like the one with guanciale, crème fraiche, and the torn-off leaves of perhaps a single small brussels sprout. This is one of the soupy ones, and eating it is a bit frustrating as the crème fraiche dribbles onto your plate from every forkful. The broccoletta ($18), as the Brussels sprouts pie is called, is not a bad combination of toppings, but you'll wish potato had been substituted for the vegetable as in Marta's wildly popular carbonara. The third pie a friend and I tried was salcicciotta ($17), which had crumbled sausage, mozzarella, and mushrooms — this one fared better, and was utterly enjoyable, perfect when eaten at the bar with a glass of perdera ($11), a bright and light red varietal from Sardinia.

Rossopomodoro Pie 1
Rossompomodoro 3
Rossopomodoro Pie 2

[Clockwise from the top: margherita, salcicciotta, and broccoletta pies.]

Even better than the pizzas were the pastas, including cheese-filled agnolotti ($18) - sheep-shaped miniature raviolis swamped in sage and butter. As with the pizzas, the pastas sometimes display strange combinations. We ordered the calamarata (thick short grooved rings, $17), which contained baby mussels, guanciale, and pecorino cheese, the sauce thickened with potatoes. Genius! Apps and salads were more of a mixed bag. Two to a plate, one conical and the other globular, the rice balls (arancini, $9) were brilliant, while the vegetables roasted in the golden oven (verdure al forno, $10) proved listless and unattractive on the plate. That dish should have been a powerhouse. (By the way, Rossopomodoro, why no English translations for many of the Italian dishes? It tends to confer annoyance more than atmosphere.)

Rossopomodoro Agnolotti
Rossopomodoro Verdure
Rossopomodoro
Arancini

[Clockwise from the top left: agnolotti, verdure, arancini, and calamarata.]

The wine list is lengthy, pan-Italian, and has a few good values sprinkled here and there. The pours tend to be meager, so go with a bottle if there are at least two of you. Also if there are two, a perfect meal would be one pizza (pick the margherita), one pasta, and if you need greenery, one of the side dishes such as cauliflower or the unexpected collard greens. With a bottle of wine, you can get by for around $60 apiece. Why does eating in a pizzeria have to be so damn expensive? 118 Greenwich Ave, (212) 242-2310.

All Posts by Robert Sietsema [ENY]

All Coverage of Rossopomodoro [ENY]

Rossopomodoro

118 Greenwich Avenue, New York, NY 10011 Visit Website
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