Italian with an Italian? Molto Bene!

rosso pizzeria

rosso pizzeria

My last night in wine country I hooked up with my friend Marcy for some serious Italian, pizzeria style.  Our destination?  rosso pizzeria and wine bar in Santa Rosa. 

rossa’s is inspired by the slow food movement and the bounty Sonoma County farmers have to offer.  The result?  Sustainable, fresh, delicious pizza, insalata, antipasti, piadine (flat bread with salad toppings), and salumeria that would make an Italian mama proud and a wine list that would make the whole family smile.

As Marcy is Italian, a food connoisseur, and a regular at rosso’s, I put the ordering for our extravaganza in her capable hands.  First up, the Rosso Caesar with “extra dots.”  Rosso’s caesar is composed of chopped romaine with creamy lemon anchovy dressing, gorgonzola dolce and “dots” of Calabrian chilies.  By asking for “extra dots” we were cranking up the heat!  Marcy tossed the salad and we dug in.  The Calabrian chilies added a spice and heat that took the caesar from ordinary to awesome.  On about the third bite, though, I hit a dot head-on.  Coughing and sputtering ensued.  Note, red wine does not help stop coughing – huh.   We decided that it probably would have been safer to ask for only one or two “extra dots” and the kitchen graciously mixed us up a new salad even though the snafu was totally our fault. 

Next up, pizza.  We ordered the special and beyond spicy sausage I can’t tell you what was in it, only that it was definitely in my top 5 list, and had no relationship to Domino’s whatsoever (not that I’m knocking Domino’s, their pizza factors into my childhood and high school memories fondly).  rosso’s cooks their pizza in a Tuscan wood-burning oven – it adds a hint of smoky goodness to every bite.

To crank up the healthiness of our meal (yeah, right) we accompanied our pizza with little sides (rosso calls these “Gusto”) of oven braised artichoke hearts with lardo and preserved lemon and sautéed watercress and arugula with garlic extra virgin olive oil and shaved peccorino.  Being “healthy” has never tasted so good.

Naturally we rounded out our meal with a few glasses of wine – a French red.  Go figure.

Marcy and I spent the evening chatting about food, wine, first impressions, recent travels, dining experiences and her upcoming trip to NYC to be in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!  (This woman knows the meaning of “Live, Live, Live”!)  Before we knew it three and a half hours had flown by and the restaurant was winding down.  My take on the night?  Molto bene!

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