Pizzeria La Rosa feels like the kind of place you went with your grandparents. You’d order a couple pies, maybe one with fat slices of pepperoni that curled into oily cups. You’d wash it down with a few A&W cream sodas and round out the meal with salad — chunks of iceberg, pepperoncini, wedges of tomato, and rings of red onion — served in composite wood bowls.
The vibe at La Rosa is exactly like those old-school pizzerias with wide booths, ceiling fans, and exposed-brick walls. The bar used to be a soda fountain. The oven, which turns out ethereally crispy, chewy, charred-in-places pies, is from 1924.
But owners Frank Pinello, who also owns Brooklyn’s Best Pizza, and Matt DiGesu, a Tuckahoe native who worked alongside Pinello at the Williamsburg pizzeria, could never be that predictable. There’s a spectacular white pie on the menu with house-made mozzarella, clouds of ricotta, and sharp pecorino, balanced by jammy caramelized onions and toasted sesame seeds — but you’ll also find toppings Nonna would scoff at, like kale, purple Peruvian potatoes, and garlic confit. Salads are served in those same patchwork bowls, but instead of iceberg, it’s arugula, plump golden raisins, pickled fennel, and lemon-confit vinaigrette. (Seriously, order it.)
Pat LaFrieda beef meatballs and eggplant rollatini share menu space with pickled eggplant and charred broccolini topped with salami breadcrumbs. The chicken parm is an organic chicken thigh, brined for 24 hours, fried, cloaked in milky mozzarella and perked up with spicy tomato sauce.
In short, there’s enough nostalgia to tug at your heartstrings, but our Nonna never cooked like this.