Sunday, April 5th, 2009
With a menu that reads like a Sicilian love letter, former Tra Vigne Chef John Franchetti’s Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar ain’t your average pie shop.
The remodeled space in Santa Rosa’s Creekside Center focuses on paper-thin prosciutto, fresh-made tapenades, signature salads, antipasti and bubbling wood-fired pizzas.
No ravioli. No manicotti. No frozen breadsticks.
Instead, Franchetti sticks to fresh, simple piatto that let the flavors of his painstakingly-chosen, organic and sustainable products shine through. Like Franchetti’s house made burrata–a fresh milk mozzarella stuffed with ricotta.*
Sourcing the curds from an award-winning local cheese maker who learned the craft from his Italian grandfather, Franchetti forms the fresh, pillowy cheese by hand and serves it with nothing more than a wink of olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s heaven on a plate.
In fact, the SR-native actually gets contagiously giddy talking about his organic salad mix from Sebastopol, the reverse-osmosis water used for the dough (which he makes several times daily) and signature veal and pork meatballs with marinara. Franchetti cops to the fact that after reading Jeff Cox’s recent rail about imported olive oil, he decided to use locally sourced (and definitely not cheap) McEvoy Ranch oil exclusively. Both on the menu and in the kitchen, he pays homage to his producers–Rafter Ranch, Redwood Hills, Love Farms and Point Reyes– rather than the usual lip-service to distract from the SYSCO truck pulling up out back.
Standouts include fritto misto made with calamari and local organic veggies with a green chile aioli; $3 “snacks” of crispy pizzetta and fresh made tapenades (don’t miss the creamy ‘pesce’ spread made with fish, lemon and mascarpone); salads (like the Rosso Caesar with chopped Sonoma romaine, lemon anchovy dressing, gorgonzola and Calabrian chilies, $8.50); ‘piadine’ flat breads with salads piled on top; or fresh pizzas with toppings of Sonoma white corn, roasted peppers, red onion, arugula and Redwood Hill goat cheese.
House made prosciutto and salumi frequent the menu, along with locally sourced meats. The wine bar offers up a large list of well-chosen organic, sustainable and biodynamic wines from Sonoma County and beyond.
Kids get healthy treatment, too, with their own menu of pint-size pizzas, roasted chicken, salads and fried house-made mozzarella.
Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar, Creekside Center, 53 Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa, 707.544.3221.
*Okay cheese nerds, here’s the deal: Burrata typically refers to fresh mozzarella stuffed with cream and bits of mozzarella. Historically the cheese is wrapped in fresh leeks to signify its freshness (if they’re not still green, it’s too old) and consumed within days of being made. The real Italian stuff is near impossible to find in the states unless it’s flown in. Some refer to Franchetti’s version of burrata as
‘burricotti’, since it is filled with ricotta rather than cream.