Restaurant Review - October 9, 2007 - Joanne
(Updated late February, 2008 on right.)

Interior at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Santa Rosa
Pizzeria & Wine Bar

Creekside Center
53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, CA

Dinner - August 26, 2007 (and other visits)

After eight years of living in Santa Rosa, there's finally a pizza restaurant we're enthusiastic about: Rosso. Located in an unattractive strip mall, we were amazed at the spiffiness of Rosso's interior. Decorated with antique poster-like custom-made paintings, with an Italian and/or Soccer theme, it scores beauty-simplicity points.

The pizza from the Valoriani wood-burning oven has been very good to great (crispy and thin but gooey where it needs to be). The wine list is really fun with many selections by the glass or carafe and almost all of the choices are organic, sustainable, biodynamic wines. Rosso also has a specials wine board so don't forget to consult it as they've had some interesting and unusual wines on it.

They make their own mozzarella and burrata. The charcuterie is handcrafted. They don’t serve pasta (except for kids and on the Goomba pizza, or as a weekly special). The vegetables and toppings are from local farmers – one of whom we visit weekly at the farmer’s market. They have Slow Food brochures at the door – what’s not to like? Daily specials are on the chalk board and range from slow roasted pig to risotto to gnocchi to lamb shanks. No dessert offered. We're regulars.

So far we’ve tried:

House-made Burrata & Parma Proscuitto
– Good but not mind-blowing. The Burrata is not the big sack of creaminess that I hoped for. The parma was ethereally light and nicely sliced.

Carciofo - wood oven roasted Artichokes
Carciofo (two grilled artichoke halves) – Varies from okay to excellent; usually just good. The red pepper aioli is slightly addictive.

Rosso ceasar piadine
Rosso Caesar PiadineRosso's version of caesar salad on a pizza crust base. Good dressing. The amount of anchovy, blue cheese and red pepper paste varies as it's made to order. This is an item we regularly order.

Love Farms Tomatoes in Rosso's Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad – Chunks of heirloom tomatoes with good oil and mozzarella. I’m not sold on their mozzarella and the tomatoes could have been just a hint riper. Still, very good and will order it again. We love that they use Love Farms tomatoes.

Margherita Pizza at Rosso
Margherita Pizza – The pizza we order most frequently. Very pleasing.

Funghi Pizza at Rosso
Funghi Pizza – Very good to great. No red sauce. Another regular item we order. Jack's favorite.

Bambini Spaghetti and Meatballs
Kid’s Spaghetti & meatballs – Meatballs can have a bit of spiciness so taste them first. The spaghetti is great; well cooked with an excellent sauce.

Interior at Rosso Pizzeria and WineBar

Interior at Rosso pizzeria and wine bar

Fritto Misto
Fritto Misto – Good; not too greasy and nicely crunchy. We liked the sauce.

Bambini Chicken & Potatoes
Bambini Chicken – The potatoes are wonderful slices with a slightly crispy exterior. The dipping sauce is fresh tomato marinara. The chicken is tender and tastes good (not currently on the kid's menu - Oct 2007).

Motto Gusto Pizza
Motto Gusto pizza – Fast becoming a regular pizza order. Lately we've been enjoying it with tomato sauce instead (it's a white pizza) but it's good either way.

Uva Pizza at Rosso
Uva pizza – The only pizza we've had so far which didn't win us over. But it's just personal taste.

Menu at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, CA

Pizza Menu

Bambini Menu at Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar
Kid's Menu - (The photo is now the menu from February, 2008.) The pizza with tomato and artichokes is not on the new menu but I'm sure they would make it. It still seems strange that they offer pasta choices for kids and not for adults, but their kid's spaghetti is frequently ordered by our young diner. We've also ordered off-menu and the kitchen is very amenable to resonable requests.

Wine List - Incredibly great for a Santa Rosa pizza restaurant. The wine list is very diverse and most of the choices are inexpensive. All are marked as either Organic, Sustainable or Biodynamic. Corkage is $10. Stemware is the equivalent of the Riedel stemless 'O'. (Wine list shown is from February 2008.)

Rosso Pizzeria and WineBar
Kitchen at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, CA

Update February, 2008

We dine at Rosso Pizzeria about six times per month. That's an astounding statement since there's no other restaurant we go to even twice-a-month. In general, we're always pleased with our meal. We also like that quite a few of the purveyors Rosso chooses are ones we often buy from, too. Much of the food/ingredients are local, sustainable and/or organic.

Specials Board at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar - Santa Rosa California

Of the seasonal daily specials, the Wood-Oven Roasted Dungeness Crab (Thurs), Gnocchi (Monday) and Slow-Roasted Pig (Sunday) are our favorites with Market Stew (Tuesday) and Risotto night (Friday) running up. Late-February - Don't miss the wood oven roasted asparagus with aioli if they are offering it!

Note that the specials preparations always vary and if you are concerned, call ahead to find out what today's special consists of. For instance the crab can be quite garlicky or spicy depending on the preparation. If the Rustic Market Stew is Osso Buco, get there early!

Gnocchi at Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, CA
Gnocchi on another night  at Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, CA
Risotto at Rosso Pizzeria & WineBar

During the cold months, they are offering a daily soup special. The Mushroom soup is particularly wonderful, so don't miss it if it's available. The Duck soup is equally wonderful. Okay, the gumbo was wonderful, too. Lately our little diner has been enjoying the tomato soup - made from Parson's locally-grown hothouse tomatoes.

Soup at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, CASweet Potato Winter Soup at Rosso

The pizzas we regularly order are the Margherita, Motto Gusto, Goomba and Funghi.

Moto Guzzi Pizza at Rosso
Margherita Pizza at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, CA
Goomba Pizza at Rosso Pizzeria

We have been quite happy each time we've ordered salami and charcuterie; we need to order these more often.

The wine list continues to improve, such as the addition of Lutea Pinot Noir RRV, and a very good Prosecco being available by the glass. The 2006 Araujo Altagracia (sauvignon blanc) is a tremendous value. Their markup on wine is quite low – there's no reason not to order wine here.

For a casual light meal in wine country (take the kids!) the quality of food and reasonable prices makes Rosso Pizzeria a first choice for Santa Rosa. There's no dessert, so even if there is a wait, it tends to be shorter than you would guess, as the tables turn quickly. Currently they only take reservations for groups of six or more. They do offer takeout - and do a good job with it, taking care to box things like dressing separately to keep lettuce from wilting.

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