cut out review
Had it not been for Sonia, Rubirosa would have fizzled in my mind like the various nondescript spots I ignore en route to bigger and better prospects (like Torrisi Italian Specialties). But when she grabbed my arm and moaned about their incredible vodka sauce pizza upon passing it last weekend, I knew it had to be something special. Coincidentally enough, just days later I came across a Serious Eats article marking Rubirosa as Nolita’s “best bets for pizza right now.” All signs urged me to suggest it as a meeting place for a much anticipated reunion with my college friend Ashley.
Front of Rubirosa
At first glance, one could mistake Rubirosa for a cheesy overpriced tourist trap, similar to the front runners on Bleecker between 6th and 5th avenue. The menu alone however is good indication that there’s history and love behind the delicious, red sauce italian food. Inside, a narrow bar lines the side of a few high top tables, which leads to a handful of regular dining tables in the back. Low lighting, good music, and the smell of mozzarella cheese make it ideal for any laid back occasion.
The complimentary bread was just the unremarkable quality I would expected at a pizza restaurant, but was served immediately before ordering, which I really appreciate as someone with low blood sugar. After studying the large medley of bruschetta (at $2.50 a piece), we decided to share the meatball bruschetta, which came with fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, and the rubirosa salad with arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes, croutons, and mozzarella. The bruschetta was excellent, and tasted identical to the ridiculous Dino’s meatball subs I once ate as pre-schooler in San Francisco. Fresh, gooey cheese with toasted olive oiled bread, complimented with a massive meatball only properly edible with a knife and fork. The salad was light, simply dressed, and straight forward, and the croutons were hearty and well seasoned.
We also ordered an escarole bruschetta, but when our waiter arrived with a side of escarole instead, we came to the sudden conclusion that words had been lost in American to Australian translation. Though he blamed it on my miscommunication, he was kind enough to leave us with the vegetable sides and take the items off our bill.
For our main course, we split a small pizza, which was far larger than what I’m used to eating at frilly pizza spots like Pulino’s or Otto. Despite utterly thin crust, the pizza fed us well with layers of sauce, mozzarella, peas, and prosciutto. Each slice sturdily held up its toppings and was stable enough to eat with our hands. My (requested) vodka sauce tasted great on the side, and the subtle creaminess balanced out the saltiness of the cheese quite well – I would definitely go for the vodka sauce pizza next time around. Overall, though, the pizza was hearty, flavorful, and wonderfully wood-oven charred. And the one up Rubirosa has on other wood oven pizzas is their 10:1 topping to crust ratio, as opposed to that of Pulino’s, for example, whose surface area is massively overwhelmed by unexciting crust.
Another pizza to taste...next time
I would undoubtedly return to Rubirosa to try yet another one of their delicious pizza combinations. Each table I could spy on had something totally unique but enticing, so it would pay to come with a group to have the chance to taste a variety. At just $40 for the two of us, Ashley and I left extremely satisfied in terms of not only our appetite, but with the feeling that we definitely got our money’s worth.
Location: 235 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012 (b/n Prince and Spring Streets