Our latest edition of Quick Bites brings us to Perry Street for pizza and dessert.
Rosemary's Pizza, like Rosemary's proper two blocks down on Greenwich Avenue, is a very attractive restaurant. Just opened last week from Carlos Suarez (he also owns Claudette and Bobo), this rustic corner spot is all white brick, light wood, exposed beams, ropes, and an open kitchen dominated by Mediterranean-style tiles and a wood-fired oven.
It won't exactly transport you to the Tuscany of the real Rosemary (that'd be Suarez's mother), but it does provide a pleasant place to wile away a couple of hours eating.
Suarez and crew, which includes Rosemary's chef Wade Moises, are old hands at the restaurant-opening business by now, and during week one the staff and service was all jitter-free. On the two nights that I visited there was enough of a crowd to make you feel as if you were on to something good, but still the noise level remained comfortable throughout. Having the bar/waiting area in a separate, windowed back room probably helps with that.
The menu at Rosemary's Pizza is, unsurprisingly, dominated by pizza, with seven suggested versions as well as a build-your-own option from an array of toppings. These are Neapolitan-sized individual pies, and Chef Moises fires them slowly, so there's an even brownness to the crust rather the more common burnt bubbles along the edge. There's also a welcome tang to the dough's flavor.
The best pizza I ate, and by a considerable margin, was the Broccoli Rabe — the ample greens complemented perfectly by creamy blobs of stracciatella, pine nuts for a bit of crunch, and pecorino for additional bite. The flavors were all balanced and strong, with nothing getting lost in the mix or buried in the breadiness. The Funghi pie was also good, covered in maitake and oyster mushrooms to an almost, but not quite, too-rich degree. Thin slices of apple offer acid to temper the earthiness, but splash some of the housemade Vinegar Cubanese on it as well. The Pepperoni pie was kind of a mushy mess, flavor-wise, and the Clam pie was far more bitter than briny.
There are four snacks, or "spuntini," from which to choose, and the winner here was definitely the Soppressata and Caciocavallo, the funky meat and sharp cheese served chunky and drizzled with olive oil. Rick's Chips & Onion Dip doesn't really fit with anything else, but is a decent enough thing to munch upon while you wait for your pizza. Over in the Insalate department, where everything comes from Rosemary's own Hudson Valley farm, the plate of Sweet Peas was as bright and fresh as you'd expect, whereas the sodden salad of Baby Gems suffered from too much gorgonzola dressing.
A large portion of your happiness here happens at the dessert stage, mostly because Mah-ze-Dahr, Greenwich Avenue neighbors and one of the best bakeries in town, has created two exclusive desserts for the spot: a decadent, knee-bucklingly delicious Malted Chocolate Budino, probably my favorite dessert so far this year; and a lighter, though equally satisfying, Strawberry Shortcake. A selection of Affogati round out your choices in the sweet section, including an invigorating Manhattan Special, which is vanilla gelato and cacao nibs with a coffee soda pour over.
There's so much new pizza in this area it's hard to keep up with it all, but if you order well and save room for multiple desserts, the pretty and comfortable Rosemary's Pizza is worth putting in your West Village casual-dinner rotation this summer.
Rosemary's Pizza is located at 1 Perry Street at the corner of Greenwich Avenue and is currently open daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with lunch and brunch coming soon (646-864-1200; rosemaryspizza.com)