Dining

The Restaurant That's Redefining New York Pizza

La Rossa is turning your favorite pastas into can't-miss pies
Photos: Francesco Sapienza

Stefano Callegari didn't have your average path to becoming one of Rome's most well-known pizza chefs: He spent 10 years as a flight attendant. Blame it on the airplane food or blame it on nearly 100 trips to Naples, but he found himself inescapably drawn to the art of pizza-making, and the world is better off for it. 

Eight Italian locations of La Rossa later, Callegari has opened up shop in New York City, a pizza oasis in the heart of bustling Soho. If the scent of fried rice balls and toasting dough doesn't immediately draw you in, the sight of a pepper mill-garnished cacio e pepe pizza on a nearby table should do the trick.

The classics are not to be missed (margherita, zucchini flowers and anchovies, marinara), but the real reason you're at La Rossa is for the Roman pasta-inspired pies. If someone were to ask you to close your eyes and have you guess whether you were eating pizza or pasta, surely you couldn't be fooled, but that's because you've yet to try the cacio e pepe specialty pie.

Callegari tops his signature cold-fermented dough with ice cubes (instead of mozzarella) before sticking it in the oven, then removes it and tops it with pecorino that immediately melts into the arms of the crispy, puffy dough. The result is an inexplicably creamy pie that's topped with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper and tastes just like a bowl of pasta. Yet like so many other dishes that take two minutes for a server to explain, this doesn't feel like a gimmick.

Should you think you're too full for dessert, you'll want to power through. The whipped ricotta, spun with thin shards of dark chocolate, is served with rectangles of focaccia for what's essentially a build-your-own-dessert-pie experience that ends the night on a sweet note.

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