Rose Pizzeria — the East Bay pizza joint that was initially expected to debut earlier this summer — will open tomorrow, December 1, at 1960 University Avenue in Berkeley, with pizzas that focus on crusts made from “heritage grains” and topped with high-quality ingredients.
The Bay Area has seen a number of new pizzerias over the past few months. Palo Alto’s State of Mind Slice House has become a South Bay go-to for grabbing a quick afternoon slice; Damnfine’s wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas now regularly draw long wait times at their Inner Richmond eatery come the weekend; Detroit-style pies at Square Pie Guys on 9th Street in Oakland are as thick as they are satiating. But Berkeley's soon-to-be-opened Rose Pizzeria promises to bring something else to the region: pizzas that are “a mix of Neapolitan and New York.”
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Initially teased by Nosh in June of this year, the new restaurant is putting a blind eye to the pandemic-born delivery trend as of late, opting to forego takeout orders entirely and, instead, encourage patrons to dine-in. Gerad Gobel and Alexis Rorabaugh, the husband and wife team co-owners of Rose Pizzeria, said to the East Bay food publication recently that it’s a risk they’re willing to take.
But that’s not to say the decision hasn’t left them with some doubts.
“We keep asking each other if we’re nervous,” Gobel said to Nosh earlier this week. “But we’ve done this before, for other people, and for ourselves.”
Rose Pizzeria won’t serve wood-fired pizzas or deep-dish pies, either; you also won’t find a gluten-free pizza anywhere on Rose Pizzeria’s menu. That said, these two industry veterans know what they’re doing.
The couple initially met at Bar Agricole over ten years ago before working at other celebrated eateries like Delfina and Abbot’s Cellar. The couple then later moved to Chicago to open Italianette in 2019 — which was favorably reviewed by Chicogans and local media outlets, alike — and, earlier in the pandemic, returned to the East Bay with new business ventures in mind.
And what the couple eventually landed on was a pizzeria model all of itself. Tomorrow, December 1, Gobel and Rorabaugh will see that idea become reality when Rose Pizzeria opens with abundant outdoor (and indoor) seating and a relatively light, straightforward menu.
This first run of seven different thin-crust 12-inch-size pizzas have been described by Gobel as “a mix of Neapolitan and New York,” each pie cooking inside an electric, deck-style oven that, per the restaurateur, offers a “nice dry heat,” for the naturally-leavened dough to cook thoroughly and form a textured crust. Speaking of the crust: Rose Pizzeria is using what are known as “heritage grains” — varieties of wheat, rye, barley, and oats grown before the introduction of scientific plant breeding.
Gobel said to Nosh that the pie offerings, themselves, will rotate, though a few standards (like Margherita-style and pepperoni pies) will remain menu staples. At the moment, there’s no intention yet to serve pizzas without gluten proteins, but vegan patrons can count on ordering plant-based pizzas topped with dairy-free cheeses.
A generous selection of wines — most of which come from Italy, France, and the West Coast vineyards — can be had either by the glass or bottle; seven beers are available by the pint from various craft brewers; sodas and sparkling waters, as well as two canned coffee offerings from La Colombe, round out the drink menu (that presently includes three aperitivo cocktails). Aside from the pies, starters like barrel-aged feta and snacking nuts exist alongside two sweet dishes: an olive oil cake and chocolate budino.
Though in a perfect world, Gobel and Rorabaugh would have more time to iron out the workflow in their small kitchen, the couple is eager to open: “I mean, there’s only so much you can prepare for, but I think we’re ready.”
// Rose Pizzaria is located at 1960 University Avenue in Berkeley and will be open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., rosepizzeria.com