Saturday, August 31, 2019

Review: Cane Rosso - Austin TX

Cane Rosso ("red dog") is a Dallas-based mini-chain of Neapolitan pizzerias, which began when owner Jay Jerrier was inspired to recreate in Texas the wonderful pizza he had eaten in Italy in 1995. The Cane Rosso website notes that the "dough is made in-house every day, using OO flour from Italy while the sauce is made from hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, and our mozzarella is pulled fresh in-house daily."

There are six Dallas-Fort Worth locations, one in Houston, and one in Austin. We had occasion for a lunchtime visit to the Austin location, just off Route 290 in Sunset Valley.

This particular location is located in a small commercial strip featuring other attractive hipster hangouts - a coffee house and an ice cream joint. We were immediately struck by the amount of attention paid to the eclectic decor, inside and out. There was a large attractive outdoor patio, but on this 100 degree August day we opted for inside seating.

The lunch special, available Monday thru Friday, was a compelling value. For $13, you get a 10" personal Neapolitan pizza (Margherita, pepperoni, or sausage) with a choice of house salad, Caesar salad, or rosemary parm tater tots. We got one pepperoni, one sausage, one house salad, and one Caesar.
Sausage pizza with the house salad
The salads were right-sized, fresh, and appetizing. Service was friendly and attentive, and our pies arrived swiftly. One glance at the leopard spotting, the puffy cornicione, and the curled spicy cup pepperoni told us that this was an authentic Neapolitan; the dome ovens confirmed it.
Pepperoni pizza with the Caesar salad
Should a Neapolitan be wet in the center, as many claim a genuine Neapolitan pizza should be? I'm acclimated to the idea that with such pies, the first few bites will be moist and floppy because the delicate Neapolitan crust generally cannot support the kind of toppings payload that Americans expect.
Sausage slice close-up
Here, the first bite of each slice was indeed soft (but not soggy) and the texture improved with each bite closer to the cornicione. The crust was full of its own character and good bready flavor, soft yet chewy, yielding to a crunchy chew at the cornicione.
Twin Neapolitan dome wood-fired ovens
The fresh mozzarella, white and creamy, blended well with the bright red sauce as it helped adhere the meat toppings. White the crumbled sausage was very good, the spicy cup pepperoni was spectacular. Just about any cured meat adds an essential umami element to pizza, but spicy cup is several measures better than standard thin flat pepperoni.
Interior decor
The ingredients, the textures, and the flavors were all in harmony. This well-made and well balanced pizza is not breaking any new ground, but Cane Rosso is executing a classic Neapolitan pizza in excellent style. 
Lovely char underneath
Given the quality of this simple lunch special, I'm keen to go back and sample the spunto (appetizers/snacks) as well as the pastas. There is also a creative brunch menu with three breakfast pizzas and six other items like poutine, chicken & waffles, and a biscuit sandwich. Great stuff and great value in a hip atmosphere.

Need another reason to visit? Owner Jay Jerrier founded and funds Cane Rosso Rescue, whose mission is to find homes for dogs that have been abandoned at shelters or whose owners can no longer care for them.  Good pizza, good works.

Cane Rosso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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