By Jim Ayres
With deep apologies to my dear friends Edmund and Michael, with whom I’d discussed a possible visit to Cane Rosso, I couldn’t resist ducking into the Dallas import on a recent Sunday.
It couldn’t be helped. I’d been to a Four Seasons meeting at Neon Boots and had a couple of Cape Cods in me. I was famished. After dropping off my Heights-ish BFF (who wanted Jack in the Box drive-through), pizza sounded good. I’d heard that six-month-old Cane Rosso was some of the best.
Is it? Well, let me get a few details out of the way first. Cane Rosso is located on that sunny corner of Shepherd Drive and 19th Street (a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Montrose location off Richmond Avenue has also opened). Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure sunny dispositions from customers and staff, alike. My perch near the gold 900-degree brick oven added to the warmth.
That oven cooks your pizza in 90 seconds. Pizzaiolos stretch the dough by hand, add the toppings, scoop it up on a board and slide it into the wood fired oven. They may check it once or twice, move it around a bit for even cooking, but in the time it takes you to check in on Facebook, your pizza is ready.
Cane Rosso is certified by the Associazone VeracePizza Napoletana, an organization that promotes and protects the craft of Neapolitan style pizza. Thus, the dough is thin but not overly so, using DzOOdz flour from Italy. Sauce is made from hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, and mozzarella is pulled fresh daily.
I counted 22 pizza options on the menu. Sure, you’ll find the traditional Margherita, Marinara and Bianca pies, but Cane Rosso’s toppings are so vibrant you’ll want something that features a few of them. I chose Gus. I don’t know who Gus is, but his namesake pizza is wonderful. It includes sausage, mushrooms and basil—just enough to accent, not overwhelm.
The crust had those spots of bitter char that aficionados find so appealing. It’s meant to be crisp on the outer edges and softer close to the center, so these are knife and fork slices. Each pizza is cut into eight, so there’s enough to share.
Cane Rosso can produce some pretty wild pizzas, too. Paulie Gee is spicy, with soppressata, caramelized onions and Calabrian chiles. Delia is sweeter, with bacon marmalade, roasted grape tomatoes and arugula. Joan Marie is a spitfire, offering pepperoni with roasted jalapeno pesto.
I must mention my appetizer of Mozzarella Fritta, if only to compel you to indulge in its gooey, decadent fried goodness. It’s served as five discs, each the circumference of a soup can, and it’s simply the best thing I’ve eaten in this young year.
Sandwiches and pastas are available (the Johnny G sandwich comes highly recommended; it’s an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Goliath). Desserts are huge and if you’re so inclined, I’ll bet you head directly to the Diavoletti. Fried dough, powdered sugar and Nutella, anyone?
I think you’ll like Cane Rosso, even if it does hail from Dallas! After all, so do I, and that’s been good for Houston, right?
1835 North Shepherd Drive
Houston, Texas 77008