This restaurant is far from a newcomer to the Stamford pizza scene. When Bar Rosso first opened, however, their pizza menu was limited to Thursday-Sunday or something absurd like that, and it felt like an afterthought. They’ve since expanded pizza service to full-time and we’ve since dropped in for a visit.
Establishment. Bar Rosso is a really nice restaurant. Walking in, we were greeted by warm lighting, expensive-looking stonework, a big centerpiece of a pizza oven, and a greeter. In that order. There is an abundance of seating in the restaurant’s two floors of dining room and the service (albeit a bit shaky on reciting the daily specials we didn’t care about) was fitting of an establishment with cloth napkins, plates that aren’t round, and a lack of decimal points on the menu. Through all of these extravagant trimmings, though (and despite the big wood-fired pizza oven in the corner), Bar Rosso does not feel like a pizza restaurant. Sure, pizza is on the menu, but it takes a back seat to exotic pomegranate cocktails and stuff with truffle shavings on it.
Pizza. Nevertheless, we stuck with our tradition of ordering a plain pizza (or the closest thing to it) and topped one, or in this case, three topped ones. Our pies of choice were a margherita pizza, and sausage-, spicy salami-, prosciutto-topped pizzas.
Each pizza was founded on a delicate crust, blistered and charred out of the wood-fired oven, but not necessarily very crisp. While it held up fairly well on the plain pie, this crust proved to be very flimsy under the weight of anything more than a charred, wilted, and needlessly bitter basil leaf. In line with the quality ingredients prominent throughout the rest of Bar Rosso’s menu, the cheese (a house-made mozzarella) on these pies is very rich, creamy, and fresh. The sauce, on the other hand, is extremely subdued (some might say bland) and doesn’t stand out at all. As such, the foundation of any pizza you can order here has no real character; a resounding meh, regardless of how many ingredients one heaps upon it.
Our experience with the toppings we ordered ranged from good (sausage, prosciutto) to largely disappointing (salami) and all echoed the same sentiment: some toppings belong on a pizza, some just don’t. Bar Rosso shows an immense amount of creativity with their pizza menu and backs a lot of it up with quality ingredients, but the underlying element—the pizza itself—is underwhelming and there’s nothing a sprinkling of Calabrian chili oil can do to make it memorable.
Bottom line. Bar Rosso is clearly concentrated on being a top-notch, go-to establishment for modern Italian cuisine and fine wine; unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the simple things that make a good pizza.
Hits the Spot: 5/10
Large cheese: $12.00 (10")