Every borough has its own pizza culture. Some (Brooklyn) more prominent and noteworthy than others (the Bronx). And while it may get overlooked very often, Staten Island gives Manhattan and Brooklyn a run for its money when it comes to pizza offerings.

One highly regarded pizzeria out on Staten Island that I never made it to on my pizza journey is Joe & Pat’s. And now that the owner’s son, Angelo Pappalardo (who’s also worked at serious kitchens like ‘Esca) has brought the old school Italian recipes to Manhattan, I may never work up the motivation to get back on that ferry. Except after tasting the food and having an amazing lunch one Sunday afternoon at Rubirosa, I feel I need to go and see where it all began.

Rubirosa opened quietly last year and is slowly gaining momentum and a following. Along with Torrisi Italian Specialities, it’s bringing authentic, quality Italian food (none of that touristy stuff) back to the environs of Little Italy. Upon entering the cute little storefront, I was thrilled to discover that this was truly a restaurant for everybody. The front room around the bar area is romantic yet inviting to hipsters, fashionistas, and neighborhood clientele. Further in is a brighter space that is welcoming to Soho shoppers, tourists, and families. And then all the way in the back near the pizza oven feels like a quick, take-out joint. Of course, everybody is welcome in every room (I walked through the maze to check it all out and no alarms sent me back to my designated seat) and the menu is the same regardless where you sit.

The menu’s highlights seem to be pizza, but plenty of Italain red-sauce dishes are offered including some amazing meatballs (which come as a side order if you don’t want them with spaghetti). The black and white tagliatelle (which like all the pastas comes in two different portion sizes) was also a stand-out for me (with impressive opposite colors on either side of the pasta) featuring an array of fresh shellfish.

But pizza is what is advertised on their marquee outside, pizza is what Joe & Pat’s is famous for, and pizza is what I’ve dedicated a good chunk of my blog to. So Rubirosa’s pizza is what I’m going to focus on here.

We chose the small Fresca pie, which was a triumvirate of fresh Margherita-style ingredients: fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil. All the ingredients were as advertised although I thought the basil was a little sparse. The tomato sauce was on the sweet side but played nicely with the crisp, well-done crust. And oh, that crust. It was as thin as they come cracking upon touch but maintaining a flavor and moistness usually reserved to thicker style pizzas.

Supposedly this is the same recipe as the classic one at Joe and Pat’s. It was just one of the highlights at Rubirosa, which is a fantastic new restaurant that makes me want to travel (to Staten Island) and stay put (on the convenient island of Manhattan) all at the same time.

Is Rubirosa the best pizza in NY? They bring great classic Staten Island pizza to Manhattan complete with fresh, delicious toppings and a super thin crust so they get an 8 out of 10 but it remains to be seen how they stack up next to their predecessor at Joe & Pat’s.

RUBIROSA
235 Mulberry Street (between Spring and Prince Street)
Nolita
(212) 965-0500
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Category: Pizza

About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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