UPDATED below, with our impressions of opening night.
One of the most anticipated Fort Worth restaurant openings of the year is finally here: acclaimed Dallas pizzeria Il Cane Rosso opened the doors of its first Cowtown branch on Tuesday. Fans got the word via a canine-inspired Facebook post early Tuesday evening, with an ironic statement: “Not sure if anyone is interested in this, but …”
Jay Jerrier’s pizza palace sits in the primo space formerly occupied by Ryan’s Fine Grocery, at 815 W. Magnolia Ave.
The pizzas — Naples-approved, true Neapolitan-style pies — are wildly popular with diners and critics alike. Our Teresa Gubbins proclaimed them “not simply among the best in town, [but] on a par with renowned pizzerias such as A16 in San Francisco and Motorino in New York.” (Read her 2011 review here.)
We headed over early on opening night, and weren’t disappointed. We got there about 6 p.m., and by 7, the place was filled.
Keeping with the the open floor plans of its two Dallas locations, Cane Rosso Fort Worth has a warmth about it. The Italian pizza oven is center stage and hugged by a good-sized bar. Tables are peppered beneath elegant but homey chandeliers and a long L-shaped booth with several two-person tables rounding out the lower level. Up the short staircase there are more booth-table combinations, and one very large table perfect for large gatherings.
We entered the restaurant from the Magnolia Avenue side and were a bit thrown off that the hostess booth was on the opposite side, so make sure you walk around to the door facing The Live Oak if you don’t want to snake through the whole restaurant. (Eventually, you’ll want to remember this so you can be the first to get your name on the waiting list. Trust us, this place will be packed for a while.)
One of the pizzas we ordered was the Honey Badger, with mozzarella, soppressata, basil and soaked in a drizzle of habanero honey (and, according to Cane Rosso’s Facebook post, “unicorn tears.”) You’ve not lived until you have had this pizza. You won’t see it on the menu, but they’ll make it so long as the habanero honey is on hand. A friend ordered the Gipsy Danger, a pizza that packs a punch of heat — topped with a soppressata marmalade, roasted mushrooms, jalapeños and serranos.
The beauty of these pies is how quickly they come to life. Each pie is cooked at 900 degrees over Texas wood in a handmade Italian oven for under 60-75 seconds. In such a quick time, the simple, über-fresh ingredients melt into a variety of pies that keep us coming back for more.
Fort Worth residents have waited quite some time for this place, and after opening night on Magnolia Avenue, we think it’s already safe to say these pies are here to stay.
This week, Cane Rosso is open for dinner 5-10 p.m. through Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday. Stay tuned for news about lunch plans.
Check out Jay Jerrier on our Eats Beat podcast from late last year, as he talks with Bud Kennedy about his other venture, Zoli’s NY Pizza, expansion and more.
Original report follows:
Il Cane Rosso — Italian for “the red dog” — opened in early 2011 in Deep Ellum, featuring its thin crusts and elevated toppings, like hot soppressata (an Italian salami) and house-made mozarella. It was featured on a 2012 episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and in 2013, Jerrier opened a second location near White Rock Lake.
And now, finally: Fort Worth.
Of course, Fort Worthians have been able to grab a taste of Cane Rosso for years, thanks to a relationship with Times Ten Cellars winery on Foch Street; they serve Cane Rosso grub from a mobile pizza oven offering a limited menu of about 10 pizzas and salads, on Thursdays and Fridays. (Not to worry: that Times Ten-Cane Rosso relationship will continue even after the new standalone restaurant opens.)
The newest Cane Rosso will feature a special Fort Worth pie called “Gipsy Danger,” a reference to Pacific Rim. It’s a “white pie” with roasted jalapeños, mushrooms and spicy marmalade. Want something off-menu? Ask if they can do a Honey Badger pizza, with mozzarella, soppressata and basil topped with a hefty drizzle of house-made habanero honey.
For a peek inside the new CR, check out these photos by our pal Malcolm Mayhew, who wrote about the new spot for Eater Dallas.