How do you define what makes a good pizza? Do you like yours Chicago-style, deep enough to fill a cast-iron skillet? Thin and floppy? Drenched in sauce or dripping with cheese? At Cane Rosso’s third location, its first in Fort Worth (the other two are in Dallas), there’s a particular shtick at play. The menu writers went to great lengths to communicate the many ways in which their pizza is unique and stating that true Neapolitan style is closer to foldy than fluffy. Cane Rosso’s crust is made with un-enriched flour, yeast, water, and salt and is baked in the restaurant’s signature red brick oven at 900 degrees for a tad over a minute. It’s delicately sauced, with lots of darkened grill marks and bubbles. But if all you’ve ever had is Neapolitan pizza at the mall or airport, you may be confused by what’s placed in front of you at this West Magnolia Avenue pizzeria.
Our table of three picked The Gus, a pie with crumbles of sausage, huge fresh mushrooms, and a gorgeous sauce made up of delicately smashed San Marzano tomatoes, which are apparently sweeter and less acidic than their Roma cousins. The mozzarella didn’t blanket the pizza; rather, the cheese looked like little islands in a sea of tomato sauce and basil. We wished for a little more sausage but appreciated the chewy, light crust and the balance of wonderful flavors.
There’s more to Cane Russo than just pizza, and the Maialino antipasti platter far exceeded our expectations. The giant appetizer plate, which could well double as a meal, featured grilled eggplant and zucchini, mildly spicy prosciutto, a prosciutto crudo, and a super-spicy pepperoni-like soppressata. Also in the mix: parmesan and gorgonzola cheeses, fresh mozzarella, and ramekins of pesto, olives, and zesty Calabria chiles. It was like a little orgy of high-quality deli meat and cheese, sprinkled with sweet olive oil and dried cranberries, and accompanied by slices of soft bread. Smear some basil-heavy pesto on the fresh mozzarella –– heaven! Wrap the soppressata around a giant shard of parmesan cheese –– yummmmm! The price tag was fairly hefty, but the platter could serve six, or, in this case, three with leftovers.
Another tasty item was the meatball appetizer: three soft, fluffy, veal-based ping-pong ball-sized meatballs in a deliciously light and fresh marinara sauce. Fair warning: The veal is very pale, and if you’re not prepared for this, you might think the meatballs are underdone.
The half-size caesar salad was still quite generous, more than enough to share. The crunchy romaine hearts were accompanied by shards of Parmesan cheese and, if you want them, white anchovies on the side.
The only real disappointment of the meal was dessert. We were drawn to the house-made tiramisu but ended up ordering the Bella Mela, described in the menu as “vanilla bean, mascarpone, cinnamon apples, sea salt, and caramel.” Nowhere does the menu mention these lovely ingredients come on pizza crust. We also weren’t thrilled about the thin, runny mascarpone and the dearth of apples. And if there was any salted caramel, the flavor must have gotten lost in the over-caramelization of the crust. Cane Rosso’s 900-degree oven works well with savory toppings, but the heat applied to the sugar caused the crust to be unpleasantly burnt in places.
The dining experience was also slightly marred by our politely distracted server.
815 W Magnolia Av, FW. 817-922-9222. 11am-3pm Sun, 5-10pm Mon, 11am-3pm and 5-10pm Tue-Thu, 11am-3pm and 5-11pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
The Gus ………………………… $15
Maialino antipasti platter ….. $25
Meatballs ………………………. $8
Caesar salad …………………. $5
Bella Mela ……………………… $10