Marietta, GA: Is Rosa's Pizza True New York-Style in the 'Burbs? That Depends...
3605 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta, GA 30066 (map); 770-321-7855; www.rosaspizza.net
Pizza type: New York style
Oven type: Gas
The Skinny: Sloppy, gooey, and greasy... if that's the kind of thing you're looking for
Price: Large 16-inch, $12.75 (toppings $2.25 each); Joe's Pizza, $19.25 (large)
Life in the suburbs means you often have to settle. Don't get me wrong; we enjoy great schools and I love having a yard. But once you motor 20 miles outside the city, you're often limited by geography when it comes to things like dry cleaners, theaters... and pizzerias. The good news is that every strip mall is seemingly required by law to house a pizza place. The bad news is that seemingly every pizza place in the 'burbs is housed in a strip mall. And while I've had some perfectly fine pies at many, it can definitely be a hit-or-miss proposition. Sometimes, though, you just have to settle for what's nearby.
Rosa's Pizza couldn't be more convenient to me. It's located in the same shopping center as my grocery store and my Home Depot, nestled in a long row of retailers with many of the usual suspects: Bath & Body Works, GNC, a used-CD store (who's still buying CDs???), and the ubiquitous frozen yogurt shop. But unlike many generic "Italian-Sounding-Name" pizza joints, Rosa's comes with a bit of pedigree. Mr. Rosa, a Long Island native, opened his namesake pizzeria in downtown Atlanta, right off the Georgia State University campus, over 20 years ago. And among local pizza fiends, his is considered some of the most genuine New York-style pie you're likely to find in the A. But with the three family members who run Rosa's all migrating outside the perimeter, a closer-to-home satellite location seemed like a natural fit. That's where I found myself on a recent weeknight, during a rushed evening of chauffeuring kids to swimming lessons and gymnastics practices, when cooking dinner at home clearly wasn't in the cards.
My pie came out of the dual gas ovens looking decent enough: lots of gooey mozzarella, a substantial scattering of pepperoni across half. This 50/50 was a strategic choice, allowing me to test-drive the regular pie, but also to follow up on one of the more common knocks I'd heard on Rosa's—that the pepperoni is excessively greasy. Underneath, the crust had no char spots, and the crackly outer rim surface quickly gave way to a doughy, chewy interior. Almost no big bubbles in the hand-tossed crust. My slice from the plain half was monumentally cheesy; my sample from the pepperoni half was monumentally greasy. If by "authentic New York pizza" Rosa's means "a sloppy, greasy slice that satisfies a craving but has no real character and leaves you with pangs of regret later," then they are spot-on. I guess there's some of that in the Big Apple, and believe me, there are times when that's precisely what I'm looking for in a pie. But I have a feeling that ultimately plays better to the late-night college crowd at the downtown location than it does up here in MiniVanLand.
I had higher hopes for one of the specialty pies, Joe's Pizza. A sauceless offering, it's topped with chicken, mozzarella, Parmesan, and your choice of ranch or honey mustard dressing latticed over the top. It was a pretty pizza that even showed a few darkened spots down below, but Joe's beauty proved to be just skin deep. Dry, overcooked chicken and way too much ranch (I can't believe I just typed that) left me thinking about the menu, where a starburst graphic next to Joe's Pizza exclaims, "You have to TRY this." Interesting that they emphasized the word "try" with all caps; I did TRY it... and was done almost immediately.
Would I go back to Rosa's Pizza? I guess I wouldn't turn my nose up at a plain cheese slice (under two bucks!) during my next Home Depot run. But then again, why settle? I'm in the suburbs, after all. There's more pizza as close as the next strip mall.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT and pizzas for Slice, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.