I like beer.

And for my first post, I figure it should be about a beer I just tried last night.

Hop Head Red IPA from Green Flash Brewing in San Diego.
This is a bit of a strange one.  The smell of hops hits you right away but when poured it comes out looking like a red ale.  With the name “Hop Head” you want a heavy hop flavor, that wasn’t really there with this one.  Taste is much more sweet than what I was looking for but was good.
If you like big hoppy IPAs, this probably isn’t for you…unless you want a slight break from the norm.

Cane Rosso

This past weekend, I was at the Association of Water Board Directors Winter Conference. Sounds exciting, right?!? It was held in sunny Dallas, Texas. Two days of seminars on droughts, water desalination, and all the incredibly boring information coming out of the state legislature.

But ol’ Jimmy Leg has an agenda. Jimmy Leg likes to eat, and Dallas offers some interesting options, from hole in the wall barbecue joints to 5 star dining experiences. Now, I am not above hitting up a vendor for a really nice meal, but on this trip, I already had a plan.

I grew up in Dallas. I have a lot of friends and family who still live there, so I picked up the phone to ask where I should be eating during my trip. The first place mentioned by a couple of friends of mine was Cane Rosso, a little pizza restaurant down on Commerce, across the street from the better known Twisted Root Hamburgers (of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives fame).

I love a good pizza. I know we all do, but I hold myself above the slobbering masses. I mean I LOVE a good pizza. I have had pizza in New York. I have had pizza Chicago. I find little pizza joints where ever I can to give their pie a try. Don’t get me wrong…I am not a pizza snob. My heart holds a special place for Red Baron’s frozen pizza, I have loved it since I was 7 years old, and still do.

But I was hunting special pizza, and my friends assured me I would find it at Cane Rosso. After reading their online menu several days before the trip, I decided to make sure to hit this restaurant up for a meal.

So, after a grueling few hours of playing games on my phone while I was sitting in seminars on billing issues associated with water operators, I gathered my flock of lunch mates, and jumped in a cab heading towards Deep Ellum.Walking in, it is obvious that this is a little bit of a hipster hangout.  That’s alright with me, all I care about is the food.  While waiting for the hostess to slide two table together for our party of nine, we were greeted with the slight smokey smell of the wood burning pizza oven, baking crust, and marinara.  It smelled…right.

After our waiter took our drink orders, we perused the menu, looking at all the different options of pizza and salad.  They were serving a limited menu, as they were also serving brunch, so we had a choice of two salads, and any of the pizzas on the menu. Our waiter informed us we should order one pizza for every two people, and that two orders of salad should be enough for the table.

We received our Mista and Caesar salads, each coming with paper thin sheets of parmigiana cheese and perfectly dressed with either balsamic vinaigrette or what tasted like homemade caesar dressing.  The two salads were perfectly sized to feed our table.

And then the pies arrived.  The first one delivered to the table was the Napolentana, topped with Italian tomatoes, garlic, basil, anchovies, and olives.

Next up was the Zoli, topped with Italian tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, sausage, and hot soppressata (think peperoni).

Pretty standard pizza fare so far.  The next two were a little more exotic…

Out comes the Prosciutto E Rucola, topped with fresh mozzarella, garlic, proscuitto crudo, arugula, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

And last, but certainly not least, was the Delia.  This was the pizza I came for. When I saw this little gem on the online menu during my research, this was the pie that made me definitely want to come down and try the pizza at Cane Rosso.

The Delia is topped with fresh mozzarella, roasted grape tomatoes, arugula, and…wait for it…SPICY BACON MARMALADE!

Spicy bacon marmalade? To some that might be a bit confusing, but I had just recently tried my hand at making a spicy bacon jam at home, and have long enjoyed the sweet and salty nature of candied bacon, so I had some idea what this would taste like.

The pizza crust on each was the same.  Thin, slightly floppy (like a good New york pizza), and delicious. Each pizza had a generous portion of ingredients, but not so much that all the flavors mashed up together.  Each bite had a slightly different flavor as the specific toppings hit the palate.

The Zoli was wonderful.  The creamy mozzarella and the meats commingled on the pizza majestically. The sausage was was just right, slightly crispy on the edges where the wood burning oven had cooked the meat just a little more.  The soppressata was spicy and added just a little heat to the party.

The Delia…what can I say.  The arugula lent a bit of pepper, the garlic a bit of bite, and the sweet, sweet bacon marmalade was delightful.  Perfect amount of sweetness to offset the arugula.  A bit of a mess to eat, since the arugula had a tendency to fall off the slice as the greens were added to the pie after it came out of the oven, but it was fantastic.

The Prosciutto E Rucola was different, but good.  The super thin slices of the cured ham were salty and paired exceptionally well with the peppery arugula.  It was really a light pizza, not weighed down with more heavy flavors.  A friend of mine has loved this combination on a pizza for a long time, and this was my first opportunity to try it. Well worth ordering.

And then there was the Napolentana.  Visually, the most attractive pie on the table. But, I am not a lover of olives, and I don’t care for anchovies, either. I did give it a try, and found it to be my least favorite of the group.  Not that it was bad…if you like anchovies and olives, then this pizza is for you.  The saltiness from the olive brine shown through, and the anchovies added a hint of the ocean to the pizza.  It’s just not my bag, baby.

The waiter was right, ordering four pizzas for our group was just right.  Every piece was eaten, but nobody left hungry, nor too full.  And the salad made it healthy, right?

Overall, I loved it. I will definitely be going back next time I am in Dallas. The food was excellent, the price was good ($99 tab for two large salads, four pizzas, and eight beverages), and the restaurant was clean.  I am already looking forward to trying a few more of their offerings.

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, go to Cane Rosso!