- Restaurant Rubirosa
- Cuisine Italian, pizza, gluten-free
- Location 235 Mulberry Street (between Prince & Spring Streets), Manhattan
- Phone 212-965-0500
- Directions Hopstop
- Atmosphere warm, casual
- Attire smart casual
- Ideal for small groups, 1x1, foodies
- Price affordable to moderate
Sunday sucked. At least in terms of the weather. I swear, it felt like it had been years since we'd seen rain come down as hard as it did. And, of course, not only did I have an exercise class to attend, but I had a brunch date immediately afterward. Ugh. Of all days to have plans! What did get me out of bed, however, was the fact that I would get to see my friend, Shirley, and meet her fiance, Chris, for the first time over brunch at Rubirosa.
In true Lunch Belle fashion, I arrived at Rubirosa roughly 5-minutes before our scheduled meeting time, which, also happened to be when the restaurant would open its doors (ahem, at 11:30am). So, with some minutes to spare, I stood under my umbrella - shoes soaking wet - and waited, patiently, on the short stoop leading up to the restaurant. "Excuse me," a girl snapped, as she briskly walked up the stoop to enter Rubirosa. Door slamming behind her. Clearly, she was not about to invite me to wait-out my remaining 2-minutes indoors.
Keeping an eye on both my wristwatch and mobile phone in order to make sure that one wasn't too fast/too slow, I dashed in to Rubirosa the second that each device read "11:30am." Once inside, I felt like I had just entered a bar from an old western movie...post shootout. There was no one in sight. And, to make matters worse, I felt like a melting popsicle - excreting condensation and dripping, from head to toe, with rain water.
Finally, a bar tender arrived and, shortly thereafter, the hostess made her appearance and approached her stand. Since I was the first customer of the day, I was told that I could sit anywhere I liked; I ended up picking a cozy four-top located in the front of the restaurant, overlooking Mulberry Street. After making myself comfortable, Shirley and Chris walked through the door.
"This place is so cute!" Shirley gasped. She was right, Rubirosa did ooze a certain "je ne sais quois" casual charm. Be it the copper ceiling - the full-sized, old fashioned bar - the intimate space - the lack of red and white checkered tablecloths - whatever it was, Rubirosa did not look like your average pizza / "red sauce" Italian joint.
Because all of the dishes arrived at once, I will list them in the order that they were consumed...by yours truly.
Of all of the dishes that we ordered, this was, hands down, the most unique and my favorite. Eggs "Rubirosa" is the restaurant's spin on traditional Eggs Benedict: served atop each half of a buttery-toasted roll (not sure if it was brioche or a potato roll) was (in order from bottom to top): tomato sauce-soaked, smashed homemade meatball, a perfectly poached egg, and a generous, soupy dollop of warm, parmesan cheese-infused Hollandaise sauce. A bed of leafy greens, tossed in a light vinaigrette, was dotted with sliced radishes and juicy halved cherry tomatoes.
It's hard not to love a mound of perfectly-cooked Arborio rice - blended with pungent fontina and creamy marscapone cheeses, plus chopped salty and smoky prosciutto - that spends its final prepratory moments being bathed in a deep fryer. Pair the finished product with a tangy tomato dipping sauce, and you've got one hell of a hearty little snack!
Ricotta, blended with a delicate lemon essence, was spread atop crepes (which were then folded in to quarters) and presented over sweet blueberry jam.
I love pizza. I always have. And I'm fortunate enough to live in the best place, this side of Italy, to get my fix. That being said, I didn't walk in to Rubirosa expecting to a) necessarily even order pizza (hey, it was brunch, after all) b) and, even if I did plan to order the pizza, be blown away.
Although the restaurant is known for their pies, prior to ordering our meal, we had my minds set on brunch food. Not pizza. Luckily, our server suggested that we consider otherwise. Shirley, Chris, and I split Rubirosa's "Classic" pizza, which was topped with nothing more than tomato sauce and cheese. No fancy toppings. The crust carried the perfect amount of weight; it wasn't too thick, and it wasn't paper thin. Its edges were both pillowy and crunchy, and I could taste the smoky aroma from the oven in which it was cooked. The tomato sauce was tangy and laced with small, chunky nibs that burst with juice when bitten. And the cheese? Ahhh, the cheese. Well, cheese can make or break a pie (Too much cheese? You've got a greasy mess. Too little? You may as well dip cardboard in to marinara sauce.). There wasn't an overabundance of cheese, but there wasn't a sparse amount, either. I suppose Rubirosa has cheese quantities down to a science; after all, they have been in the business for 50 years. And it shows: this, dear readers, was the perfect pizza pie.
Up until I was seated, my early moments at Rubirosa were beginning to feel like the making of Alan Richman's ungodly experience at M. Well's (minus the butt-slap accusation, of course). Maybe the chick, who passed me on the stoop, had just gotten dumped by her boyfriend. Maybe she had a migraine. Perhaps she wanted to stay home and watch movies on that wet, dreary Sunday. People have "off" days, I get that. But come on, if there's a monsoon outside and you're about to open the restaurant in 2-minutes, the least you can do is give me the "come on in" arm motion so that I don't further soak. Seriously.
Post meal, however, I could not have been more satisfied. Every plate we ordered was fantastic, and our server was a doll. Would I return to Rubirosa? Absolutely. Would I recommend the restaurant to you, my readers, friends, family, and colleagues? Without a doubt. Here's a tip: the reason that I chose to dine here for brunch is because scoring a dinner reservation (via Opentable) is near impossible - unless, of course, you're willing to be seated at 11pm. Brunch reservations are easier to grab, especially in the summertime, and the meal is always less expensive!
Until we eat again,
The Lunch Belle