Rossopomodoro: Tomato Red

13 Jul


Normally I wouldn’t bother much with writing about a chain restaurant here in Rome, when there are so many great family-run and non-chain places to explore. However, this place merits a special mention. Rossopomodoro is a chain found in central and southern Italy, but apparently also in London and Sydney.

If you’re familiar with Rome, then perhaps you’ll remember Brek Cafè that used to be at the corner of Largo Argentina, in front of the Feltrinelli bookshop. It mysteriously closed its doors quite a few months ago, and just recently Rossopomodoro popped up in its place. Completely remodeled, you wouldn’t recognize that it used to be Brek except for the staircase. The photo above is the downstairs entrance, where the bar used to be. They’ve done an incredible job.

I met a friend of mine here for lunch because we were both curious to try this new place out. It’s a Neapolitan-style pizza place. Neapolitan style means thicker, doughier crust than the typical Roman cracker-thin fare. While I was waiting for my pal, I noticed the little “mini-market” of Neapolitan food items they had set up near the entrance.



I was particularly impressed by the selection of the above digestivi and liquori (after-dinner digestives and liquors), because there were some that I’d never even heard of before. Of course, there were the old standbys of limoncello (our homemade recipe here) and crema di limoncello, as well as grappa, melone (canteloupe melon flavor) and nocino, a walnut-flavored infusion. But I also saw apple and cherry flavors as well. I meant to write down the names because I’d never seen them before, but I didn’t have a pen.

On the menu you’ll find a decent variety of selection, from salads to pasta, but obviously you’d be amiss not to try the pizza at a Neapolitan pizza place. My friend and I both ordered one of their specialty pizzas, called the “Scarpetta.” It’s a specialty because it uses a certain type of cheese (pecorino di Bagnolese) that Slow Food has determined is “headed for extinction” — so on the Rossopomodoro menu it’s marked with a red heart in order to give it some attention. This cheese comes from the region of Campania (as I think all menu items, more or less) and is made from the milk of Bagnolese sheep. The pizza also had “buffaline” — little buffalo’s milk mozzarelle, tomatoes, basil and pepper. Care to take a look?


I normally don’t get too excited about pizza, but this one was GOOD. I think it cost about €8 or so, which I consider a decent price for a Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant. Something I’ve always found strange about Neapolitan pizza places in Rome is that they are soooo expensive. Pizza Rè, anyone? This place was fairly reasonable in comparison.

After eating that, I really had no room for dessert, but my friend asked for a menu anyways. When it came, he and I both looked at each other with a mischievous twinkle in our eyes: “Want to share the calde calde?” Don’t you love it when you and your dining partner read each other’s minds? We asked how many “calde calde” come in a serving, and were told three. They were described as a sort of fried bread sprinkled with sugar and Nutella (drool), so I figured like three little donut holes. Perfect, I thought. I’ll manage to eat one, considering I have no room for dessert anyways.

Well folks, let me tell you: when the plate below arrived, all bets were off.

Calde calde

Donut holes they were not! These were full-on, Homer-size donuts, covered in crunchy granulated and silky powdered sugar and drizzled with warm Nutella. Strangely enough, I *suddenly* found room for dessert. For €3.80, I’m telling you, it’s worth it just to stop in and eat these. My friend, who is from the Campania region himself, told me that this dessert reminded him of summer days on the beach. He told me that when he was growing up, men would come around with boxes of these, selling them at the shore. “Although,” he added, “they didn’t have Nutella.” Peccato.

Here’s a view of the pizza kitchen at work, taken as we came back downstairs after our meal, a few pounds heavier:


The only curious thing about this place is that, in comparison to your average Italian eatery, it is positively OVERRUN with wait staff. My friend and I started a running joke that for every task required of a waiter (bringing water, taking order, delivering food, etc.), we got to meet a new member of the wait staff. I think we counted 7 different people who visited our table at one time or another, which is really odd. We had a few good ha-has when one random staff member literally came over to our table, picked up a bottle of olive oil sitting in the center of the table, and moved it to the corner of our table, all without saying a word. Very mysterious. At one point when we wanted the check and inevitably couldn’t seem to find anyone to ask, my friend moved the olive oil bottle back to the center of the table. “This will get someone over here in a flash!” he joked.

If you’re in a hurry and need a quick fix on the go, they even have a take-away window on the street outside, with pizza and fried snacks. For the sweet treats I think you have to order inside from the menu.

This is a place where tourists and locals (especially local business people on lunch break) can all find something. There’s even a quick lunch menu for people with a short lunch break.

Needless to say, I’m looking for any excuse to go back here, and soon!


Rossopomodoro, Largo Argentina


24 Responses to “Rossopomodoro: Tomato Red”

  1. sognatrice July 13, 2007 at 11:14 am #

    OK, I’m a little bit (a lot) angry with you right now. Why did you have to show the calde calde? Yeah, I could run up to the bar for a brioche, but that’ll just make me more sad I think 😉

  2. kataroma July 13, 2007 at 12:30 pm #

    I heard good things about that place from some very picky Italian friends. I’ll have to try it out one of these days.

  3. jessica in rome July 13, 2007 at 1:09 pm #

    There is a brek cafe in the new mall out here in the country. I have seen this place in largo a few times and was curious, but I’ll go in on your recommendation now. It looks really cute inside!

  4. Giulia July 13, 2007 at 1:27 pm #


  5. my melange July 13, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    Oh Shelly,

    Why oh why are you rubbing it in….that food looks so amazing…now I am hungry! 🙂

  6. romerican July 13, 2007 at 2:02 pm #

    thanks for being my guinea pig, shelley!!! i’d been meaning to test out this place because it looked promising but i wasn’t sure because it’s in such a touristy spot. but i will surely go get me some grub there soon (=

  7. Michelle July 13, 2007 at 2:24 pm #

    We have them in Milan too. Their pizza IS good and the wait staff very, very attentive. Often they are Neapolitan and are very funny and gregarious. The pasta is also good here and they have that yummy Neapolitan fried dough appetizer. The same group has another chain called Anema e Cozze that does seafood (and also has the same pizza ovens) that people rave about as well. Though I don’t eat seafood so I wouldn’t know.

  8. Lisa July 13, 2007 at 3:28 pm #

    mmm wow that place sounds fantastic! And the pizza looks just like the pizza I had in Napoli at Pizzeria da Michele!!

  9. Dena July 13, 2007 at 4:45 pm #

    Shelley, Your blog makes me hungrrrry for Italy! When I do finally make it to Rome, my whole trip will be organized around places to eat!

  10. Shelley, At Home in Rome July 13, 2007 at 5:53 pm #

    Sognatrice: *Forgive me*! I don’t doubt the goodness of the brioche in your neck of the woods, but I have to say that very few things (in my book) compare to my new discovery of calde calde.

    Kataroma: Hope you like it, and hope you don’t find any “silly hot goose” pizza on the menu.

    Jess: I actually liked Brek, I used to go there every once in a while on my lunch break, it wasn’t bad. I don’t know why they closed, but the rent on that property has got to be astronomical. In fact I’m a little curious to see if this new place will last because they have so many staff members, I don’t know how they can afford it!

    My Melange: Sorry!! I know, I was getting hungry all over again simply writing the post!

    Romerican: I usually avoid the chain-type places too, but this turned out ok.

    Michelle: While I was waiting for my friend, I met the manager and we chatted for a while… he was from Naples and super friendly and funny. He kept checking up on us because I introduced him to my friend who is from a little town not far from Naples… you would have thought they were long-lost relatives!

    Lisa: I’ve never tried da Michele in Naples but have heard wonderful things about it. We always end up at Lombardi a Santa Chiara but next time I want to branch out.

    Dena: Organizing your Italy trip around food is not a bad idea at all. Eating well and finding local specialties is always a big part of our travels.

  11. nyc/caribbean ragazza July 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm #

    Shelley, in February I was walking to “my bank” on the corner and I noticed Brek was closed. Looking forward to trying out the new place.

    That calde, calde….words escape me.

  12. Shelley's friend July 13, 2007 at 6:54 pm #

    after readig Shelley’s blog I could not resist from just saying something…even though I have not much to say….well, I am the “calde calde” friend, the Southern Italian! The one who used to have a “zeppola” (real name of the “calde calde”) on the beach when he was a kid…..well, I just wanted to tell everytbody that the best food in Italy is from CAMPANIA!!!!

  13. sognatrice July 13, 2007 at 7:09 pm #

    OK, well if it’s “just” a zeppola, I can make the darn thing myself…and have many times, only without the Nutella. I’m on it! Grazie mille, Amico di Shelley!

  14. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy July 13, 2007 at 9:58 pm #

    So Michelle/Shelley, it’s the same place as up in Milan? We went there a few times but unfortunately we didn’t have the experience it looks like you had…I’d be willing to try this one in Rome, though! On a side note, have you tried Anni Cinquanta? Also Napoletano and good pizza – near my old work – XX Settembre.

  15. Shelley, At Home in Rome July 13, 2007 at 10:12 pm #

    Sognatrice: Zeppole… the mystery is revealed. Make sure to post your creations.

    Sara: I’m glad Michelle mentioned it’s in Milan because on their website it only lists places south of here. Anni Cinquanta… never heard of it. Very intriguing…will have to try one of these days.

  16. sandi @ the whistlestop cafe July 14, 2007 at 6:05 pm #

    Looks good~ I’m likely to get to the London location before I’m headed to Rome.
    In the mean time I will just have to make my own pizza. The picture helps!
    Now off to check that limoncello recipe =D

  17. Ash July 14, 2007 at 9:19 pm #

    Oh! I am so envious! It sounds gorgeous! I think I need to come visit Rome and try it out. When is the best time to come? 😉

  18. Delina July 14, 2007 at 10:49 pm #

    There’s a Rossopomodoro not far from me here. It was revamped a couple of years ago ans since then it’s been really good service and food wise. The desserts are fab too.

  19. Jackie July 15, 2007 at 8:38 am #

    yummy pizza! makes me laugh about your wait staff though…did moving the olive oil bottle work the second time 😉 ?


  20. Avery July 15, 2007 at 6:42 pm #

    i’m not really one for chain restaurants either but this one I will have to try. That pizza looks absolutely divine. And I’m drooling over the zeppole with nutella. My oh my. yum.

  21. Isabelle July 16, 2007 at 4:27 am #

    Hi Shelley !
    Just a quick look at your blog from Australia, where I am on holidays, to let you know that I’ve just sent you an email about an Australian family I’ve met down here who’s looking for an accommodation in Rome next January: I immediately thought of you !! They will email you soon.
    See you very soon in Rome !
    (and arrrrrg, these Nutella donuts make me drool all over the keyboard ;-))

  22. Andrea December 12, 2007 at 11:57 am #

    I lived in Roma for a bit, and this was one of my favorite restaurants (even if it is a chain). I’d highly reccommend the four cheese pizza, YUMMY! Also, if you can get a table on the second floor in the back, you can see the kitchen (through glass windows) which is kind of neat.

  23. maria johnston March 8, 2010 at 5:53 am #

    I have been searching for someone who sells Crema Di Meloncello in the USA ever since I had it in Roma! I bought a bottle and brought it back home with me thinking surely they will ship to the USA Il Faro does not! and i have not found anyone who does! If anyone knows where I can get some please feel free to let me know! I have been searching for 6 months now……
    molto grazie

  24. Pat Beckett August 16, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    O.K. you have won us over what is the address of this place. Going to Rome in September and have been to a Rosso Pomoro before and loved it. We are staying near the Spanish Steps is there one near us?

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