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Roseland Apizza

350 Hawthorne Ave., Derby, CT - (203) 735-0494
Posted By Michael Stern on 1/2/2010 5:44:00 AM
In bread we trust.

A bread basket is a sure sign of a restaurant's personality; at Roseland Apizza (pronounce that second word the Neapolitan way, “ah-Beets”), you get honest bread with old-time character. Hard-crusted, with tender insides that pull into supple shreds, it comes to the table by the hemisphere, cut from a round loaf.

Bread is the beginning of every meal at Roseland -- a kind of pre-appetizer that's hard not to devour. But don't eat it all, we warn you! Roseland has so many other things you'll want to eat, from a broad menu of hand-cut ravioli, lasagna, various parmigianas, and the occasional pasatelli and cappeletti in broth from the proprietors’ homeland in Le Marche. Hot and cold antipasti are spectacular; and whatever else you eat, you must eat pizza when you come to Roseland, for this is one of the great pizzerias in Connecticut, ergo one of the best on earth. The crust is what connoisseurs know as New Haven style: thin but not brittle, with enough brawn to support all but the weightiest combinations of ingredients and to allay the pizza-eater's primal fears: slice collapse and topping slippage.

Baker Gary Lucarelli makes some spectacularly lavish pies, such as a shrimp casino topped with bacon, mozzarella, fresh garlic, and jumbo shrimp, and this is a good place to sample the relatively uncomplicated Connecticut classic, white clam pizza. Recommended configuration: no mozzarella, no tomato sauce, just a crowd of freshly-shucked Rhode Island clams strewn across a crust frosted with olive oil and scattered with bits of basil, parsley, and oregano, thin-sliced garlic, a twist of cracked black pepper, and a scattering of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. The nectar of the clams insinuates itself into the surface of the crust, giving every crunch exhilarating marine zest.

Roseland is known for serving huge portions. No one leaves without a handful of Styrofoam containers holding leftovers. Gary Lucarelli likes to see diners carry home his food. "They take it to their grandmother or aunt who can't get out," he beams, thinking of all the nice old ladies who have the opportunity to enjoy a Roseland meal at home. "Being in the [Naugatuck] Valley, we get people with good appetites,” he explains. “They come in and knock off a 'hot anti' then have their sauteed escarole and a sausage pie or a plate of ravioli." As he thinks of these good neighbors enjoying their big meals, he raises a wine glass in a one-word toast to all of them: "'Eat!' I say." He inhales the bouquet of the wine (which he makes himself), takes a sip, and repeats the toast that is his family's way of life and the soul of Roseland: "Eat!"

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Pizza
Arugula Salad
Hot Antipasto
Lasagna
Special Garlic Bread
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Tuna Pizza
Calamari
Shrimp & Spinach White Pizza
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Arugula Pizza
Bread
Shrimp Oreganate Pizza
Lina's Dessert
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Even an ordinary sausage and mozzarella pizza is something special at Roseland. The crunchy/chewy crust is a wonder of the culinary world.
"Even an ordinary sausage and mozzarella pizza is something special at Roseland. The crunchy/chewy crust is a wonder of the culinary world."
Michael Stern





Fra Diavolo is not listed on the printed menu, but it is a frequent star on the blackboard. It was a challenge to eat all the shrimp, but I managed to do so. That fork at the right of the photo is a normal-size one. This plate is huge!
"Fra Diavolo is not listed on the printed menu, but it is a frequent star on the blackboard. It was a challenge to eat all the shrimp, but I managed to do so. That fork at the right of the photo is a normal-size one. This plate is huge!"
Michael Stern


While Roseland has all sorts of great exotica on the menu, from lobster ravioli to clams casino pizza, you can't go wrong ordering the old-fashioned Italian classics. This plate of spaghetti and meatballs is well-nigh perfect.
"While Roseland has all sorts of great exotica on the menu, from lobster ravioli to clams casino pizza, you can't go wrong ordering the old-fashioned Italian classics. This plate of spaghetti and meatballs is well-nigh perfect."
Michael Stern


The blackboard menu advises that the arugula pizza is available only for customers eating at the restaurant: no take-out. The reason for that is evident when the pizza arrives. The base, a magnificently thin-crisp crust that doesn't begin to droop even at the point of a slice, is mounded with salad. The hot-and-cool, bread-and-veg, sweet-cheese-and-bitter-greens balances are a dazzling dining experience, but would not survive for long inside a take-out box.
"The blackboard menu advises that the arugula pizza is available only for customers eating at the restaurant: no take-out. The reason for that is evident when the pizza arrives. The base, a magnificently thin-crisp crust that doesn't begin to droop even at the point of a slice, is mounded with salad. The hot-and-cool, bread-and-veg, sweet-cheese-and-bitter-greens balances are a dazzling dining experience, but would not survive for long inside a take-out box."
Michael Stern


The blackboard menu noted that the tuna is Italian tuna, meaning that it's rich with olive oil and has real seafood character. Perked up with capers and laced with pieces of garden-fresh tomatoes and built upon a thin, crisp Neapolitan crust, it is yet another Roseland masterpiece. Oh, and that aromatic basil at the top of the photo is, of course, from the family garden.
"The blackboard menu noted that the tuna is Italian tuna, meaning that it's rich with olive oil and has real seafood character. Perked up with capers and laced with pieces of garden-fresh tomatoes and built upon a thin, crisp Neapolitan crust, it is yet another Roseland masterpiece. Oh, and that aromatic basil at the top of the photo is, of course, from the family garden."
Michael Stern


Fried calamari is a robust appetizer. Each nugget is sheathed in shattering-crisp crust.
"Fried calamari is a robust appetizer. Each nugget is sheathed in shattering-crisp crust."
Michael Stern


I forgot to count the number of shrimp strewn across this generous shrimp and spinach pizza, but it isn't so much the number that is amazing; it is their quality. They are big and muscular and radiant with luxurious flavor. There is no swankier pizza than this one.
"I forgot to count the number of shrimp strewn across this generous shrimp and spinach pizza, but it isn't so much the number that is amazing; it is their quality. They are big and muscular and radiant with luxurious flavor. There is no swankier pizza than this one."
Michael Stern


Super-duper garlic bread: topped with roasted peppers, prosciutto, and melted mozzarella.
"Super-duper garlic bread: topped with roasted peppers, prosciutto, and melted mozzarella."
Michael Stern


If I tell you that this pizza was $42.95 (market price, says the menu), you might think cost too much. Wrong. For one thing, there must be well over $20 worth of the plumpest, crunchy-sweet shrimp on earth piled atop it - so many that it is difficult to take a bite anywhere on any slice without getting some. This pizza easily will feed two people with enormous appetites, four who are only normally hungry. For me, the chewy, crunchy, fire-flavored crust is priceless.
"If I tell you that this pizza was $42.95 (market price, says the menu), you might think cost too much. Wrong. For one thing, there must be well over $20 worth of the plumpest, crunchy-sweet shrimp on earth piled atop it - so many that it is difficult to take a bite anywhere on any slice without getting some. This pizza easily will feed two people with enormous appetites, four who are only normally hungry. For me, the chewy, crunchy, fire-flavored crust is priceless."
Michael Stern


Typical of everything served at Roseland, this salad was gigantic, big enough to be an appetizer for two in the restaurant, then another couple of side-salads for two the next day. When dining at Roseland, eating leftovers the next day is an essential part of the experience.
"Typical of everything served at Roseland, this salad was gigantic, big enough to be an appetizer for two in the restaurant, then another couple of side-salads for two the next day. When dining at Roseland, eating leftovers the next day is an essential part of the experience."
Michael Stern


Listed on the blackboard as 'Lina's Dessert,' this lovely confection is a tile of Roseland's bread dough, fried crisp and flaky, topped with fresh fruit, cinnamon sugar, and just-whipped cream. That mint-leaf garnish comes from Lina's home garden.
"Listed on the blackboard as 'Lina's Dessert,' this lovely confection is a tile of Roseland's bread dough, fried crisp and flaky, topped with fresh fruit, cinnamon sugar, and just-whipped cream. That mint-leaf garnish comes from Lina's home garden."
Michael Stern


Every meal at Roseland starts with a basket of baked-that-day bread. It is dangerously delicious ... dangerous in the sense that it is all too easy to fill up on it even before your meal arrives. Many people get their leftover bread packed to take home along with everything else they didn't have enough appetite to eat.
"Every meal at Roseland starts with a basket of baked-that-day bread. It is dangerously delicious ... dangerous in the sense that it is all too easy to fill up on it even before your meal arrives. Many people get their leftover bread packed to take home along with everything else they didn't have enough appetite to eat. "It makes wonderful toast in the morning!" advised Carolyn, our waitress."
Michael Stern


An abundance of freshly shucked clams and snapping fresh shrimp make this seafood pizza unspeakably plush.
"An abundance of freshly shucked clams and snapping fresh shrimp make this seafood pizza unspeakably plush."
Michael Stern


I would say there were 20-25 succulent shrimp on this large pizza, but it cost $42!  We got it with red sauce and mozz.  Sauce and cheese was kinda skimpy.
"I would say there were 20-25 succulent shrimp on this large pizza, but it cost $42! We got it with red sauce and mozz. Sauce and cheese was kinda skimpy."
Ed Mann


Great sausage (chopped meat, not ground!) and a mild marinara without garlic and onion.  The marinara is nothing special.  I think that for $22 the dish should have another link of sausage.  There is quite a bit of pasta, but it's not homemade.  Pasta is very inexpensive.
"Great sausage (chopped meat, not ground!) and a mild marinara without garlic and onion. The marinara is nothing special. I think that for $22 the dish should have another link of sausage. There is quite a bit of pasta, but it's not homemade. Pasta is very inexpensive."
Ed Mann


A few take-home cartons of leftovers is typical of a Roseland meal. We were four healthy eaters, and all went home with more than enough for tomorrow's supper.
"A few take-home cartons of leftovers is typical of a Roseland meal. We were four healthy eaters, and all went home with more than enough for tomorrow's supper."
Michael Stern


Wow, what a menu! (This is in addition to the regular printed one.) On the left are specialty pizzas. In the center are the day's appetizers; at the right are entrees.
"Wow, what a menu! (This is in addition to the regular printed one.) On the left are specialty pizzas. In the center are the day's appetizers; at the right are entrees."
Michael Stern


Roseland was the first place in the Naugatuck Valley to serve pizza, in 1935. It's a hidden-away sort of restaurant you'd never accidentally stumble upon. But once you've found it, life is good!
"Roseland was the first place in the Naugatuck Valley to serve pizza, in 1935. It's a hidden-away sort of restaurant you'd never accidentally stumble upon. But once you've found it, life is good!"
Michael Stern



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