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Roseland Apizza

350 Hawthorne Ave., Derby, CT - (203) 735-0494
Posted By Ed Mann on 3/22/2010 3:36:00 PM
Many say Roseland Apizza is "Nirvana in the Valley." With a cult-like following and good press, we had to try it. In a residential area, Roseland is hard to find. People speak of the charming, homey, family restaurant flavor. The interior is "old Italian pizza joint" or “country café” with many booths. Zero lobby or bar. You squeeze into a corner while waiting or clog the entrance/exit. People must run the gauntlet of those at the door to get on the waiting list or to leave. Arriving at 6:30, we waited, though they had empty tables in the next room. A waitress pointed and said, "That's your table." On it were three odd plates, three paper napkins, two regular forks and one salad fork.

The printed menu is sparse. Once seated it can be hard or impossible to read the chalkboard. Sparse, too, is the wine/beer selection. We ordered a $25 bottle of wine ($10 in a store!). They were out of some red wines. They offer nine reds and three whites. They offer some by the glass; six bottled beers and six on tap. Nothing fancy except draft Sam Adams.

A sliced boule of ordinary, cold bread was brought with cold butter. The bread was very cold in the middle. There was a long black hair cooked into the loaf. The zuppa de clams broth was super-salty and inedible. The $20 dish sat under heat lights so the clams were partly dried out and tough.

We wanted a shrimp with prosciutto pizza. The waiter immediately asked us if we had been there before. The pizza was going to be $42! The pizza was very much like in New Haven, with a thin, crisp crust. With 20-25 butterflied large shrimp and a little prosciutto on it, they were skimpy with at least the cheese and sauce. The pizza was quite good; the shrimp were obviously fresh.

The sausages with penne and marinara sauce were probably the best Italian sausages I have eaten. The high quality meat was chopped (not ground), and had a wonderful flavor. I was surprised the marinara had little visible oregano or parsley. They melted a very good cheese on top. For the price, and the voluminous amount of pasta, we felt they skimped on the amount of sausage. This came with a high quality salad. The house vinegar and oil was very good and applied in just the right amount.

We three dropped $129; no dessert and one bottle of wine! We poured our wine and weren’t offered anything else to drink when we ran out. They were slow to remove dishes and we never got clean plates, fresh forks, or additional paper napkins during the meal. One meager napkin apiece. You can’t charge tips to your credit card. What?

With prices equaling better New Haven restaurants, we thought we deserved more. The food may be made with good ingredients and some portions are large, but it’s expensive for a no-frills, low-overhead joint with “pizza joint” service.

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Scorecard

2 - Overall: Good - Worth a Return
Overall: Good - Worth a Return
Pizza
Bread
Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza
Zuppa da Clams
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

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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