Takeout Review: Rockaway Pizzeria

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: MAGGIE WEAVER

CP Photo: Maggie Weaver

“We do not serve ranch dressing with pizza.” I found this disclaimer on the bottom of the menu at Rockaway Pizzeria, a White Oak joint that specializes in New York-style pizza. For me, this statement solidified their commitment to the NY slice; I don’t know of any area in the eastern U.S. that is as committed to the ranch and pizza combination as Pittsburgh.

At a quick glance, the menu at Rockaway looks to be the same as any Pittsburgh pizzeria, which makes the ranch comment stick out even more. There’s a long list of pizzas, both Sicillian and New York-style, hoagies, the standard appetizers, and salads.

But look closer, and Rockaway Pizzeria begins to show its true colors.

The specialty pie menu is a chaos of good flavors. There’s the classics, of course, like cheese and pepperoni, followed by a margherita-style pie, smothered with vodka sauce; an artichoke pie, featuring mascarpone cream sauce and bacon; NY Strip steak, a mainstay on multiple slices; and one pizza modeled after lasagna. The further you read, the more unconventional it gets, coming to a peak with a Connecticut staple: the white clam pie. (Yes, it’s topped with actual clams.)

Though I wasn’t brave enough to order the clam pie on my first trip to Rockaway, I did go for two unusual styles: an upside-down, vodka sauce-topped Sicillian and The Frankenstein, a four-part pizza called their “sampler.”

Because I’m a sucker for a good crust, I went for the Sicillian pie first. The crust, maybe about a half-inch thick, was cooked to a beautifully-crunchy edge, caramelizing and punching with rich, salty cheese at the slightly charred — and deliciously bitter — corners. With every bite, the air-bubble filled crust sprung back into its original shape, like a squished sponge.

Upside-down meant that sauce topped the cheese, which kept the crust from getting too soaked. Vodka sauce gave the pizza a sweeter edge, so the pie wasn’t as hearty and rich as it can be with a normal red sauce. This worked well with the thicker crust and allowed the sharp cheese blend to cut through.

Outside of the square-cut Sicillians, all pizzas at Rockaway were 18-inch, eight-cut pies. I failed to grasp how big this actually was — not quite the level of Benny Fierro’s two-plate slices, but close. My Frankenstein pie was giant.

The Frankenstein was four-pizzas-in-one, the best deal any indecisive person could ask for. It featured two classics, pepperoni and cheese, along with their white pie and Greek pie.

Slices of the white pie, featuring mozzarella, ricotta, tomatoes, and typical cheese were top-notch, but I favored the pepperoni out of the four. The slices of pepperoni were perfectly cupped from the oven, with crispy edges. They added a bit of spice to the tomato-heavy red sauce, and gave the thin crust, which was the perfect balance of chewy and crispy, a bit of body.

I enjoyed the Greek pie, topped with feta, mozzarella, spinach, garlic, and olive oil, more than I anticipated. The feta spiked each slice with a hit of salt. But piles of heated spinach took away the flavor and left me wishing for less.

Traveling to White Oak for a pizza might seem like too far of a trek from city limits, but it’s worth it. If you made it to this point and you’re still not convinced, consider this: I am a shameless ranch lover. I’ve devoted whole paragraphs to ranch before. But not once while I was eating Rockaway slices did I think to go grab the bottle from my fridge.