The rumors of The end of the COVID era in the city center could be grossly exaggerated. At least that’s what the Anthony and Haley Sitek couple are betting on.
Next week the couple will be opening a new pizzeria and cocktail joint that will be dubbed Rosie’s cocktails & pies, which is located 300 E. Seventh St., Downtown. Their hope is that it will be a hangout for happy hours, take-away dinners and, once the workers get back downtown, hungry crowds for lunch.
“The name Rosie’s comes from my wife’s name, Haley Rose,” said Sitek, a New Jersey native and co-owner, along with Haley of downtown Crown Republic gastropub and Chicago-style steak and pasta restaurant Losanti in Over-the-Rhine.
“My motivation behind eating at this restaurant is my family,” said Sitek. “I wanted to bring to Cincinnati some of what I loved growing up on the East Coast.”
The restaurant focuses on Trenton-style tomato cake brought to America by Italians who immigrated to Trenton, New Jersey in the early 20th century, and opened popular pizzerias like Joe’s Tomato Cake, which opened in 1910, followed by Papa’s Tomato Pie in 1912 and finally DeLorenzo in 1938.
Don’t make a mistake. Even if you haven’t heard of it, this is a venerable style of cake. In fact, Joe’s is widely considered to be the second oldest pizza place in the United States after Lombardi’s, which opened in Manhattan’s Little Italy in 1905. And they have their own style.
“Compared to any other kind of pizza, Trenton tomato cakes are pieced backwards,” wrote Jill Capuzzo of New Jersey Monthly in 2010. “Cheese and toppings go on first. Then comes the tomato sauce – seasoned, shredded plum tomatoes. Be precise – with the characteristic flair of the individual pizza maker. “
Sitek said he learned the art of making a proper tomato sauce with Trenton cake in New Jersey. “The tomato in this sauce speaks for itself,” he said. “It’s a simple combination of canned San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil and salt. It tastes like a very fresh, ripe tomato taken straight from the vine.”
The toppings include everything from the tried and true (hot peppers and mushrooms) to high quality options like truffle oil, white sauce, and homemade mozzarella. Sitek describes the crust of spring wheat bread flour in a similar way to New Haven-style pizzas: a little thin, a little chewy and wonderfully rustic and bubbly. For those who like a little more bubbles, Rosie’s cakes can be ordered either regular or “well done” (meaning they’re just a little bit burnt). Either way, “every bite should crunch a little,” Sitek said.
In addition to pizzas, Rosie’s also offers an antipasti salad with ham and salami rollups, wings in four different styles, and what Sitek calls fun cocktails. “No tiki fun,” he says quickly, “but fun.” There will also be plenty of cola products and eventually Abita root beer on tap.
“Rosie’s is family-friendly and open to everyone,” said Sitek. “Our goal is to pass on some of our family roots to the friends and family we have made here in Cincinnati.”
300 E. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-246-2472, rosiescocktailsandpies.com.