Il Cane Rosso Settles Down

Dallas' favorite roaming pizzeria hits and misses in new home.

What's left to say about Il Cane Rosso that hasn't already been said?

The name and product were Dallas institutions long before the new Deep Ellum storefront opened for business this year. Il Cane Rosso was Dallas' esoteric floating pizzeria, setting up shop at Chocolate Angel and Times Ten Cellars long before the "pop-up restaurant" concept became a trendy phenomenon.

With the restaurant's opening, the question is what happens to a freewheeling (so to speak) eatery once it becomes a fixed dining establishment. Despite the brand familiarity and the virtually intact menu, the restaurant offers ample area for exploration.

Jay Jerrier's pizza oven did best when producing simple pies.
Sara Kerens
Jay Jerrier's pizza oven did best when producing simple pies.

Location Info

Map

Il Cane Rosso

2612 Commerce St.
Dallas, TX 75226

Category: Restaurant > Pizza

Region: Downtown & Deep Ellum

Details

Il Cane Rosso 2612 Commerce St., 214-741-1188, www.ilcanerosso.com. Open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday. $-$$.
Burrata $12 Pasta of the day $10-$15 Napoletana $12 Margherita $12 Prosciutto e Rucola $15 Capricciosa $15 Bella Mella $10 SíMores calzone $10

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First, there is the location. Deep Ellum practically craved a restaurant like Il Cane Rosso to arouse a sense of "dining-destination" resurgence. While a few other restaurants in the area—Lemongrass, Monica Y Alla, and Local—have been in the neighborhood for some time, the new addition provides a much-needed breath of fresh air. It's a casual restaurant suitable for everything from date nights to young families to special-event get-togethers.

The surprisingly spacious dining room has a polished bohemian feel to it, which befits the restaurant's location. The furniture—rustic wood tables and benches—is simple, but a marble winding bar top adds some refinement. There's not a full bar, but in its place is a decent wine collection displayed on shelves along the wall and several beers on tap (Firemans 4, Deschutes, Shiner, Rahr Ugly Pug, New Belgium Ranger) to go along with a bottled beer selection. There is a humble-sized patio, but most of the action takes place indoors. The recognizably red Il Cane Rosso wood-fire pizza oven is prominently the focal point of the dining room. A fun painting of a pig diagram lines the back wall.

Aside from the digs and aesthetics, there is also a new executive chef. Owner Jay Jerrier mans the pizza oven, but the person in charge of the kitchen is Matthew Reddick. With most of the menu remaining the same as it was before Jerrier anchored his oven, what additions has Reddick brought to the restaurant?

Broaching the subject with our server, he directed our attention toward the new fresh pastas, house-made daily. I dined twice at the restaurant over a span of two weeks, and both times I visited, the pasta was a tagliatelle with pork ragu. Fresh pasta is delicate and easily overcooked. Unfortunately, our pasta suffered that fate and was a gummy disappointment. Even if the noodles had been perfect, the ragu was bland, and what I had hoped would be a ground or minced pork was instead tough, diced chunks of pork shoulder.

Some great things came out of the kitchen too. Rosso's salads were bountiful and refreshing, but the real stunner was the divine burrata appetizer. This cream and mozzarella blend cheese was the best of any dish sampled. Luscious burrata sits atop sautéed bitter greens and is finished off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The three pieces of crostini served with the burrata weren't enough for the massive chunk of cheese, but our waitress happily brought out more upon request. Since she was bringing out extra bread anyway, I asked to try some bacon marmalade. I had spied the ingredient on the Delia pizza, but having already ordered so much, I wanted only to try the marmalade. I'm glad I did. The sweet and vinegary spread highlighted the smokiness of the bacon and made a felicitous impromptu pairing with the burrata.

Certainly, any review of Il Cane Rosso wouldn't be complete without talking about the pizza, but I bring up the pasta and burrata first because the difference in their quality sums up my experience at Il Cane Rosso. Over two meals, I ordered as much as possible, and even some of the pizzas were hit or miss.

Since the perfect pizza is in the eye of the beholder, I ordered a wide array and brought along company with varying preferences. What was glaringly noticeable to us all was that the less complicated the pizza, the more successful it was. After all, what makes Cane Rosso's pizza so adored is the Neapolitan-style thin and chewy crust (thanks to the imported 00 finely milled flour) and the high quality cheeses and toppings used. The trouble, however, is when they pile on too much of a good thing. Basic pies like the Margherita and Prosciutto e Rucola showcase the strengths, such as a killer tomato sauce and fresh ingredients. Pizzas with conflicting toppings such as the Napoletana (traditionally just tomato sauce, mozzarella and anchovy) defeated both the crust and taste buds. Anchovies and olives? My dining companion, an admitted salt fiend, couldn't finish more than one slice. The Capricciosa suffered similarly. Although the pizza's tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, basil, artichoke and olives are loyal to the traditional version, the heavy hand of artichoke and olives masked all other components of the dish. With these two pizzas, Il Cane Rosso should have taken the Coco Chanel route.

One exception to the less is better tenet, however, is dessert. After having tried the apple slice and caramel-drizzled Bella pizza, I lamented not ordering the sinfully chocolate- and marshmallow-crammed S'Mores calzone (a mistake I didn't repeat my second visit.) The Bella screamed of needing more, whether it was additional caramel or a heaping of powdered sugar.

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My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
Louise
Louise

Everything they serve is a variation on the basic margarita pizza. A less interesting menu I have rarely seen. We had a free taste at the bar and walked out.

Brad
Brad

Very right on review. Mirrored my experience as well.

rudekarl
rudekarl

Apparently Ms. Yang is a complete moron - go figure.

Mike Johnson
Mike Johnson

i would really like not to judge you rudekarl, but as a pizza guy i was not impressed, just because you enjoy something doesnt make it that good, every persons pallet is different some more refine than others but like i said im not trying judge

Mike3647
Mike3647

I do hope you guys have a search going for a new reviewer.

Pot2kettle
Pot2kettle

Kristy...curious....how did you have a bad brunch on a Sunday when they are not even open Sunday?

And parking...hmmm have you even been there to Deep Ellum lately, its not like if the parking lot is full that there are not plenty of meters around for street parking....or head next door to Adiars have a beer and tell them you will back after a pizza, I've never once encoutered a problem in doing this. Deep Ellum seems to now be very customer service orientated.

Having re-briefed myself on your previous reviews - perhaps you should stick in your "asian-fusion" corner and leave the pizza to others...that you know, actually go when they are open

Kristy Yang
Kristy Yang

Pot2Kettle- You're absolutely right about the days mix-up. I visited on a Saturday afternoon, and it was an honest mistake. I stand corrected. Thank you for pointing it out.

Emily
Emily

This lady is crazy. Their food and service is amazing and the desserts do not need anything else. They are perfect! I have probably tried everything on the menu and have never once been disappointed. I could eat Cane Rosso every day!

Elaine Poe
Elaine Poe

What was the point of creating a link for "Monica y Alla"? Clicking through the link yielded "Nothing was found that satisfied your request," not surprising since the search terms passed were "Monica Alla." Last I checked the name of the restaurant is "Monica's Aca y Alla." The article writer and copy editor need to be sent back for remedial proofreading training.

Cap Guy
Cap Guy

I thought it was me. Basic pizza the best, pizza with Jimmies Sausage, not great, pizza with arugala and prosciutto , not good...bitter and salty. Salads, good. Go Figure. The two for twenty deal for lunch is great and free parking on the street during the week.

JT
JT

One can only assume this was not intended to be a factual statement.

El
El

So are the sandwiches unavailable or are they cold? How did you go on an Sunday when that is a day they are closed?

Kristy Yang
Kristy Yang

Hi El, Absolutely right about the days, as I mixed up my Saturday with a Sunday. As for the sandwich, I ordered the sausage and peppers, which was available and which came out cold. I was noting how there were more sandwiches listed on the menu, but were not made available.

Emily
Emily

How did you go for a Sunday brunch if they don't serve a Sunday brunch?

Jjerrier
Jjerrier

All, please note that Cane Rosso is most definitely NOT open on Sundays nor is there a Brunch menu.

Kristy Yang
Kristy Yang

Hi J, I visited on a Saturday, not Sunday, but it's a testament to the restaurant that it was relaxing enough to have FELT like a leisurely Sunday brunch. As for "brunch," I didn't imply there is a brunch menu, as I only meant it was the meal before dinner, after breakfast, but not exactly lunch.

 
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