After having lunch in the village today, writers Bill Bruns and Kenny Turan were walking on Swarthmore when they noticed activity in ROCA Pizza.
“Let’s see when they’re going to start serving pizza,” Turan said.
Several pizzas had just come out of the oven and a waitress was cutting them up into large sample pieces.
The co-owner asked the two journalists, who have never been known to turn down free food, “Do you want to be our first customers?”
Though stuffed from lunch, Bruns and Turan polished off two pieces of barbecue chicken pizza and agreed, “This is really delicious!” They looked around for a possible dessert, but this is strictly a pizza and salad operation.
Upon returning home, Bruns emailed Circling the News and urged the editor to hustle up to ROCA’s and write a “breaking news” type of story.
Within an hour, this editor was enjoying a piece of the soppressata and burrata pizza and had to agree: the flavors were incredible and the crust extraordinary.
ROCA will continue to have a soft opening on Friday afternoon and into the weekend, before opening for business on Monday around 11 a.m.
Do you need more recommendations beyond three journalists?
Listen to Matthew Weinberg, the executive chef of nearby Angelini Ristorante & Bar, who was sampling on Thursday, too.
“I would definitely recommend this pizza — it’s delicious,” Weinberg said.
ROCA is co-founded by Rick Rosenfield and his wife Esther, who discovered the Roman-style street food while on vacation in Rome.
Fifteen varieties of pizza are listed on the website (rocapizza.com). In addition to regular offerings such as a barbecue chicken and a margherita, there’s a Thai chicken, a mixed mushroom, an eggplant & Kalamata olive tapenade (which this editor is dying to try) and a pepperoni hot honey.
There will also be a variety of salads that customers can take home, making it a quick meal-stop for busy parents. Rosenfield said the pizza will be sold at room temperature, so that people can take it home to heat.
Rosenfield was asked why the crust was so exceptional. “It is made through a cold-long formation over three days. This is a high-hydration dough (very moist),” he said, and then pointed at the ovens. “Those are the Rolls Royce of Italian ovens, highly specialized for this type of pizza.”
The deli meats used on the pizzas are 100% free of antibiotics, hormones and steroids.
The Rosenfields, who live in Brentwood, met on a flight, when Rick was a practicing attorney and Ester a flight attendant.
In 1985, he and fellow attorney Larry Flax traded law for the restaurant business, founding California Pizza Kitchen in Beverly Hills.
Years later, in 2016, the two men developed and operated the popular seafood-centric Bottlefish in Brentwood. Before falling victim to shutdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, the restaurant had a loyal customer base and was recognized by USA Today as one of the top 10 seafood restaurants in the United States.
The Rosenfields were asked why they decided to open in Palisades Village. “This is the center of attention on the Westside,” Rosenfield said, “and Palisades Village is our favorite spot on the Westside.”
ROCA is located at 1061 Swarthmore Avenue, between Porta Via Palisades and Paige clothing store.
My partner and I walked by yesterday evening hoping to grab slices for dinner but there was no sign of life. Is the soft opening only during the day?
That’s my understanding that the soft opening is in the afternoon.