Posted on Fri, Nov. 04, 2005

Rocco's Wood Fired Pizza
We'll take it
Rocco's Wood Fired Pizza


Nobody quite seems to remember when we had really great pizza in Fort Worth. Mike Salerno baked a good pie, but he quit a while back. Mama's Pizza was good in its day, too, but there's never been a place that offered the stuff you can get today from Rocco's.

As soon as I saw the menu at Rocco's, which occupies a storefront just west of Szechuan Chinese, I knew something seriously different was afoot. When was the last time you saw smoked shrimp, fennel, fresh basil or truffle oil among topping choices? Turns out the guy behind Rocco's is chef Barclay Ryall, whose work around here has included time in the kitchens at Michaels, Fizzi and Randall's, as well as at the Riviera in Dallas.

Ryall opened his new pizza shop in August, after searching the globe and finding just the right wood-burning oven -- a 7,000-pound baby -- in Australia. Then he developed his food program, which involves using high-protein, high-gluten flour in the dough recipe and allowing the dough to develop for 24 hours before making pizzas with it.

Sauces at Rocco's incorporate fresh herbs and several tomato varieties, another effort that pays off on the palate. Flavors are far livelier and more honest than those on most pizzas made outside of areas with Italian populations, and the thin, cracker-crisp crust is a welcome respite from the soggy, chewy mess we typically find around here.

I've had two successful dinners at my house recently from the Rocco's menu, which is all anyone can do: Rocco's is strictly a takeout operation, but residents in the 76107 and 76116 ZIPs can call for delivery. With the menu's choices of salads, pizzas, pastas and desserts, you don't need anything more.

Best picks so far have included the Florentine pizza ($11.99-$14.99), topped with a thick Alfredo sauce, bite-size pieces of grilled chicken, fresh spinach and sliced mushrooms; and the Mediterraneo ($12.99-$15.99), swept with basil-pine nut pesto and topped with kalamata olives, feta cheese, roasted red bell pepper and pieces of artichoke hearts.

My favorite create-your-own Mexican pizza came with a slathering of spicy-sweet mole and a scattering of grilled beef sirloin, goat cheese, pineapple and fresh garlic ($14.99-$17.99).

Ryall's pastas deserve notice, as well. One lasagna choice comes with roasted red bell peppers and smoked shrimp ($9.99), and the cannelloni is filled with a blend of cheeses and roasted veggies ($7.99).

Desserts ($2.99 each) include creme brulee, chocolate truffle cake, Key lime pie, cheesecake with caramel sauce and toasted pecans, and Lemon Chill cups.

Rocco's Wood Fired Pizza

5716 Locke Ave.

Fort Worth

(817) 731-4466

Pizza, pasta


Details: Open 4-10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 11 a.m. -

10 p.m. Sunday. Take-out/limited delivery only; major credit cards accepted.

June Naylor, (817) 390-7818