It’s going to be a while before we can properly assess the damage that the pandemic has wrought on everyone. One heartbreaking closure during 2020 was the fall of one of the City of Angels’ best Pizzerias, the best Roman-Style Pizza around in Il Romanista. Chef-Owner Luigi Roditis had been quietly putting out stunning rectangular slices of Roman-style Pizza in a nondescript strip mall. But since a large portion of his business relied on nearby office buildings during the weekdays (and everyone was working from home), Il Romanista closed permanently.
Flash forward to 2021, and Pizzaiolo Luigi Roditis has found new business partners and opened up Roca Pizza, currently in pop-up mode at The Americana in Glendale(!).
Walking into the space, and we suddenly realize this was the former space of The Tsujita Ramen (Tsujita’s largest branch in L.A.). I had no idea they also were forced to close in 2020. Sad.
There are no indoor tables setup yet, but there are outdoor tables to eat at. You’re greeted by a long display case showcasing the initial opening menu for Roca Pizza, featuring some familiar flavors from Il Romanista, but also many new flavors!
As before, you order the slices you want (or a whole sheet / whole Pizza), and they will reheat the slices to enjoy.
We chose Luigi’s top recommended flavors:
Bell Pepper Pizza (Vegan) (Tomato Sauce, Roasted Red & Yellow Bell Peppers, Balsamic Glaze, Basil, EVOO):
Don’t overlook this Pizza just because you see the dreaded “V” word: Folks who’ve tried Chef Luigi’s vegan offerings at Il Romanista can attest to his mastery of vegetables and meats for creating glorious Pizza flavors.
The new Bell Pepper Pizza is nothing short of spectacular! Inherently vegetal with some slight Roasted Bell Pepper sweetness, his Tomato Sauce at Roca is balanced (not too sweet, nor overly tart like some versions), and the fresh Basil, Balsamic and EVOO just meld this all together.
But then you hit the crust:
Crunch, crunch, crunch! WOW.
Pizzaiolo Luigi’s new Roman Pizza crust for Roca Pizza is even better than his version at Il Romanista! Chef Luigi mentions that he experimented and worked on improving his Pizza crust during the time off, and is now using an American Organic Wheat Flour and cold ferments it up to 72 hours. It is crispy-crunchy and glorious.
Asparagus & Goat Cheese Pizza (Asparagus Puree, Asparagus Spears, Mozzarella, Laurel Chenel Goat Cheese, Red Onion, Mint, EVOO):
A new flavor at Roca, this is stunning: You get the immediate fragrant, pleasing Asparagus Puree and Spears, but then the creaminess from the Mozzarella and the light funk from the Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, nice bright Red Onions and Mint, and the crispy-crunchy crust. Outstanding!
Italian Sausage & Potato Pizza (Housemade Italian Sausage, Mozzarella, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Fried Rosemary, EVOO):
Good flavors, the Housemade Sausage is meaty, porcine and not overly salty. Nice zestiness. The Yukon Gold Potatoes do not overwhelm the Pizza (it’s easy to imagine the starchiness just sitting heavy), but it’s lovely.
Soppressata & Burrata Pizza (Tomato Sauce, Soppressata, Mozzarella di Stefano Burrata, Basil Parmigiano Oil):
Chef Luigi’s current favorite, and with good reason: The Soppressata is legit: Deep porcine funk in each bite, real depth of flavor, and then the Basil Parmigiano Oil hits, so Spring-like and bright and then creamy, pleasing fresh Burrata, and the incredible new crunchy-crisp Pizza crust!
Italian Sausage & Cremini Pizza (Housemade Italian Sausage, Cremini Mushrooms, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mozzarella, Red Onion):
That delicious Housemade Pork Italian Sausage, meaty, not salty, savory, and deep aromatic Roasted Cremini Mushrooms and double Cheese with Red Onions and the fantastic crust. Highlight of the meal! It is so good!
Mixed Mushroom Pizza (Cremini & Porcini Mushrooms, Provolone, Mozzarella, Parsley):
Truly deep Mushroom flavors permeating every bite! There’s such depth of flavor, earthy, deep forest flavors, that crave-worthiness. Stellar Pizza and reminiscent of Il Romanista’s Mushroom Pizza, but better.
There’s no worry if Chef-Owner-Pizzaiolo Luigi Roditis still has the skills or not: His new endeavor at Roca Pizza captures and exceeds what he did at Il Romanista and delivers an even better Organic Pizza Crust. The result is the restoration of great Roman-style PIzza in L.A., and a treasure that was lost to COVID-19 is now restored.
Roca Pizza and Chef Luigi is making incredible Roman-style Pizza squares, stunning flavors, incredible crispy-crunchy crusts and interesting flavors. He mentioned that he’ll be able to keep this Roca Pizza pop-up at the Americana in Glendale if there’s enough business, so hopefully folks can stop by and support one of the great Pizzas in this region. I’m already planning a return trip.
(at The Americana in Glendale)
889 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210