|© 2007-2011 moderndallas.net. - all rights reserved.
|Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum
2612 Commerce Street
Dallas, TX 75226
Directly across from Twisted Root at the corner of
Good Latimer & Commerce
|Kerrie Sparks is the author of food-sparks.com and serves on the board of the
Dallas Farmers Market Friends
|Il CANE ROSSO
That’s pizza amore!
by Kerrie Sparks
Pepperoni? No. Ranch dressing? Hell-to-the-no. All the soppressata, fresh basil, grape tomatoes,
burrata, and Jimmy’s sausage you can shake a stick at? You bet, come and get it! Il Cane Rosso
owner, Jay Jerrier, moved here from Boston in 1997, two years after a trip to Italy burned an
impression of the best pizza he’d ever eaten squarely into his brain, where it would reside until
he was pushin’ pies out of a truck...and now, a storefront in Deep Ellum.
|KS: What is your background, or rather, why
true Italian style pizza?
JJ: I grew up in Boston as a typical meat
and potatoes guy, but our honeymoon
trip to Southern Italy in 1995 was a big
eye opener for me. I had "real" pizza in
Sorrento on the square at Pizzeria Aurora.
I was just blown away by the pizza, so it
became a quest for me right there. I’ve
had no formal cooking training, but I knew
I wanted to recreate that pizza back in
KS: Il Cane Rosso translates to, "The Red Dog"...
so, why name your place after your dog?
JJ: When I turned 30, my wife, Karen, got
me the world's greatest dog - Zoli, a Vizsla.
He had a beautiful red coat. I did
everything with him and he was loved by
all the neighborhood kids. We lost him to
cancer back in 2006, still the worst day of
my life, and my wife and I miss him every
day. When I was learning Italian, they
teach you the easy words first like colors
and animals. I thought Cane, dog, and
Rosso, red, sounded great together.
|KS: You may well have been Dallas' first food truck before 'food trucks were cool'. When you
finally decided to settle into a store front, what made you choose your Deep Ellum location?
JJ: The landlords, Madison Partners, were fans of our pizza from our mobile oven and tracked
me down at Times Ten Cellars one night. They asked me to come and check out a space they
had across from Twisted Root Burger Co. The spot was a mess but had great character with the
brick walls and rafter ceilings. I spoke to Jason Boso from Twisted Root and he had great things
to say about the neighborhood. It is pretty centrally located and easy to get to, and has
strong lunch business from downtown and the hospital. The location had lots going for it.
Madison Partners put a really fair proposal together and I just felt they really wanted to get
us down there and see us succeed.
KS: I'm thinking it was a bit of a challenge to lay out the design of the space with the way it curves
back to the left. But you've done a nice job of creating wood banquettes in a shotgun style along
the left-side with the new wainscotting, while giving diners a nice view of the open bar and pizza
oven against the exposed brick wall. It's a great way to see all of the activity, was that the idea?
JJ: I knew that I wanted the pizza oven to be the heart of the space, so everything flowed from
there. The seats at the pizza bar are the best in the house. Funny thing is that most of the design
elements, at the time we opened, were based on budgetary constraints and my contractor
telling me what I wanted was too expensive. Once we opened, we started tweaking the
space to make it more fun.
|KS: Did you oversee the design and build-out yourself?
JJ: Initially it was myself and the project team from Denco Construction Services. Then I had
help from a good friend, Christy Blumenfeld, from Blume Architecture, to pick colors and fixtures.
Otherwise I would have ended up with ten shades of brown! After we opened, Jesse Neargarder,
who had done work with my agency, greenlight, came up with the idea for the chandelier
and the chalkboard.
KS: What is the one material used that you felt was key to the design of the space?
JJ: The brick walls. When we first saw them, they were filthy and covered with plaster and
spray paint. Denco did an amazing job cleaning them up. I thought they looked great
with the wooden rafters in the exposed ceiling. I just really wanted a space that I thought
I would like to come and hang out in. There are lots of things we wanted to do - but we
really did stick to a strict budget.
|KS: I love the addition of the large Moulin Rouge style chandelier and the chalkboard walls
by the restrooms, what else do you have up your sleeve for the design of the space?
JJ: We have a few more tweaks, some more chandeliers for the back area of the restaurant
and some type of screen to hide the back kitchen from the tables at the back. These are
things we figured out once we opened. I wish I had done cushions on the benches
because we all sleep on those in between shifts.
KS: How important was it to have the outdoor space, besides the fact that you're obviously
a doggy guy?
JJ: For some reason, people like to eat pizza outside so having a big patio was also a big
drive behind picking the space. I love the fact that we have the giant tree too. The
highway overpass is kind of a drag, but it does provide some nice shade. We'll likely
add a fireplace this fall to finish up the space.
KS: Is it true you import the 00 flour in from Italy? What region?
JJ: Yes, we use Caputo "00" flour from Campania. It is milled near Naples and is a very fine
flour. This is critical because it can absorb a lot of water, which is a key element in
working with our oven.
|KS: The Bella Mella dessert pizza with the apples, mascarpone, caramel, and sea salt is fantastic! I
see you sometimes play around with bread puddings on a whim, so who drums up the dessert ideas?
JJ: It's a team effort at Cane Rosso - we make what we like to eat! The Bella Mela was born at a
catering event last fall when we were just messing around. My new obsession is the gelato
machine, we are having a lot of fun. Nutella Rocky Road is a big hit...our bacon gelato,
not so much.
KS: Soppressata or prosciutto?
JJ: Soppressata for sure! It crisps up awesomely in the oven.
KS: Websites/blogs you can’t live without?
JJ: SideDish, EatsBlog, Slice, PegasusNews, CraveDFW, Facebook, Twitter, Eater, I try to stay
up with all the local food sites. I could live without Yelp, but it's a fact of life.
KS: You're quite the social media guy...if you had to give up Twitter or Facebook for one week,
which one would it be?
JJ: I guess Twitter, but I'd probably cheat and use some consolidator apps like HootSuite or
KS: Last album you downloaded?
JJ: Ha, probably Selena Gomez or some Disney album for my kids! I did just import a Jackopierce
CD to iTunes. Cary Pierce played a private party at Cane Rosso and he was great.
KS: What is your favorite pizza on the menu?
JJ: Paulie Gee! But I mostly eat our lasagna, pasta, sandwiches or triple secret staff carnitas
tacos. We make awesome salsa verde.
|When the temperature outside decides to register something below that of the surface of
the sun, Cane Rosso’s patio with its reclaimed cobblestone pavers, basil planters, and exposed
filament cafe bulbs is a welcoming site. So is the “Fuggetaboutit” fellas mural on the exterior
walls, by Deep Ellum artist Frank Campagna (franksart.net). The sectioned pig mural adorning
the back wall of the interior space is by Alyson Thomas of San Francisco (meatsections.com),
who’s family resides in Rowlett.
|Jay’s crew burns through a half cord of wood each week in the custom 900 degree pizza oven,
(pizza’s take mere minutes to crisp up), CJ mixes gallons and gallons of fresh sangria, and
customers pour into this once dilapidated daiquiri dump for the best Neapolitan style pizza
in town. Go in knowing you’re going to order pizza, but also know that their Caesar dressing
is fantastic, and you can’t possibly leave without having dessert - they also have a s’mores
calzone. Oh yes, I said it! And Jay says the lasagna is his favorite, so I have vowed to try
that on my next visit instead of pizza...okay, maybe just a Delia or Emma pizza to go with.