I walk by Rocco’s a hundred times a week. It’s across Burnside from Powell’s, and semi-attached to late nite haunt, Rocco’s Bar. I’ve never been in the pizza place, but was walking by today at the appropriate hour, and decided to try a slice. I glanced at the menu board, which was really no help, and the ever so (not) polite counterman pointed me at a blackboard, with today’s slices. OK.
I ordered a slice of “Texas” something, basically a three meat pie, and a small coke. $6.50. Did I hear you right? $5.00 for a slice of pizza and $1.50 for a 12 oz fountain coke?
I thought, this is either the best fuckin’ pizza in town, or there are no other pizza places within miles. Neither turned out to be true.
When you walk in the place, you’ll note on the door that the “restrooms are for customers only,” or maybe it’s “no public restrooms.” I really hate this about Portland merchants. I get it, but I still hate it. While I was at the counter, I noticed the restroom door and it had a large sign that said “key required.”
At most slice places (like Sbarro or Schmizza, for example), the counterman will take your choice and toss it in the oven for a couple minutes to bring it back to life. I assumed that would be the case here, as well, even tho I don’t give a rat’s about whether they do this, or not.
In any case, after I ordered, I said “may I have the restroom key while I am waiting?” His retort: “After you pay and complete your transaction.” Wow, “restrooms for customers only,” indeed!
I started to say, “well…” but the slice and empty beverage cup where in front of me and the dude was looking for my coin. I forked it over, and he gave me my change, slid the plate forward, and pointed at the bathroom key. I put the plate aside at the counter, and went to ‘wash my hands.”
Coming back to the counter, I picked up the slice, which was spread across two paper plates, because it was fairly large, but it’s also a marketing thing, too, isn’t it?
I filled my cola cup and went outside to the picnic tables to sit in the (seldom seen, but often rumored) Portland sun.
I was pretty happy to escape the innards of Rocco’s, it doesn’t give the appearance or comfort of being all that clean. We’ll see tomorrow if any signs haunt me that would confirm that. But cleanliness was non-existent at the picnic tables as well, with food and paper leavings from previous customers.
Other than size, Rocco’s pizza is nondescript. Standard food service precooked sausage crumbles, a smattering of processed cheese, an aerosol wisp of sauce, and a heavily cornmeal laden crust. Cornmeal, as you probably know, is used as a ‘crisper’ in a lot of pizzerias; some incorporate it in the dough, some merely use it as a bed for baking. Rocco’s seems to employ both methods, leading to some online reviews comparing the crust to being at the beach and eating sand.
I wouldn’t go that far. And I won’t go as far as Rocco’s again. Their complete menu is online, and they boast their large pizza will feed 8 adults. With a top price of $27.50 per pie, it damn well better feed 8. That’s a lot of dough for the dough. Unheard of these days.
In checking Google maps, it appears there are at least 8 pizza joints within a one mile radius of Rocco’s, including the Silver Dollar on Broadway, one I kinda like. So the theory I expounded on above, regarding there being a dearth of pizza nearby, isn’t true either.
Rocco’s charges the prices they do because they can, I guess. But damned if I can figure out why consumers are willing to pay. You know, I should have known how bad this was going to be. Any commercial business that chooses to use a domain ending with .ORG…..well, that’s says a lot, doesn’t it? Idiots.