Rocco's has a lovely dine-in restaurant on Nawala Road, around the Rajagiriya side, that serves up really good wood-fired pizza, ravioli, lamb chops and tiramisu. They've got quite an expansive menu, with over 30 pizza toppings to choose from, and their staff is fast and attentive, making for a smooth experience overall. They're only open after 5 PM, so we dropped in for dinner.
You can really go to town with the toppings available at Rocco's, what with an abundance of pork products from bacon to pepperoni to parma ham, marinated lamb to smoked salmon, duck and, yes chicken. Our main gripe, though, was the pricing. A 9" pizza costs Rs 850 for Margherita and Rs 1300 for Salmone Affumicato (smoked salmon). So, we decided to go half-half and try out at least four toppings.
Behold, one half five cheese, one half parma ham. The Pizza Amore - Five Cheese (Rs. 600 for half of 9") was really creamy, with the ricotta coming through nicely. It's a combination of ricotta, blue cheese, parmesan, mozzarella, and, in addition to the usual four, emmental. If you're tired of the same old mozarella, the tangy, creamy (and not oily!) flavours on this are a treat.
The Prosciutto Crudo con Rucola (Rs. 750 for half of 9") was quite generous, with the piece of parma ham covering the whole slice, and a rocket leaf to each. I really love when a pizza has got fresh ingredients to it, and this one really works because of the rocket leaf. While priced at a hefty Rs. 1850, the 14" could be compared to the pizzas from Oro 1889. They may not use 00 flour here, but the dough is good enough to hold up the toppings and not take away from those flavours.
The star of the show, though, was the Salmone Affumicato (Rs. 650 for half). With some capers, onions and a lovely dill sauce, this one blew us away. The salmon shines bright, with just the right amount of acidity. There aren't too many onions, so those don't get in the way. We highly recommend it.
The other half on our second pizza was the Gorgonzola e Funghi (Rs. 575 for half) and it was quite disappointing. We couldn't taste the blue cheese, much, which made it out to be just mozzarella and mushroom. Too subtle to make an impression, we wouldn't order this again.
They've got a few options for drinks, hot and cold, so you can grab a cappuccino or a cafe latte for around Rs 350. We tried the Strawberry Iced Tea (Rs. 250) and it was actually quite good. Served just chilled, the flavour isn't synthetic, it actually tastes like there's strawberry juice in there. You can actually smell it.
I had the lime juice (Rs. 200), because I really like lime juice, and it was good. Not too sweet, but also not particularly tangy. Inoffensive lime juice and inoffensive price.
Dessert & Miscellaneous Gluttony
We tried the lemon meringue pie (Rs. 400) and it was good. The pastry itself is a bit hard, but the flavours are there. The meringue is nice and fluffy and you get enough of lemon to sate your craving. You can check out the desserts in the fridge by the entrance, and pick what looks best. We had a not so smooth experience with the cheesecake, so maybe skip that and try a tiramisu (Rs. 450).
Since we weren't in our usual neck of the woods, we called in a local, a resident of Rajagiriya, and decided to try the lamb chops (Rs. 1500) that were recommended to us by a friend. This one reminded me of the lamb chop we were served at Grande Gourmet, and it wasn't exceptional, either. They serve it well-done, and you can see that they've put some herbs into the preparation, which adds a bit to the flavour. The mash is alright, just creamy enough, and the sauce that comes with has a smokey flavour to it. It's quite pricey, though, and they have other meat dishes on their menu, but this was the only one we tried. Still not sure whether that's the way to go at Rocco's, if you're a regular diner, please do advise in the comments.
We also tried the Ravioli & Spinach (Rs. 1,100) which gives you the choice of mushroom or beef. We tried with mushroom and it was pretty good. The pasta itself was al dente, and the alfredo sauce was creamy, as it should be. I personally found the sauce to be a little sweet, and reminiscent of milk powder, but the others disagreed. Three people can share this one, and you get about 6 or 8 pieces.
Ambience & Service
Rocco's is a pleasant place to be. There's two ladies at the front office who welcome you if you make eye contact, and their staff seems well-trained and are quite attentive. They've got some space upstairs, too, but we'd recommend making a reservation if you're going with a group. It seems to do well with families, as we saw one happily going at their meal while we were there. The lighting is not very bright but very warm and yellow, with black and white photos of people eating pasta on the walls.
We liked that you see the cooks as soon as you walk in, working on the dough and firing up the pizza. They smile at you when you leave.
While it seems to be best suited for those who live around the area, Rocco's does really good pizza at a steep price. Honestly, the pricing is closer to Oro than any other pizzeria, and we're not sure if we could afford to dine here often. Still, if we do go back, the smoked salmon and the parma ham are the way to go. If you live in Nawala or Rajagiriya and haven't dined here, you definitely should. The 9" pizza is quite small, with only six slices, so you may want want to go with the 14" half-half. They also do delivery, which we've written about before, but they're better at their dine-in location.
Rocco's in Rajagiriya is yet another one of the many pizzerias that has gained popularity for its delivery. Their wood fire pizzas, while not terrible in any way, just aren't as good as some of our top spots.
The competition between pizzerias in Colombo has heated up over the past few years with the likes of Santore and Domenico's coming in with very competitive prices. Rocco's is slightly older than the aforementioned and they've gained quite a bit of popularity.
One thing we really need to give them props for is their menu, which is possibly the most extensive one we've come across. They've got any pizza you can think of whether it be Thai red curry, Moroccan lamb, smoked salmon and pretty much all the classic Italian pizzas. They also offer both 9'' and 14'' pizzas priced between Rs. 850 - Rs. 1300 for 9'' and about Rs. 300 more for the larger, which isn't too bad all things considered.
The salsiccia (Rs. 1100) which is chorizo sausage with mozzarella wasn't very impressive unfortunately. We're directly comparing it to the stuff from Domenico's since we had it recently and it just doesn't match up. This is mostly due to the chorizo sausage itself lacking in flavour and missing little things like a dash of oregano for aroma.
We also got the Bacaroni (Rs. 1150), which is a fun little word play at a bacon and pepperoni pizza. Gladly, this one was a lot better than the previous and it's always great to see actual bacon as opposed to facon (chicken bacon). Honestly, this one would taste great as long the ingredients are good. I mean look, it's bacon and pepperoni.
Risottos aren't something that we come across often in Sri Lanka, so we were interested to see how Rocco's seafood rissoto (Rs. 1250) would fare, since it can be notoriously difficult to do right. This one was actually a little tricky judge, since it was actually quite tasty. The problem though, was that the texture and consistency was completely wrong. The rissoto was really thick and the texture was actually more like mac n' cheese.
Rocco's has one of the most impressive menus we've seen from a pizzeria, but the pizzas themselves, definitely have room for improvement.
Rocco's is a relatively new pizza delivery service bringing authentic wood fire pizzas to your doorstep between 5 and 10 PM, every day. Note, no service at lunch. The menu is large, including over 30 varieties of Italian named pizzas - polle e funghi, capricciosa, quattro formaggio and so on.
Pizza, while hugely popular in Sri Lanka, has never really been one of our culinary fortes. But this isn't the fault of our pizzaiolos or because of the ubiquitous (evil) franchises - it's more our lack of access to the more delicious and delicate cured meats and cheeses - slim sheets of proscuitto, tangy chorizo, creamy ricotta; the emphasis on good ingredients, a drizzle of the right olive oil, a sprinkling of fresh basil - this is what marks the distinction between an Italian pizza and it's franchised, cheese-heavy variants. But in Colombo, finding decent cheeses or any kind of cured meat can be something of a mission impossible. There are rumours of a magical store in Battarumulla, or of finding the unfindable at Brana's, but even if the desired herbs and hams can be located in various crannies around the island, they rarely end up on the face of our pizzas.
The real problem with local pizzas is the bacon; bacon being something of a loose term in Sri Lanka, used to denote anything ranging from chicken ham to the actual thing. And this was the problem we had with Rocco's - the bacon. Bear in mind we only tried one pizza - so this isn't an indictment of the entire menu - but the bacon and cheese was a disappointment. I'd heard good things and was looking forward to it - this particular pizza coming specially recommended - but what arrived was not quite the gourmet, wood-fire wonder we expected. Fatty chunks of occasionally suspect bacon caked over with an oily, hardened mozzarella (Rs. 1250). The wedges (Rs. 300) weren't that great either - lumpy in the middle and soggy on the outside.
So this was a poor first experience, but it may just be due to the island's issues with securing eatable bacon. The menu is intriguing, containing promises of parma ham, blue cheese, rocket, ricotta - the exciting kind of ingredients we want to see on a pizza. So until next time.