More and more of my friends are migrating to Columbia Heights these days. Is it the Target? It can’t be Wonderland. No, I think it’s the great restaurants that are quietly opening there.
Take, for instance, Room 11, a hidden gem of a wine bar that also serves delectable food. Or how about Social, which has the most amazing happy hour bites, including a thick and juicy burger that’s worth every penny of its entire $4.
After these wins, I was all for it when one of my Bitches recommended we try Red Rocks Pizzeria for brunch. And, I’m not going to lie, the bottomless mimosas were calling my name.
Red Rocks is in an adorable brick row house on the corner of Park and 11th in the Heights. The patio is perfectly situated for people-watching. Inside, it’s cute and cozy—a tight squeeze when it’s crowded, but the wooden floors and lovely little bar make the dining area intimate. We were seated on the second level, probably because we had so many Bitches for brunch we apparently required an entire floor … right next to the bathroom.
We started with the melon and prosciutto app. It was drizzled with a little too much balsamic vinegar and the melon wasn’t as fresh as it could have been, but the dish was very pretty. In fact, it was the prettiest presentation of the entire brunch (besides dessert, but we’ll get to that later). The rest of the dishes tasted better than they looked.
I was looking forward to some fresh fruit to whet the palate, but the fruit bowls, like the melon, weren’t very fresh. But hey, we’re here for the pizza! Next we ordered the bruschetta. It wasn’t too garlicky or oily, and the bread was perfectly toasted and warm against the cold, diced tomatoes.
The brunch entrees were so creative—everything kept with the gourmet pizza theme. For instance, the scrambled delight had all the ingredients you would want in a fabulous pizza: Italian sausage, mushrooms, and parmesan. The pizza omelet had green peppers, onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, fennel sausage and mozzarella. Packed with a jumble of flavors, it was my favorite dish of the entire brunch.
But, my Bitches disagreed. They all insisted the French toast was the best. Supremely fluffy and served with a side of cream, the toast got passed around and devoured. It tasted a bit of cinnamon and brandy—so good.
The real coup was the pizza, of course. In true Neapolitan style, with a thin crust, the Sunrise Pizza was topped with fried eggs, potatoes, parmesan, olive oil and herbs. One of my Bitches topped it with mushrooms, which added a nice texture. Also, it wasn’t caked in heavy cheese and sauce, which is a nice departure from a normal breakfast pizza. Plus, it’s cooked in Red Rocks’ wood-fire oven.
I should mention that the restaurant cures its own meats and makes its own sausage. They also use locally grown produce and hand-made cheese. It’s this gourmet touch that puts the food a cut above the rest.
We kept it Italian and went for chocolate gelato for dessert. It was topped with fresh strawberries and strawberry drizzle, and rounded out the entire meal nicely. Man, I want to take that gelato home by the bucket.
The only downside to this brunch was the service, which was seriously meh. We repeatedly had to beg for attention. And, those bottomless mimosas came from a pitcher of mostly OJ stashed somewhere handy on the second floor. But, I have to give them credit for running up and down the stairs with huge, heavy trays of food to accommodate our large party.
The Bitches say: Solid B+. Gourmet, creative hangover food without the grease. Just work on the service.
Red Rock Pizza
1036 Park Rd. N.W.