Pizza Returns to Downtown

Growing up in the Chicagoland area, with grandparents living in Brooklyn, I consider myself an equal opportunity pizza eater.  I appreciate the taste, large tomatoes, and large toppings of the Chicago-style.  But I also enjoy the cheese, crispier crust, and ease of the New York-style.  

I, along with many residents of the core neighborhoods, have mourned the loss of a downtown pizzeria.  A place that was more than just a restaurant.  A place that was a teen hangout; a place where the hockey team went after practice; a place where the pie comes out quick to feed the screaming children.

That is why I was honored to have 9.SQUARE design Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria and La Dolce Vita.  Announced by the Post-Bulletin last week, we are ecstatic for the return of an "authentic neighborhood pizzeria" in downtown Rochester.  

The design is meant to evoke the old world pizzerias from the Boroughs of New York with a nod to the legacy of Italian immigrants creating the business as their livelihood.  Not only that, but with a separate coffee bar and pasticceria, the space would serve patrons all day long.  From the early risers looking for an espresso, to the night owl in search of a drop dead tiramisu.  This space will be accessible for families, couples, and professionals.  Come as you are and enjoy some authentic comfort food.

Pasquale Presa (the eponymous executive chef) is a delight to be around and work with.  Many in Rochester are already familiar with his creations and others are ready to discover them for the first time.  As a fellow Folwell Falcon parent, he is literally a neighbor.  I have been working with Pasquale for well over a year to get his vision put together into reality.  And now we are surrounded with a team that is very strong and dedicated to seeing this through completion.  

Pasquale's will occupy the principal corner suite on the ground floor of the brand new 501 on First apartment complex.  It has a large set of doors on the NE corner of the block and there is space for an outdoor patio.  The entry to La Dolce Vita is along 5th Street a little further west.  

Image of 501 on First courtesy of CRW Architecture + Design

Image of 501 on First courtesy of CRW Architecture + Design

We focused heavily on how the patrons would view the space from outside (walking along the street, enticed to enter), approach the pizza counter, and move through the space.   Pasquale sent hand sketches with notes and comments throughout the design process to create several iterations of layouts to determine the optimum kitchen equipment line.  With such a large height/volume it is also crucial to bring the scale down to the human level as much as possible.  We are still determining the best way to include ceilings, canopies, lights, and furnishings to establish this cozy environment.

View to the open pizza line/counter

View to the open pizza line/counter

View from the La Dolce Vita entry 

View from the La Dolce Vita entry 

This space will be starting construction any day, following on the heels of the grand opening of 501 on First. And when Thursday's on First wraps up and the cool fall winds make their way downtown, Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria will be firing up the ovens and keeping us warm and well fed.  

Who's hungry?!