Rocca Pizzeria has spoiled us, with Neapolitan-style pies prepared with quality ingredients and painstaking attention to detail. Those details start with a dough made daily using the old school “biga” method, which combines double zero (00) Italian flour with sourdough starter to achieve something nutty and complex. Eased into the 900° belly of an imported Acunto pizza oven, the emerging pies are a study in rustic sophistication.
“In my travels, I had always sought out real pizza like the kind you find in Naples,” Rocca founder Ozzie Fernandez says. “There’s something magical about it. I felt like Baton Rouge had a pizza gap, and that we needed something like this.”
Back in 2018, Fernandez, who also owns Izzo’s Illegal Burrito, Lit Pizza and Modesto Tacos Tequila Whiskey, had been toying with the idea of a Neapolitan-inspired concept. At the same time, the restaurant space briefly occupied by Goûter on Government Street became available.
“The landlord was showing it to me for another location of Lit, and a lightbulb went off,” Fernandez says. “I thought, ‘This is the right place for something different.’”
Rocca, Italian for fortress or castle, was born. The energetic Mid City spot rounded out its interior with a red Vespa, a Ray Charles mural and a clear shot of the Acunto, made to order for Fernandez with “Rocca” spelled in a metallic mosaic. In a short time, the restaurant has built a following with its red- or white-sauced pizzas, homemade garlic knots (which nearly every table orders), antipasti and more. Early on, Fernandez hired New Orleans chef Alon Shaya’s Pomegranate Hospitality to help him plan the menu and train staff, a relationship that recently yielded Rocca’s executive chef, Cara Peterson, former chef de cuisine of Shaya’s Saba Restaurant.
Atop Rocca’s pizzas, refreshing combinations of toppings harmonize effortlessly. Take the Pistachio, a sultry meet-up of smoky bacon, creamy mozzarella and tender slices of gold potato offset by woodsy rosemary and roasted pistachios. Then there’s the longtime favorite, Iverstine, named for local cured heritage pork from Iverstine Farms offset by slivers of peppadew peppers and a drizzle of honey.