Angelo (A.J.) Pappalardo has cooked at Esca and Osteria del Circo, but his formative restaurant experience began at age 12 washing dishes and making pizza at his father Giuseppe's Staten Island restaurant, Joe & Pat's. "I always wanted to do something better, better, better," says Pappalardo. "And then I realized that the food I grew up with was already pretty great." (If you've ever tried the exceptionally thin-crusted pies at J&P's, you'll concede the point.) In that roots-embracing spirit, the Pappalardos, father and son, along with chef and family friend Al Di Meglio (another Staten Island native and Circo vet, who ran the kitchen at Olana) opened Rubirosa.
The long, rustic space is a next-generation Joe & Pat's of sorts, done up in turn-of-the-last-century style with reclaimed wood tables and tin paneling, old photos of the old country, barrel-vaulted wood ceilings, and a handsome bar. Pizza, cooked in the same Fish-brand revolving-shelf oven as at the mother ship, strictly follows the family recipe (slices available at lunch only). The non-pizza menu covers solid Little Italy ground with baked clams, stuffed artichokes, and mozzarella sticks. As for the name, it's after a favorite restaurant in Florence whose owners themselves named it for the jet-setting Dominican playboy Porfirio Rubirosa.Pizza Hour
The restaurant remains open all day, but only pizza served between 4 and 5 p.m.