Last night we stopped by Cane Rosso down on Commerce Street to check out their inaugural Industry Night, wherein owner and pizzameister Jay Jerrier invites local chefs of note to design a pizza, occasionally work the 900-degree oven and generally schmooze with their fans, friends and family for a good cause.
And it just so happened that Cane Rosso's first celebrity chef was none other than Brian Luscher, chef and owner at The Grape over on Lower Greenville, which couldn't have been better--or possibly worse--timing, as the two restaurants were going head-to-head last night in our Eater Awards 2011 Restaurant of the Year poll. That's when things got nasty and, Jerrier alleged, a little bit cyber-fraudy.
And by "nasty" we mean "a little good-natured razzing." Standing behind his computer propped up on the bar, Jerrier exclaimed, "I'm trying to keep Luscher out of my Twitter account!" Come to think of it, this tweet ("seriously, Luscher is soooo dreamy") did seem a little out of character for a guy trying to win a Restaurant of the Year award for his own place. We put in our order for a Caesar salad with anchovies--you have to tell them you want anchovies, it is so, so beyond worth it--and the pie of the evening, Luscher's "Nice To Meat You."
Topped with house-cured meats from Luscher's own kitchen--bacon, hot coppa, smoked ham, sweet and hot Italian sausage--plus locally made Barking Cat Farms hot giardinera, a little bit of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and fontina cheeses, it was one of those dishes that makes vegetarianism seem downright pitiful. And we were warned of its deliciousness by none other than Steven Doyle Hisownself, making his way out the door. That's right, we totally got Doyled.*
Jerrier had his new master pizzaiolo Dino Santonicola running the oven so that Luscher had time to greet his fans, gathered around the pizza bar grabbing photos, hugs and handshakes. If it sounds like a schmoozy scene, it sure was. And it's all for a good cause: at the end of the month, Jerrier told us, they'll tally up the takings from all the celebrity pies and dole out the money to chefs' charities of choice or to the Deep Ellum Urban Gardens. Cane Rosso will match the donations.
In November, Cane Rosso will be featuring: Chad Houser and Janice Provost from Parigi, Randall Copeland from Restaurant Ava, Jack Perkins from Maple and Motor. They've just announced their December chefs, too: John Tesar, Dean Fearing and Daniel "BBQ Snob" Vaughn. January and February chefs are booked but not yet announced--Jerrier says they've got enough to take them through their one year anniversary already.
*To be "Doyled" is to be dining or drinking in a local establishment and spot the ubiquitous Steven Doyle out pounding the pavement for scoops. It's like spotting a unicorn, if unicorns hung out in all the bars and restaurants you hang out at like every night of the week.