Brooklyn’s Best Pizza was the model for this hip South End pizzeria that serves up NYC-style pies in a converted 20th-century bakery and soda fountain. That historic background, says Reverol, is what keeps him coming back—particularly the 100-year-old wood-burning oven in the kitchen. “I don’t know if it’s a placebo effect, but I think their pizza tastes amazing just because of that.” A perfect night at La Rosa for him begins with the zesty arugula salad (“the best I ever had in my life”) and the white pizza, made with three kinds of cheeses—mozzarella, ricotta and pecorino—and topped with caramelized onions and sesame seeds. Pair all that with a cold one (or three) from nearby Mt. Vernon brewery Diner Brew Co. “La Rosa is one of the only restaurants in New Rochelle that serves Diner’s beer and ciders, which are exquisite.”
If downtown Brooklyn and some charming small town in New England had a baby, it may look something like New Rochelle. Part up-and-coming cityscape, part diverse, tree-lined neighborhoods, the city is quickly drawing the attention of young artists, entrepreneurs and growing families looking to lay down roots in more low-key (and affordable) environs while still being within view of New York City.
That’s what attracted former Manhattanite John J. Reverol, 35, here 10 years ago. He and his husband set up home in a historic-factory-turned-posh-loft-space, and only two years later he opened his own business, a trendy organic coffee shop downtown called R Cafe & Tea Boutique.
Today, New Rochelle is on the rise, booming with new skyscrapers, a bustling food and drink scene and new businesses seemingly popping up every day. But even with all the growth, he says, the town still takes time to love you back. “It’s not like Manhattan, where you are just one of the bunch. People are more kind here, they actually say hello to you on the street.”
Want to check out jovial New Rochelle for yourself? Here, Reverol shares some of his favorite spots to visit.