Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits: A Review

I didn't learn, until I began writing this review, that The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits is part of a chain occupying Canada, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.   However, while I don't typically review chain restaurants, there are only 2 The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits in all of Oregon, so I figure it's not as if I'm reviewing the local Red Robin or Olive Garden.
Near the east edge of Hillsboro, Oregon, smack in the center of blocks of middle to upper income high-density housing, there sits an outdoor mall known as The Streets of Tanasbourne. Since the shopping center mostly features high end clothing, I don't go there often. Thus, I was unaware that Rose's Deli & Bakery had been replaced by a place called The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits until it was recommended to me.  

I knew the term "wood fired pizza" refers to a thin crusted pie being baked in a brick oven for extra crispness. Since it's a style of pizza I'd always wanted to try, I wasted no time in paying The Rock a visit. The interior of the restaurant is decked in steel, crumbling brick, and neon, giving it an industrial "Rock" & Roll-esc ambiance. Appropriately themed music (Eric Clapton, Brian Adams, etc...) completes the mood while an assortment of HDTVs broadcast a variety of sporting events, both in the dining room and in the bar.

It should be noted, while the place IS divided into a rear bar and a front dining room, to legally allow the presence of children, the overall feel of the place through out is that of a fun bar with food. Like any good bar, The Rock features a variety of appetizers.

Among their appetizers are such dishes as; Garlic Mozz Bread (Dough, brushed with crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, Pecorino Romano and topped with mozzarella then baked in their brick oven for $5.99), Rock Chips (Ruffled chips, deep fried to order and lightly seasoned with a choice of original, ranch or chipotle seasoning for $3.99), and Day Trippers (Six mini-sized pepperoni, sausage with mozzarella cheese or Jalapeno peppers, artichoke hearts, herb cream cheese and Mozzarella calzones, deep fried to a golden brown and served with a choice of dipping sauce for $7.49).

They also carry a variety of burgers, sandwiches, pastas, and chicken dishes including their; The Rock Burger (fresh lean beef flame broiled to the diner's liking and served on their signature bun with beer battered fries, 1/2 lb. patty for $8.79, or a 1/3 lb. – $7.79), BTO BLT (Garden fresh Roma tomatoes, crisp lettuce, brick oven baked peppered bacon and mayo on a focaccia roll for $8.29), Get Back Mac and Cheese (Cheddar, Mozzarella, Romano, and Jack cheeses accompanied by peppered bacon and mixed into a rich cream sauce, tossed with penne noodles for $10.99), and Chicken in a Basket (Beer-battered chicken made with their own Suicide Blonde Ale micro-brew, served in a basket along with beer battered fries and a side of BBQ for $9.99).

Of course PIZZA is in the name of the place, so I decided to have one of their nine inch (personal size) pizzas.  The Rock offers a design your own pizza option, featuring ingredients ranging from tradition pepperoni & sausage all the way to more gourmet options such as sliced almonds & crumbled bleu cheese.   Yet, I wanted to try one of their 20, or so, specialty pizzas.

I could have had their After Midnight (Italian meatballs, sweet sausage, black olives and oregano on top of our classic cheese pizza pie - 9″ for $11.79, 12″ for $16.99, 16″ for $22.99), their Flirtin’ With Disaster (Hot Italian sausage, Andouille sausage, caramelized onions, fresh crushed garlic and red chili flakes - 9″ for $11.79, 12″ for $16.99, 16″ for $22.99), or their Satisfaction (Garlic butter, mozzarella, Kalamata olives, sauteed spinach, red onions, roasted garlic, prosciutto, feta cheese and drizzled Italian dressing - 9″ for $11.79, 12″ for $16.99, 16″ for $22.99).

However, being a fan of both cream sauce and peppered bacon I chose their Bad to the Bone (A white cream sauce pie with Mozzarella and Romano cheeses, pepperoni, peppered bacon, ham and red onions topped with a peppercorn  ranch dressing - 9″ for $11.79, 12″ for $16.99, 16″ for $22.99).   When biting into the first slice, the first thing I noticed was the crunch of the wood fired cracker thin crust.   The pepperoni, peppered bacon, and hot red onion worked together to provide a nice kick of heat, while the ham and cream sauce delivered a welcome balance to the spiciness.  I can't say I was conscious of the peppercorn ranch, but it may have been adding a depth of flavor without being obvious.

I washed the pizza down with one of their own micro-brews, specifically their black as pitch Jump’n Jack Black, which they describe as, "A traditional ale that’s smooth and chocolatey without the heaviness.  (5.0% ALC/VOL.)"  Much like  Young's Double Chocolate Stout and McMenamins' Terminator Stout, I got more of a deep rich coffee flavor from the beer, rather than anything I'd describe as "chocolatey."  It went down smoothly though, and was delicious against the spice of the pizza.

I could have written my review at that point, but I felt like I needed to try one or two more things to really give the place a fair shake. So, I returned two weeks later for their Burger Man (Chipotle seasoned flame broiled angus beef with chipotle mayo, jack cheese, peppered bacon, tomato and crispy fried onions, 1/2 lb. patty for $10.49, or a 1/3 lb. patty for $9.49), Beer Battered Fries, and a Bloody Mary. Although seasoned with Chipotle, I could still taste the salty onion straws, peppery bacon, cool tomato, mayo, and even the char on the meat itself. What really impressed me though was the thick strong bun, which kept the load of toppings from collapsing the sandwich. Plus, the fries had a nice crisp slightly salty coating which went well with the burger.

My ONLY disappointment was with the Bloody Mary. I can see how, at a party place like The Rock, a person might enjoy their vodka to tomato juice ratio to be a bit higher than the standard 1 to 2 ratio (3 oz tomato juice to 1.5 oz vodka). However, I like the spicy tomato taste of the standard ratio.  What I got tasted almost entirely of vodka with an ever so slight tomato aftertaste, even after thorough stirring. Plus, there was no celery garnish for balance.

Be that as it may, The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits, at 2295 NW Allie Avenue, Hillsboro, OR 97124, is a fun place with plenty of good food and specialty beer to go 'round. All things considered, I give The Rock, Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits 9 out of 10 stars.
Bonus: Bloody Mary Recipe

This is just the way I like it.

  • 3 oz tomato juice
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • celery salt
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • celery stalk for garnish
  • Coat the rim of rim of a highball glass with celery salt
  • Build the first 3 liquid ingredients in glass over ice cubes
  • Add Tabasco & Worcestershire sauces & stir well
  • Garnish with celery
Bloody Mary recipe prints individually as page 3 for your fridge or recipe file.

1 comment:

  1. Hey James! Those pizzas sound TO DIE FOR! And thanks for the Bloody Mary recipe. Coming from you, I know it will be goooooood. Have a great week. :)