On most nights at the newly opened Rosie Pizza Bar on Central Avenue in Bushwick, it’s common to spot passerby entering and asking the same, peculiar question: “Oh wait, is Archie’s back?” After being handed a gentle – but firm – no, they generally stumble out, no less confused than when they came.
“You don’t know the number of times I’ve been asked that,” the bartender says, shaking his head, and the general manager Stacy – who formerly held the position a year ago at Archie’s – asks, in a tired voice, “is this going to be a story about Rosie or a story about Archie’s?”
Giulio Adriani, among the two owners of Rosie, which sits now where Archie’s used to be, is possibly the man least familiar with the pizzeria that shuttered last year – after over 30 women accused its co-owner of mistreatment and sexual misconduct.
“I wouldn’t know, I’ve never had Archie’s before,” Adriani says.
Adriani has his own pizza, and that’s what he’s making. The slices are thin, with a hard crust and soft at the center. Cheese and pepperoni pizzas are offered by the slice, with more elaborate options sold by the 10” or 14” pie. These include: “Pepe Le Pew” (mozzarella, sausage and onions), “Goose” (ham and pineapple) and “Trufflelicious” (which explains itself). The full array of options can be generally observed on the enormous chalkboard that hangs in front of the bar, and a changing pie of Adriani’s choosing is generally sold by the slice as well.
Over the years, Adriani has made a number of notable pizzas himself – he gained some local renown nearly a decade ago for bringing Neapolitan-style fried pizza stateside at his Williamsburg restaurant, Forcella. More recently, he was among the bakers involved in what Guinness World Records labels the world’s longest pizza.
On weeknights, Adriani can be found, lean as a rake, at Rosie alongside the pizzeria’s other owner, Aurelio Petra – something of Adriani’s tall, blonde protege, whose days working alongside Adriani stretch back to Adriani’s old pizzeria in Rome, ”Alla Corte dei Borboni,” which they both insist was “very famous.” Rosie reunited the pair.
After building Forcella into a miniature chain, with a number of locations in Manhattan and a negative write-up in the New York Times (“Maybe someday the pizzas at Forcella will be championship caliber, too.”) the empire seemed to be wobbling; locations began shuttering. Adriani then sold what was left, leaving the city behind to try his hand at world-record baking and pizzeria consulting, which he still does. He had already returned to the city and bought Forcella back when he heard about Archie’s.
“The owners totally ran away,” Adriani said. “Many times, we found ourselves asking what really happened in that month, when they decided to close.”
Within a month of its closing, a report on Gothamist had detailed a trail of allegations lodged against its co-owner, Diego Macias, of which his fellow owners had allegedly been aware but ignored. In a statement Adriani and Petra put out shortly after opening, the pair criticized “the lack of acknowledgement from the Archie’s brand” regarding the allegations.
According to Adriani, employees at the now-shuttered Archie’s had reached out to him. Many had, in fact, he adds, begun working at Archie’s after leaving Forcella, which he had sold off around when Archie’s opened.
He estimates that about half of the staff at Rosie used to work at Archie’s, but he views them more as the people he had trained himself, all those years ago. Even if the pies are not the same as the ones that were once voted best in the neighbourhood, there’s a sense of continuity to Adriani’s return to Brooklyn.
“We wanted these people back because they contributed to the success of Archie’s,” he says.
Of course, everything else is different and deliberately so. He hired a local artist to fill the minimally decorated walls with paintings that glitter once the sun goes down. The wood-paneled floors have been replaced with tiles, which give Rosie something of an ’80s vibe.
Adriani says that he doesn’t have the city-conquering ambitions of his last venture, but it was the incredibly local success of the last spot that had ultimately drawn him in. It was a place that never directly competed with the self-consciously ornate crusts of Roberta’s or Ops, but whose memory hangs over what people call the Bushwick pizza scene like a ghost.
But there are other perks too.
Adriani leans in: “This is the best rent I ever had.”
Rosie Pizza Bar is located at 128 Central Avenue and is open until 2 a.m. most weeknights and 4 a.m. on weekends.
All images by Andrew Karpan.
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