On our first night in Venice on an anniversary trip 12 years ago, my husband and I found a cute little out-of-the-way ristorante that didn’t seem too touristy. We were tired and jetlagged and wanted something tasty but familiar. In other words, we were in Italy, but we wanted a little comfort. It felt a little silly at the time, but we ordered pizza.
I haven’t shut up about that pizza since.
The cracker-crisp yet densely chewy crust, the simple tomato marinara, fresh mozzarella, spare herbs, and that’s all you need. It’s like all the best dishes: The ingredients work in tandem to bring out each other’s best so that the most simple recipe is so much greater than the sum of its parts.
Ever since that trip to Venice, I’ve been looking for her pizza. Lucky for me, Italy has opened up shop just down the street from me.
This is a beautiful space in the brand new H3 building at Third Street Southwest and South Broadway in Rochester. The vibe is historic and European yet modern, with palazzo archways framing rich, deep wood tones and large sliding windows that just open allllll the way up.
Three distinct sections meet you at whatever mood you’re in: Sit at the bar for a quick drink, head back to the pasta bar to get in on the kitchen action or be seated in the formal dining room that sits in between the two bar bookends. Pricing is commensurate with a fine dining establishment; if you’d like, you can try smaller portions of many of the same dishes.
Have I told you about the pizza yet?
I’ll try to stop because the rest of their menu is also amazing. But I had to order pizza first thing just to see. At the first bite, I closed my eyes, and I was back on that Venetian patio with music floating over the water.
There is plenty more than the pizza to keep you coming back, including the antipasti arancini Siciliani — flash-fried risotto truffles stuffed with fresh mozzarella and served with parmesan and marinara. Next time, I want to try the calamari parmigiano (squid) and formaggio fritto (fried cheese), too.
The restaurant’s centerpiece dish is the spaghetti carbonara, but check out their selection of handmade fresh pasta, including five-cheese ravioli and mushroom tagliatelle. Protein-seekers will love the brined pork chop, flat iron prime flat iron steak and the salmon. The menu also features several salads, an imported meat and cheese plate and hand-crafted gnocchi.
The well-appointed wine list and staff sommelier help you decide what glass you’ll enjoy, and a small selection of draft beer is also available. You may as well treat yourself to dessert, too, since you’re almost in Italy anyway — I recommend checking out the creme brulee.
Terza is located at 30 Third St. SE in downtown Rochester, and they’re open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, including Sunday through Thursday until 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
When you stop in, tell the pizza I said hi. I’ll be back for my own soon enough.