The east side’s Rose’s Fine Food is consistently on my short list of favorite Detroit restaurants since it opened in 2014, trading in well-sourced breakfast and lunch “diner” fare, along with its excellent sourdough bread and cakes.
Though its hotline and previous menu became COVID casualties as owner Molly Mitchell adjusted to stay afloat in recent years, Rose’s maintained in its pivot to paninis and salads, and the change presented a new opportunity: dinner service that would allow it to showcase its natural wine selection. With the installation of a proper bakers’ oven, Mitchell had all she needed for a pizza menu.
It’s a departure from the diner vibe, but no matter — like everything at Rose’s, dinner rides on simplicity and impeccable seasonal produce sourcing from local growers like Beaverland and Fisheye. The caprese salad, for example, was mixed with incredible tomatoes from Detroit’s Hio Farms, basil grown at Rose’s, chili oil, and creamy mozzarella — no balsamic, because Rose’s knows what it’s doing, and the high quality, sweet, early season heirloom tomatoes carry the plate.
The dinner menu is short and changes each weekend — typically two pizzas, one with meat and one without, along with some combination of salads, “snack plates,” soup, and dessert. Each pizza is 12 inches and built from a yeasted dough inspired by an Eric Wareheim recipe that produces a super crisp crust, and which comes out of the oven with just the right level of char.
The red pies are made with a bright sauce, and each of the four we tried were excellent, but none were better than that with eggplant, shiitake mushrooms, black olives, and a coating of herbs on a generous layer of mozzarella. What puts it over the top are the pops of umami from the shiitake mushrooms, which were marinated in something along the lines of soy, lemon, herbs, and chili oil. Another substantial pie was one made with squash, pickled jalapeño, peaches, and super creamy goat cheese. The inspiration came from an Appalchian salad of peaches and jalapeños topped with sugar that a former employee's mother used to make.
We also loved a pizza with pepperoni, black olives, tomatoes, basil, and pickled carrots, the latter of which is an ingenious topping. “It’s so easy to cook this time of year with the produce because you just blend something with something else and it’s always awesome,” Mitchell says. A bit simpler but no less tasty was a pie with prosciutto, red sauce, and plenty of herbs.
Among the snacks were bundles of long beans roasted and wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of greens, doused in a pleasant, acidic, brightening vinaigrette. On a different visit, cheesy bread made with Rose’s sour dough loaves lightly toasted with cheese melted on top an excellent marinara with the pickled carrots and a side of salami was worth the order.
Mitchell’s chilled beet soup was made with braised beets, a basil pesto, creme fraiche, walnuts, pickled josta berries, and small sprigs of dill, all of which achieved balance in flavor and texture. The josta berries are an unusual savory, salty, and sour berry that Mitchell decided to pickle to add to the soup’s Polish feel.
Diego Aliste buys Rose’s natural wines, and steadily rotates bottles that are mostly at an approachable price – typically under $25. He says he scours inventory lists for gems that sometimes can’t be found elsewhere in Michigan and are effectively exclusive to Rose’s. Among those Aliste, who was born in Chile, poured was a Chilean orange, Mingaco, made from muscatel grapes that’s heavy on the citrus and apricot notes. Only 2,000 bottles were produced, and though orange wines are having their moment, Mingaco has been making it “since long before the idea of the trend — this was just how they used to make white wine,” Aliste says. We also got a bottle of a Cicada Song rosé.
Aliste keeps on hand some of Rose’s “greatest hits,” and if you’re not sure what you like, he’s a chill guy who makes sure there’s no shame in approaching him with questions or having a conversation to figure out what you might be into. Note: no corkage fee at Roses, so if you see a $15 bottle of wine on the shelf, pop it open and pay $15.