by Mary Kelley Zeleskey | photo by Joey Brent
With Italian recipes and rich family history dating back to 1895, Rosati’s authentic Chicago-style pizza offers big flavors in a cozy setting. The family history and Italian themes is what originally attracted owner Scott Whitaker to bring the Roasti’s concept to Oxford. “For me, after traveling over the years to Chicago, I’ve eaten in most of the big name restaurants up there, and I always have a Chicago deep-dish pizza at least once, but they really are more known for their thin crust”, said Whitaker. Offering both deep-dish and thin crust pizza, the Rosati’s recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. Beginning when the family’s first Italian restaurant and pizzeria was opened on Coney Island by Italian immigrant Ferdinand Rosati, Rosati later opened a similar concept in Chicago in 1906. His son, Saverio Rosati, followed in his father’s footsteps in 1927 and opened his own Italian restaurant in Chicago, where Al Capone and his entourage could be seen enjoying pasta dishes. It wasn’t until 1978 that the Rosati family began franchising their restaurants. Rosati’s opened its doors on North Lamar Boulevard in the summer of 2021, bringing a variety of traditional Italian dishes with an emphasis on Chicago-style pizza. “It was really important to us to do something in the downtown area. We wanted to have a unique concept but something that would really add to the options here”, said Davis Brown, one of the managers of Rosati’s in Oxford. “I think we have been able to accomplish that”.
All of the Rosati’s restaurants pride themselves on sourcing fresh ingredients and staying true to the rich family history. With authentic sauces, like marinara and alfredo, made daily in Chicago and shipped directly to Oxford every week, the dishes remain fresh and unique. “You can’t get our sauces at the grocery store. You can’t get substitutes for what we have here”, said Whitaker. “This is all proprietary items, which
makes the quality of the products much better”. The restaurant’s concept expanded around the mid-western part of the country, making Rosati’s cuisine unique to Mississippi. “The more we have learned about it, the connections between Chicago and Mississippi are just really astounding. We have customers that are Chicago natives that drive down from all over north Mississippi”, said Brown. One dish in particular that keeps customers coming back is their Meat Mania pizza. This best selling pizza includes their Rosati’s Italian sausage, pepperoni, the Rosati’s meatballs and bacon. “We also offer our Windy City pizza, which is Italian sausage with fresh minced garlic, onion and hot Giardiniera sauce on it. It tastes like the Chicago sandwiches but on a pizza”, said Brown. “It is very unique and is my personal favorite menu item that we have”. If you are not a lover of pizza, Rosati’s offers Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches. Brown considers their beef sandwiches to be similar to a French Dip sandwich, but a lot more flavorful. These sandwiches include Rosati’s own Au Jus sauce and roast beef. Traditionally, Au Jus sauce is made from the roast beef itself. Similar to a gravy, this is one way to enhance the flavors of the meat naturally. “The way that they serve them in Chicago is they actually dunk the entire sandwich in the Au Jus sauce, and it is fantastic”, said Brown. This is definitely something to keep in mind when visiting Rosati’s to enjoy the beef sandwiches the traditional way. Another signature sauce that cannot be missed is the hot Giardiniera, which is similar to a spicy pickled relish. This sauce is offered on all of the sandwiches and may be added to any pizza for a little bit of extra flavor. If you are still dreaming about the Giardiniera sauce after adding it to your dish, it is also jarred for customers to take home to enjoy at any time.
The delicious Italian food is not the only unique part about what Rosati’s brings to the table in Oxford. It is the first restaurant in the state with a self-serve beer wall, which includes 16 different beer taps. “We try to have as many local beers as possible and whatever is fresh and in season, too”, said Brown. While the pour-my-beer system is not new to Rosati’s in Chicago, this is the first self-serve beer wall in the state of Mississippi making Rosati’s in Oxford stand out from other restaurants in the area. For the non-beer drinkers, the cocktail SmartBar machine is also an option. This innovative design pours the perfect glass of several different cocktails in addition to wine. With Chicago-style pizza, self-serve local beer and blues music playing on the speaker, you are sure to experience unique flavors in a Mississippi atmosphere. “We are the only location in the central Mid-south. That’s why we feel like we are unique”, said Whitaker. “We have something that you just can’t get in the region”.