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Anyone tried Rockwood Filling Station in Durham?

I read a snippet about it in the paper the other day, but couldnt' find much online. What I did see was complimentary, but also stated that they had no liquor license yet. Anyone been? Anyone know if we'd still need to BYOB?

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  1. I had dinner there last night and lunch today.

    Five of us arrived for dinner at about 6:30pm and learned that there was a 45-minute wait for indoor seating. The patio, however, had an immediate opening, so we took it.

    Service was prompt and very, very competent--no surprise, we later learned, since our waiter turned out to be the co-owner (with Scott Howell). Four opted for the $6 Chianti, and I chose the $6 Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was served in juice glasses, which were actually quite effective and less fussy than standard stemware. I heard no comments on the Chianti; the SB was fine, if not exceptional. Mixed drinks are also available, including some dangerous-sounding concoctions. Full bar by all appearances.

    All of us ordered pizze: one chicken liver and onions (on the recommendation of Craig and Seth at Wine Authorities across the street), one ham and egg, a white pie, a marinara (no cheese) and one I'm not sure of. They also offer appetizers, sandwiches, salads and a build-your own pizza option.

    It took about 20 minutes for the pies to arrive. I was delighted with my marinara. The crust was thin and crisp, the tomato sauce sparingly applied but very tasty, and it was decorated with halved roma tomatoes, baked garlic, onions and fresh herbs. The approximately 12" pie was quartered, making folded pieces the best option for those of us who eschew attacking pizza with tools.

    The meat eaters were happy with both the ham and egg and chicken liver options. The fried eggs were placed off center so quartering wouldn't cut into the yokes, the ham looked pancetta like, and they hoovered it all. The true chicken liver aficionado thought that frying did the liver injustice, but he still liked the pie just fine. All I can say is that, thankfully, I couldn't smell them.

    The pies ranged from $8 to $12, and the sensible eaters had some to take home. I did not. Ambiance wise, the patio was pleasant enough, despite some flies, and the service was excellent.

    My SO liked her white pie enough last night to suggest Rockwood for lunch today. At 1:00pm there was plenty of indoor seating, and we got a nice spot close to the big windows at the corner. The interior is mostly understated and a little industrial--in keeping with the pizzeria theme. A number of people were dining with their children, so I suppose there was some excuse for the two TVs tuned to NASCAR. At least the volume was either very low or off, and we were seated where they weren't in our line of sight.

    My daughter ordered the eggplant luv pizza, which in addition to the aforementioned had onions, garlic, mozzarella and ricotta. She was delighted with it. Two others had the mozzarella and tomato salad with caramelized onions, which received high marks other than a few less than perfect tomato slices. I had the PLT (pancetta) with white bean and arugula salad, all of which I found to be excellent. The pizza was $12, the PLT $7.50, and the salads $8.

    Iced tea glasses stayed full, and the service was again excellent. We'll definitely be back. The pizze we tried easily trump Brixx in Meadowmont, the prices are reasonable, and there's considerable subtlety to the seasoning. I think it's a hit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dschoonmaker

      Great, thanks so much for the report. Especially glad to hear that they've gotten the booze license thing fixed!

    2. Went to lunch with coworkers on Friday and liked it so went back for dinner the next night.I had the white pie for lunch and then for dinner I had a ceasar salad, made our own pizza with the housemade sausage and roasted eggplant, and the housemade white chocolate and key lime pie ice cream. A big thumbs up on the food. They are definitely still working out the kinks on service (didn't get our wings that we ordered as an app, brought our check without asking if we wanted dessert) but I have a feeling they'll get that straightened out soon. This place is definitely a good addition to the Durham food seen and will be around a long time. The only suggestion I would have is to expand the menu. It's too lunchy right now with just pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. How about a pasta dish with some of that awesome sausage, for example?

      1. Had lunch at the Rockwood Filling Station today and will definitely go back! Ordered the arugula salad that was dressed with a fantastic lemon vinaigrette w/ toasted pine nuts - YUM!

        Also had the ham & egg pizza.....seemed a bit odd to have pizza (or pizze in this case) with an egg on top, but it really added a fantastic rich dimension to the pie. The pie was perfectly cooked, light crispy crust and just enough sauce to add solid tomato flavor without being to heavy. Very generous portion and I think I'll be having the rest for a snack in 30 minutes! The sauce was maybe a tad on the sweet side for my taste but not to the point that I wouldn't gladly order another pizze from them!

        My friend had the margherita and enjoyed his as well. However, same comment from him regarding the slight sweetness of the sauce.

        Service was as expected, courteous and prompt. Seems that they've been able to perfect the art of cooking in a wood-fired oven....I have read earlier reports of charred or raw pizzes. I'm happy to report everything today was topnotch.

        Prices as reported are reasonable at $8-10 for "their" pies or $8 plus $1 or $2 per topping to create your own.

        I think it will be interesting to see if they do begin to expand their menu to include more dinner type offerings - a logical next step would be osteria type offerings.

        Seems like Durham has itself another winner!

        Congrats and best wishes to John & Scott in their new venture

        1. I can't find a website for the place and am wondering if they're open Sundays. Anyone know off the bat if they do dinner that night? I'm very interested in trying it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: LulusMom

            from the carpedurham website: Rockwood Filling Station Hours of Operation:
            Sun, Tue-Thu 11am-2pm, 5pm-10pm
            Fri-Sat 11am-2pm, 5pm-midnight
            Closed Mondays

            I would call ahead to make sure....

          2. My wife and I went a couple of weeks ago (7/26) with some high hopes for good pizza, but we left disappointed for a variety of reasons.

            First when we arrived, the hostess was too busy chatting with someone she knew there to help people that were coming inside to get a table. After around 5 minutes, she helped the four of us that had been waiting for her just to take our names down. We were told 10-15 minutes since there were just two of us so we went outside and sat on the stairs to wait.

            Quite a while later, after seeing other groups that came well after us get seated, the hostess finally comes out to us and says that she hadn't seen us, even though we hadn't moved from where we were sitting, and she had never called out my name if she didn't see me. So it took around 30 minutes to get seated, which was a little slow compared to what we were told.

            Once we sat down (it was a bit hard to get to our seats, they need a better traffic pattern in there), we ordered the meatballs and then one pizza each (the eggplant for her, and the ham and egg for me). The meatballs came fairly quickly and were tasty, but there was a lot of extra sauce there and no bread or other starch to soak it up with. Adding that would make that appetizer, or just the wait overall, much better.

            Once our pizzas arrived, they looked good but once we inspected them closer, there were some issues. Both were charred on one side, but barely even browned on the other side. The level of char was pretty good, but the other side wasn't cooked nearly enough. Maybe they are still tweaking the oven, but they need to be cooked more evenly all around. Her eggplant was also far too soggy, and my ham and egg had too much ham (I know most people would want as much meat as you can get, but it just overpowered everything else), but the cheese was fantastic. Having to cut it with a knife and fork was a pain as well and I would have them cut it in the future.

            For dessert we went with the Bailey's Coffee Crunch ice cream, which had looked great from the minute we got the menu. There's no way to describe the ice cream other than a total disaster. Icy, not creamy, with very little flavor, blueberries that added nothing to enhance the flavor (blueberries + coffee/baileys?), and it made me long for the Haggen Dasz that we had at home in the freezer. Even the small cookie that came with the ice cream (which our waitress insisted was fantastic and freshly made when we ordered) was neither freshly made nor amazing.

            The meal went downhill from the appetizer, and I can't see myself going back. No alcohol and a bill past $40 isn't a good value to me at all, and the food wasn't close to the level of the price. They have a lot of things they can work out and things will improve, but it would take a lot of good reviews before I would return.

            1. Lunch today. Best pizza I've had in the Triangle, sort of a cross between a Roman thin crust non-puffed outer rim pizza, and a Neopolitan more puffed pillow-y pie. Perfectly cooked, with nice char/flaking. The use of only fresh ingredients (mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, etc.) and homemade sausage are welcome. Their pies crush Pop's. Waitstaff are professional, and helpful. I'll be a regular.

              1. solid food, great vibe, and prices pretty reasonable.....except for the beer. 5.50 a pint?? really? i've paid less than that in some new york city bars.

                (btw, in case you were wondering what kind of beers they have on tap, some of them are: lagunitas ipa, magic hat #9, duck rabbit porter, bells two hearted ale, carolina india pale ale, stella artois)

                3 Replies
                1. re: cervisiam

                  5.50 a pint for those kinds of beers, especially if they have to stock it in the smaller keg format, is about right. folks in hboro complain about those prices but i know that the folks selling 'em aren't making much if anything on those beers at that price ($5 to $5.50 a pint).

                  1. re: chili367

                    I don't mind paying that if its an actual pint. Especially for nice choices like those.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      i can get some of those pints down the road at city beverage for $1.00-$1.50 less, so it definitely discourages more frequent visits, unless we have a craving for pizza.

                2. We went for a birthday treat. Sat outside with no waiting.

                  I suppose the staff is so busy and constantly on the move that they don't notice the aggressive flies inundating al fresco diners. My theory is that they've fattened up and become quite strong based on Q Shack's dumpster drippings.

                  It's really quite irritating and we had to constantly swat and move our arms and cover our foods and drinks with our napkins. Unfortunately, the flies issues kept us from enjoying our food as much as I'm sure we could have. Really, are some fly strips around the dumpster area too much to request?

                  So...the dining experience. The wait person was okay, neither particularly friendly or brusque. The margarita was not delivered as asked, but the evening was hot and I drank it anyway without complaining. The appetizer wings arrived in good time and were charred and tasty. Only one of our three used the dipping sauce (resembled 1000 Island dressing). She reported later of some GI issues not experienced by the rest of us. We ordered three pizzas--margarita, anchovy and four cheese. All were charred pretty well (but, as another CH noted, one side was more charred than the other). The margarita was okay, although some of the fresh basil appeared more age wilted than heat wilted. The next day leftovers seemed to have taken on a more tangy/acidic flavor. The anchovy was the hit. And the four cheese surprised, in a not good way, with the gorgonzola. Unlike the others, the four cheese did not get all eaten in leftover form and the last piece or two eventually found the compost pile.

                  Because of the flies we didn't order desert or more drinks.

                  The experience was not one leaving me raving enthusiastically to friends, but I plan to give it another chance--sitting inside. Still, I find DC's Pizzeria Paradiso, on P St near DC's Dupont Circle, much better all around. I've not tried Pop's Back Door yet...or the renovated Broad Street Café (that apparently sports a new brick oven)...but hope to do so in the near future.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Juanita Higginbotham

                    I"m a former DC-er who is also a huge fan of Paradiso - if you like their pizzas you might try Panzanella in Carrboro. What was surprising about the gorgonzola on the 4 cheese? was it off?

                  2. Got around to trying their wings and they are fantastic. That and the house salad makes a yummy meal.

                    1. We finally tried this place and were favorably impressed. Nice crunchy crust, good toppings, friendly and prompt service. We'll go back. Oh, and I know some people were upset that the 'zas weren't being sliced before being brought to the table ... now they are.

                      1. Went there last night with a foodie friend. We both were underwhelmed. We ordered the White Pie and a build-your-own with eggplant, pancetta, onions, and house sausage. The BYO was better than the White Pie. Once we added more salt to the White Pie, it wasn't so bad though. The crust had more charred spots than Broad St.'s pizza, although it otherwise had a nice consistency (crunchy on the outside). The house sausage was very good!

                        I had the Duck Rabbit Porter and my friend ordered a glass of wine. I don't mind paying $5.50 for a DR Porter because it's a very good beer and it's from NC. $5.50 for some of the other options would be a bit too much.

                        Where the big disappointment came was with dessert. I played it safe and ordered the hazelnut nutella swirl ice cream. Overall, not bad if you like those flavors. I do wonder if a smaller portion for a dollar less would be a better option---2 scoops of rich ice cream after eating a whole pizza put me over the edge!

                        My friend ordered the Turtle Crostata which the server described as a brownie-like sundae. Not quite....the base (the crostata) was off somehow and I think it was because it had been frozen. It tasted like a semi-sweet yeast roll but the outside was chewy, much like what happens when you microwave a previously frozen bready item. It also seemed to have an off flavor which was perhaps the result of being in a freezer. The pralines and cream ice cream on top was tasty, but we left the crostata on the plate.

                        Service was excellent, if not a tad over eager. Not sure how I feel about the 2 TVs in the small restaurant, though last night it was welcome as I enjoyed watching the pre-World Series coverage. The TVs would fit in more with a pizzeria that didn't otherwise seem to be going for an elegant feel.

                        I will likely go back as I love pizza and homemade ice cream. I just won't order the crostata.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sarahUNC

                          Funny, we went last night too! It was our second time - first time around I got the white pie, and I was also disappointed with it. This time got the anchovy with the addition of truffle oil, and it was great (althought slightly soggy in the middle - thought at first it was because of the oil, but my husband's was the same). Agree that the service was great - very friendly and helpful.

                          We ordered ice cream, and it was just ... bad. Not creamy at all, very fluffy and airy, and not a lot of flavor. We'd ordered one scoop of the caramel praline and thought we'd mistakenly gotten vanilla until the waiter showed us that deep inside the scoop was a tiny bit of caramel. It didn't matter, we didn't eat it. Not worth the calories by a long run. Still and all, the pizza was good and it's a comfortable place (but I'm with you on the tvs).

                        2. I went last night with a friend, excited about having a casual restaurant with a good wood-fired oven near work. Maybe my expectations were out of line or maybe the food and the overall experience was just underwhelming at best.

                          We arrived around 6:15pm. Only 2 tables at most were filled. We were seated in the front of the restaurant near the retractable garage door. Though it was the 2 of us, we were sat a corner restaurant with a tiny bistro-sized table. We placed our drink orders, and then tore into the menu. We split an order of wings, a ham and egg, and a white pizza. The server was not necessarily rude but definitely will never win a Miss Congeniality award. We did not have prompt service and her answers to my questions about the wine and the pizzas were very canned and not very informed. She obviously hadn't been properly trained on the menu.

                          Back to the food. The wings came out and looked very promising, with bits of caramelized onions and parsley scattered on top of nicely charred and sectioned wings. However, they were incredibly greasy and the flavor was lacking. It needed a great deal of seasoning. We ended up salt and peppering each wing and it made it okay but definitely wasn't great. 2 dipping sauces accompanied the dish--a sundried tomato and a homemade blue cheese. Both were also lacking in seasoning and didn't do anything to the wings. Incredibly messy appetizer and not in a good way.

                          The pizzas were very lackluster at best. The white pizza looked, emphasis on the word looked, good. However, one bite in it and it tasted flat. The crust had a nice char, not overdone, but lacked flavor. After 2 more bites, I added a pinch of salt (noticing a trend?) and it made it a little better but definitely not worth ingesting anymore un-fulfilling calories. My friend had the same comment and we left our first pieces uneaten. The Ham and Egg was better--the sauce had more flavor, and the flavor combination was pretty tasty.

                          After the waiter came back to our table a good 10 minutes or so after our pizzas had arrived to check on things, we told her the white pizza lacked seasoning. She could obviously see that 90% of the pizza was left uneaten. She had a non-chalant look on her face and said she didn't know why we felt that way, that it's not supposed to be a zesty or spicy pizza. We told her that wasn't the issue, the issue was that it lacked a proper amount of seasoning. We were quite perturbed that we had to get in a debate with her over this. She finally offered to take it back and get us something else. We choose a build our own with proscuitto. When that pizza came, it was okay but not great.

                          My friend and I will not be coming back. The overall dining experience even with the unsatisfying food rendered this place as not even being worthy of a second chance. We were still eating the wings when the 2 pizzas came. With 4 glasses (1 glass of wine, 2 glasses of water, 1 glass of diet coke), red pepper shaker, salt and pepper shakers, sweeteners, 2 app plates, and a bowl of wings, the table was way too full to hold anything else. That is another pet peeve. I can't imagine what it would be like eating there when the place is bustling like I would imagine it would on the weekends.

                          1. anyone been recently? started off with a bang but was that bang simply because it was new?

                            I'm not hearing any thing in recent weeks, good, bad or otherwise - simply nothing.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: chicaraleigh

                              I went last weekend. I really wanted to like it, but it was just OK. A solid C+. Both pizzas a bit soggy. Chicken liver and pancetta pizza sounded promising, but was greasy and lacking zing. Spinach salad was nothing special. For a similar price, I'd much rather have the pizzas at Panzanella in Carrboro or Pop's in Durham. Disappointing, as an awesome gourmet pizza place with interesting local ingredients would be very welcome here.

                              1. re: emandm

                                I would have to concur with the disappointment. I went last week after not having been for a while. I had forgotten how limited the menu is. Yes, yes, I realize this is a pizza place and I would have been fine with the small menu if the pizzas actually had been amazing. Unfortunately, they were soggy and nothing to write home about. For the price, they really aren’t that substantial. And my Caesar salad was way overdressed. I agree, I would rather get a take-out pizza from Pop’s Backdoor Pizza. By the way, I think Pop’s “Tomato Lovers” pizza is the bomb!

                                1. re: ecofoodie

                                  thanks emamdm & ecofoodie - I was afraid that might have been the case - how disappointing....thanks for the tip on the Tomato Lovers Pizza!

                                  1. re: chicaraleigh

                                    Another loud vote for disappointment. Brick oven pizza is one of my family's favorites and we had some good experiences at Rockwood early in its life. But having visited last night after a number of months away, we won't be going back. Service was a major problem. While not busy, it took the kitchen more than 50 minutes to deliver two pizzas and a small order of wings for the three of us. While admitting to screwing up, the cook offered no apologies and the waiter hid. The pizza was soggy and lacked flavor. When tracked down and asked if they still had lemon sorbet, the waiter admitted that because of kitchen problems they had eliminated a number of dishes including the sorbet. The dinner was spoiled, the waiter and cook knew it and yet made no attempt to remedy the situation - and no manager was present to elevate our complaints. Very sad overall. We really wanted to see Rockwood succeed, but unless they significantly change, I don't see how its going to be a long term fixture.

                                    1. re: bugsdad

                                      Me and three others dined at the Rockwood Filling Station at the end of January. I had heard and read good things about this locally owned pizzeria but frankly I was disappointed. The crust was good and thin but it was not crispy. In fact, it was kind of floppy from about 1.5" from the edge onwards.

                                      I had the chicken liver pizza. I'm not familiar with the Southern way of preparing chicken livers and when the pizza was served, I thought there were fried oysters on my pizza. My neighbors explained that this was the way the livers are eaten in NC.

                                      Another gripe about the dining experience was the server. She wasn't that attentive and her manner gave me the impression she didn't want to be working because she was somewhat abrupt with my party.

                                      Overall, I was underwhelmed by the whole experience and both my spouse and I agree that I make better pizzas.

                                      1. re: Chow Penguin

                                        on the topic of the livers did you expect them to be in a pate/spread form?