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How to Make Pizza Rosso From RPM Italian DC

Chef Massimo Vicidomini shares the recipe for pizza rosso, a fixture on the happy hour menu at the popular Washington DC restaurant RPM Italian.

pizza rosso

Pizza rosso from RPM Italian in Washington, DC. Photo: RPM Restaurants

“I’m a pizza nerd!” exclaims Massimo Vicidomini, executive chef of RPM Italian DC. “I love pizza.” The accomplished chef, a native of Nocera Inferiore near Naples, is explaining why he features pizza rosso on the happy hour menu at the upscale establishment in Washington DC’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood.

The pizza rosso is a versatile dish for Vicidomini, who points out that it’s vegan and can be a great snack at the bar before heading to the dining room for dinner at RPM Italian DC, a part of the massive Lettuce Entertain You group. It’s also something of a template for RPM Italian DC’s rotating cast of pizzettes and pizzas that appear as specials.

"Usually, chefs don't care too much about pizza," Vicidomini says, adding that when he travels back to his home region, he often makes a stop at Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo to see what pizza maestro Franco Pepe is up to.

For Vicidomini, the pizza rosso in particular has special meaning. Growing up in the town between Naples and Salerno, his extended family would often gather for dinner, ordering pizzas with toppings like prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, ham, and mushrooms. But one member of the family insisted on a “marinara,” as pizza rosso is known as in Southern Italy: his grandfather. “He always wanted that one because it’s the most simple,” Vicidomini says. When a pizza has cheese, he adds, “the cheese melts, and it changes the structure of the pizza dough, so it’s harder to tell the quality. [My grandfather] was very analytical in that sense. He wanted to make sure the pizza was in top shape and to test the quality of the ingredients.”

Massimo Vicidomini
Massimo Vicidomini. Photo: RPM Restaurants

His grandfather passed away a few years back, so the pizza rosso on the menu at RPM Italian DC has extra significance for him. Vicidomini notes that his pizza rosso is a sort of homage, and he tries to replicate his native region’s high-quality collection of ingredients — “incredible tomato sauce and olive oil, fresh shaved garlic, and oregano off the branch from Sicily.”

Vicidomini adds that the pizza rosso’s name in Italy, “marinara,” references the fishermen who would take it for lunch while out at sea; because it has no cheese, it wouldn’t spoil while they were away from shore in the hot sun. 

No such worries for most of us, but his pizza rosso recipe makes a terrific snack that anyone can enjoy. 

Pizza Rosso

Pizza Rosso

Recipe by Massimo Vicidomini
5.0 from 2 votes


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the pizza dough
  • 4 cups 4 Bread Flour

  • ¼ cup Rye Flour

  • ½ Tbsp Malt Powder

  • 1 tsp 1 Yeast

  • 2 2 ½ cups warm water (100°F - 110°F)

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Fine Sea Salt

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Olive Oil

  • For the rossa sauce
  • 1 quart 1 pomodoro sauce

  • ½ cup Calabrian Chili Peppers


  • For the rossa sauce
  • Add the the pomodoro sauce and calabrian chili peppers to a blender
  • Blend on medium for 2 minutes until the sauce is well combined
  • Set aside
  • For the pizza
  • Preheat your oven to 500°F
  • Using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine the Yeast, Bread Flour, Rye, Flour and Malt Powder in the bowl. Stir on low to combine.
  • While running the stand mixer on medium power, gradually add the water until the dough starts to form.
  • Continue to knead the dough in the stand mixer for approximately 6 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Add the Olive Oil and salt and run the mixer for 30 more seconds.
  • Move the mixing bowl to a warm spot in your kitchen. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for at least 2, but no more than 4 hours
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and stretch it into an 8 inch round on a baking sheet or pizza peel
  • Top with approximately ¼ cup of the rossa sauce and spread evenly.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 3 to 5 minutes until crispy edges form.
  • Remove from the oven and enjoy!

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