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Bar Rosa coming to Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood

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Coming this summer to the Hilltop neighborhood is a wood-fired pizza restaurant and neighborhood bar at 1206 S. 11th St.

Bar Rosa’s owners hope for a summer opening at the space that locals will remember as the longtime home of Thai Garden.

That mom-and-pop Thai restaurant closed in 2016 when the owners retired following 30 years of operating the neighborhood destination. The building has remained vacant.

For a short while in 2017, the building was slated to be a restaurant called Boscoe’s Chicken & Waffles House, but as far as I can tell, the sign on the building was as far as Marty Brown got to opening that restaurant.

The backers of Bar Rosa bought the building, which includes the Thai Garden space and neighboring space that once was a pharmacy. The business will be operated by Meghan Seale and John Bracey Rogers. Seattle bar watchers will know Rogers from his Bar Sue, which closed last year after the bar’s lease was not renewed.

Long before Bar Sue closed, Seale and Rogers started working on Bar Rosa. They’ve served as the bar and restaurant’s general contractors. They’ve completed much of the interior renovations, which were extensive.

They’ll also run daily operations and the food and beverage program.

The pandemic put the project on hiatus for several months, said Seale. They’re in full swing to open by this summer, finally.

“It’s been a process,” she said. Seale moved here three years ago and bought a house in East Tacoma after a pit stop in Seattle as an industry worker. Before Seattle, she lived in Bozeman, Montana. Rogers opened Lucky 8’s China House in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, before flipping the concept to Bar Sue in 2013.

THE SPACE AT BAR ROSA

The entire Bar Rosa space will span both sides of the 1,800 square-feet space. “That space originally was one building. It was a pharmacy in the 1950s. It was split in two at some point in time,” said Seale. “We found a bookcase in the pharmacy side. There was no wall behind it. They basically sandwiched two things together to create a wall, but there wasn’t an actual wall there. We took those things out and the two spaces were open.”

When diners enter, the first thing they’ll see is the wood-fueled pizza oven that will churn out Neapolitan-style pizzas.

“We built a platform flooring and there will be two big booths seating up there,” said Seale. “Then, when you go to the right, where the pharmacy side was, that’s where the bar and rest of seating will be.”

Roll-up garage doors along two walls intend to create a flow between inside and outside. They plan for a small outdoor seating area, but hope to expand that, if they’re able.

Seale said they envision Bar Rosa to be a neighborhood spot in an area brimming with great eating destinations – from Tacoma’s No. 1 Fried Rice, Pho Bac and Eleven Eleven across the street to Zodiac Supper Club, Red Elm and Ice Cream Social around the corner. Longtime Hilltop food businesses Le-Le and Johnson Candy Co. also are a short walk away.

“We’ve gotten to know everybody. We’ve been so impressed with the business owners here. I’m hoping we’re another neighborhood spot. We want to be part of the community and landscape of the neighborhood,” said Seale.

THE MENU AT BAR ROSA

The 21-and-older-only establishment will serve wood-fired pizza in an oven fueled only by applewood, said Seale.

“We got it from Mugnaini in California. It’s an all-Italian oven with parts from Italy and manufactured in California. It’s a 3,000-pound pizza oven. With the crate, it was almost 4,000 pounds. We had to forklift it off the semi truck and then get it into the building. That was a fun and stressful 8-hour day,” she said laughing at the memory from last month.

“Seeing it in person was even cooler than I anticipated. The showpiece of the place is that pizza oven. That’s our only cooking surface. It will be just a wood-fired oven,” she said.

The menu will be microfocused on wood-fired pizza along with a few salads and cold items. They also plan to roast seasonal vegetables and the occasional special, but pizzas will drive the menu.

Those pizzas will be made Neapolitan-style with San Marzano tomatoes and Double zero (00) flour.

They settled on applewood for oven fuel because they found a solid source for wood through a friend, Chef Jon Green of downtown Tacoma’s Wooden City, which also serves wood-fired pizza. “We have a full basement and we’ve got tons of space for storage and we will buy it by the pallet and throw it in the basement,” said Seale. “It burns so well, too. It works the best in a wood-fired oven.”

They’ll focus their bar program on accessible cocktails and 10 local beers on tap, she added.

BAR ROSA

Where: 1206 S. 11th St., Tacoma

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/barrosatacoma/

OPENING IN DOWNTOWN TACOMA: BUDDY’S CHICKEN & WAFFLES

Did you catch my story last week about Buddy’s Chicken & Waffles? They’re opening in downtown Tacoma in the former Infinitea space. Read all about it here.

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