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Reinventing Your Typical "Pizza and a Beer" at Taverna Rossa

By Marina Jokic

When you think of Plano, Texas, you are probably not associating it with authentic Italian pizza pies. Instead, Texas conjures up images of juicy barbecue and stone cold beer. However, Taverna Rossa has been trying to change that notion by reinventing the concept of Tex-Italian food and creating stunningly delicious, thin-crust, artisan pizzas by combining the simplicity of traditional Italian dough with unique Texas flavors.

Owner Preston Lancaster and VP of Operations Tony Smith have unfettered enthusiasm when it comes to creating Taverna's menu. Bring cold craft beer into the mix, and you've got a pretty sublime culinary experience in an unexpected location.

Shannon McCarthy, who has been working in Taverna's marketing department says its appeal is due to several factors: the care and attention invested in sourcing the ingredients, the unique and unusual flavor combinations, and the best craft beers and handcrafted beverages in town. The Spicy Bloody Rossa comes to mind, having won the Best in Big D distinction two years in a row.

Pizza and beer sound pretty difficult to market in a unique and distinctive way. Despite that challenge, McCarthy points out, her job has been made easy by the consistently high quality, flavorful food and excellent service that Taverna Rossa delivers to its clientele. These days, even consistency of flavor and service are not a guarantee of success. What's different about the Taverna team is that they actually listen closely to what their customers have to say and implement it in their operations, marketing strategy, and day-to-day minutiae. It's worth mentioning too that Lancaster grew up working in his mother's pizzeria, which left an indelible mark on him and instilled a love of food and entrepreneurship.

Undeniably, Lancaster has carried his family's legacy into the work he does today with unyielding dedication and enthusiasm. His friendship with Smith led to their introduction of craft beer on the menu, as the two already were avid fans and connoisseurs of the cold brew. The local craft beer scene was what inspired them in particular, and they developed their beverage menu by focusing on local favorites that melded well with their pizzas. Adding the two together, they created a craft pizza and beer restaurant that caused their guests to become infatuated.

"As for the type of pizza, we serve a Texas spin on the classic Italian dish," says McCarthy. The process starts with the crispy, cracker-thin crust that complements the flavorful toppings- such as hanger steak or goat cheese, without being too heavy. Holding itself to the highest standards of handmade, wholesome food and hometown flavor, the Taverna team seeks to satisfy the palates of even the pickiest of eaters.

Each entree is loaded with ingredients like smoked Texas brisket and applewood-smoked bacon from Hamm's Meat Market in McKinney, Lemley Tomatoes from Canton, Luscher's Italian Sausage, and Texas Wagyu sirloin. There is also live music every week- from rock and country, to blues.

Grabbing pizza and a beer has been taken to the next level at Taverna Rossa.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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