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Why a Dallas Pizzeria Charges $1,000 for Ranch Dressing

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[Photo: Garrett Hall/Eater]

Whether you consider it blasphemy or merely a way to improve the cardboard-like crust of a lowly frozen pizza, tons of people love to dip their pizza crusts in ranch dressing. VPN-certified Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso falls into the former category. In fact, diners at the restaurant wishing for a side of ranch will find themselves faced with a hefty bill: As a display on the dining room wall explains, a side of ranch will run you a cool $1,000.

Though the sign has been up for awhile, Cane Rosso owner Jay Jerrier tells Eater "it never got much traction until Reddit picked up on it" earlier this month. The impassioned debate garnered nearly 900 comments in all.

Jerrier is no stranger to going viral; previous stunts like quoting bad Yelp reviews on the pizzeria's menu have garnered the restaurant plenty of internet notoriety. Eater Dallas editor Whitney Filloon sat down with Jerrier to talk about the origins of the now-famous ranch dressing display and how he really feels about people putting it on their pizza.

Update 3/24: The restaurant is outright banning people from bringing in their own ranch dressing.

How did the idea to actually put the display on the wall come about?
It was from one of my good friends who works at Pizza Hut in their innovations department. She comes up with some of the crazy things they do — not like the really weird stuff they do overseas, like the mini burgers on the crust — but some of the other stuff. Anyway, on our opening night in 2011, she jokingly gave me this big bottle of Hidden Valley ranch. It just sat in our office for a couple months, but as we were open longer, we kept having people ask, Oh do you have a side of ranch? And I was like, what do you want ranch for? To dip the crust in. Well, we don't have ranch, but we'll give you balsamic or Caesar or marinara if you want. It's weird, it always seems to be young, college-age girls that ask for it.

[Photo: Garrett Hall/Eater]

It just kind of turned into a joke. Okay, if people are going to keep asking for ranch, I thought it'd be funny if I could find one of those "in case of emergency break glass" things. That's how it started, I went online searching for one that I thought would fit a ranch bottle. I found that little [case] and we put it on the wall. Then I was just joking around with my head of operations, saying we should put some outrageous price on it. We printed out that little sign and put it up there in a frame we had lying around.

Reddit recently caught wind of your $1,000 side of ranch, and commenters over there went nuts. There was something like 400 comments in three hours.
It never got much traction until Reddit picked up on it. The guy's username who posted it was "brostash"! That's awesome. Sup, brostash? Every now and again somebody local would post something about it, but brostash really put us on the map.

The Reddit thread got pretty heated. It seemed like some of them were trying to paint you as the "Pizza Nazi."
Everybody [on Reddit] seems to assume we're the worst people in the world, like how dare they tell me how to eat my pizza! Dude, it's a joke. Relax.

How dare they tell me how to eat my pizza! Dude, it's a joke. Relax.

I guess without knowing us, just looking at that [out of context]... But I really don't know how you could look at that and not automatically know it was a joke. I guess without understanding our whole body of work and what our 'bit' is… I don't know. It was pretty funny how people did take it really seriously and were super offended. I guess it's the Midwest. They love them some ranch.

[Photo: Garrett Hall/Eater]

So in spite of the sign, does anyone actually ask for ranch dressing at Cane Rosso?
They really don't. And if they do, we're never mean-spirited about it. But we don't really get that many requests for ranch.

You actually do serve ranch dressing at your other pizzeria, the New York-style Zoli's, so obviously you're not militantly opposed to the idea of ranch on pizza in general.
Not at all. But even [at Zoli's], where it flows in rivers, people don't ask for it for their pizza much. And the ranch we make here is really good, we roast the jalapenos ourselves and make the ranch from scratch. It's good on our zucchini fries, I don't know about pizza.

For some reason ranch dressing on hot melty cheese just seems weird to me.

For some reason ranch dressing on hot melty cheese just seems weird to me. To dip bread in ranch, I don't think I'd ever do that. My friend Paulie Gee who runs Paulie Gee's in Brooklyn, his new thing is to have cold salted butter with his pizza crust. Now that's a good idea.

Why do you offer ranch at Zoli's but not at Cane Rosso?
Well you know, at Cane Rosso we really try — and you gotta take this with a grain of salt — we try to stay authentically Neapolitan, but we're also the same guys who are putting brisket on pizza, and bacon marmalade. But we really try to stay far away from the kind of Midwest-American tradition. No chicken, no ham, no pineapple. I think for the most part, again, take it with a grain of salt, Cane Rosso is more about restraint and balance where we're not taking it to extremes. We've got some pizzas that kind of have a lot going on but they're — this sounds douchey — carefully curated ingredients where we want a specific sopressata or we want a specific chef to make our sausage. Stuff like that. So there's a lot going on with the pie but it's not overloaded with toppings. Ranch just seems like such an excess. And to me, I just never thought the two went together.

[Photo: Garrett Hall/Eater]

But over [at Zoli's], it really started because I wanted the ranch as a dipping sauce for zucchini fries. But we really just did it kind of as a joke too. When we first started we said we were basically going to make Zoli's the anti-Cane Rosso. So if you hate Cane Rosso, you'll like this place. If you bitch about how you can't pick it up and the toppings fall off, it's too small, not enough cheese, not enough toppings… You'll like Zoli's. Stromboli that's stuffed with everything we have on the line, slices that are loaded up, two-inch thick Sicilian slices, stuff like that. This is the pizzeria of excess. If I put my mind to eat, I can eat a whole Cane Rosso pizza, it's pretty light. But here, to make it through more than one slice I gotta be hungry or drunk or both. Or hangry.

So you mentioned that you think the ranch on pizza thing is sort of a Midwest thing, but it seems like here in Texas, people put ranch on almost everything.
You know, I've worked in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and I think this is pretty much the Ranch Belt. From Texas straight on up through. I don't know if it goes up to Chicago but I would bet a million dollars that it's in Ohio.

Update 3/24: The restaurant is outright banning people from bringing in their own ranch dressing.

· All Cane Rosso Coverage on Eater [-E-]
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