A friend of mine who semi-recently has become completely enamored with the always-happening Rossi asked me why it doesn't crop up in my columns. Well it has, and it does - since the first freaking week the place premiered.

A friend of mine who semi-recently has become completely enamored with the always-happening Rossi asked me why it doesn't crop up in my columns. Well it has, and it does - since the first freaking week the place premiered.

Now beyond questioning what kind of so-called "friend" doesn't bother to clip out, study and memorize (I'm thinking mantra-like) every single earth-shattering piece I've ever scribbled, I figured it was time again to mention one of my consistently favorite places in town.

Last year this perennially popular and packed Short North hot spot expanded a bit, but smartly didn't mess with its success. So there's just more of what was already great: more super-cool tunes and furniture, Frank Stella-like wall adornments, the mixed-age crowd, hip brick, black and chocolate brown. Oh, and terrific food and drink of course.

Though I enjoy most of the stuff on the Rossi's smallish and focused menu, here I'm going to concentrate on a one-two punch I occasionally must indulge in. No, it doesn't involve the grilled Caesar salad wrapped in prosciutto, lamb lollipops, or cold water lobster cakes (though I like those too), but rather it's the Rossi's grown-up takes on kiddie favorites - burgers and pizza.

There's lots of things you can do to a hamburger, but absolutely nothing beats searing it over a mark-, crust-, aroma- and smoky-flavor-imparting high-heat grill. That's what the Rossi does; and the genuine backyard results are transporting.

What's more, this thick and juicy - not greasy- pure beef patty receives a nice toasted bun (that has understandable trouble holding up to the exciting leakage); the proper condiments; and an army of crunchy, golden-brown little curly hand-cut French fries. In a little side cup comes a lemony and basily aioli that's good for the burger and good for the fries. I love it all.

But the pizza's just as good. Billed as New York-style, it's actually better than many Manhattanites I've tried (and they are legion) and the Rossi's version is even a tad thinner-crusted than your typical NYCer, too (I like thin).

The crust has an enticingly yeasty aroma and flavor, especially along the lightly browned irregular and chewy edges. I like mine made with giardinera (super spicy pickled veggies) and half smoky pepperoni and half garlicky clumps of sausage (both meats get attractively crisped). That combo goes great with the Rossi's rich tomato sauce, melted fresh mozzarella and snippets of fresh basil.

When split between two hungry people, this wonderful burger and pizza fest will have you both leaving with big smiles on your face, and excellent leftovers for later.