Rosie's Italian Grille
606 North McCord Road
Toledo, OH 43615
Since 1983, the Barone family has operated Rosie's in Toledo. Originally, a family style pizzeria known for "hot mamma bread" and rectangular thick crust pizza, Rosie's had three locations and even a frozen foods line in local grocery stores. Times have changed. While the original pizzeria on Sylvania Avenue remains Rosie's Italian Grille on McCord Road takes a swift turn from pizzeria to trattoria as executive Chef, Chris DeWart, attempts to create a more authentic Italian menu in Toledo.
For purists, Toledo offers few options for true Italian cuisine. Chef DeWart comes to Rosie's from Ciao and a stint as an executive chef for Dana Corporation. The menu at Rosie's Italian Grille features Florida grouper and yellow tail snapper with a choice of eight tempting preparations. I chose the grouper ($23) with "tomato caper salsa", as it seemed closest to Mediterranean cuisine. It was both light and delicious. Pasta's range from baked rigatoni ($14) to a seafood with mushrooms pasta ($20) featuring shrimp, scallops, fresh mushrooms, asparagus, capers and white wine. Rosie's still allows diners to choose their own pasta shape to accompany the selection of sauces. Carne includes a stuffed bell pepper with an undefined "meat blend", rice and tomato sauce ($16) as well as New Zealand baby lamp chops ($22), and a 14 oz. veal porterhouse ($27).
My party was particularly pleased with the Caprese salad appetizer and noted that the mozzerella was as fresh as the sliced tomatoes and basil leaves. We inhaled the Zingerman's bread on the table, eagerly mopping up the balsamic vinaigrette remaining on our Caprese plate. While many of the entrees are creative departures from an Italian menu, Chef DeWart manages to avoid the themed chain restaurant cliche of serving some version of garlic mashed potatoes with the selection of carne. The list of optional side dishes includes sauteed spinach ($5), an Italian classic. For hometown traditionalists, Rosie's signature pizzas and "hot momma bread" are still on the menu. When we learned that none of the desserts were made in-house, we opted for coffee and cappucino. The dessert list includes tiramisu ($4), key lime pie ($4), cannoli ($3) and some form of chocolate cake ($4).
The McCord Road building is completely redone and includes an intimate bar with brightly colored Venetian style glass lighting and Thursday through Saturday night, features live music. We appreciated the subdued volume of a talented Jazz trio. The main dining room is comfortable, with simple booths, tables and quietly tasteful decor. It also features a lovely ceramic tiled fireplace but the wall mural and institutional cieling tiles are tacky remnants from the pizza parlor days. With the new Rosie's patio in clear view, I could easily imagine myself dining al fresco during the summer months.
The wait staff was pleasant, but unknowledgable about the menu or proper wine service. The waitress asked, "Have you ever had this wine before?" in lieu of pouring a small taste for me to check for the condition of this particular bottle. With this preface, it is probably no surprise that she flopped the bottle onto my glass as she poured it.
In spite of the need to increase the transition to fine dining with more service staff training, this is a bold departure from the old Rosie's and, with such an ambitious chef and sous chef, it should continue to become more refined as the menu evolves.
“Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Rosie's Italian Grille