Zellers: Rosie’s Italian Grille offers pizza — and elegant favoritesWritten by Don Zellers | | email@example.com
Rosie’s Italian Grille
606 N. McCord Road
(419) 866-5007 • www.rosiesitaliangrille.com
Open: Mon./Tues. 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.;
Wed./Thurs. 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.;
Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.;
Sat. noon to 11 p.m.; Sun. 4 to 9 p.m.
We went to Rosie’s Italian Grille knowing that it wasn’t going to be exactly like the “old” Rosie’s restaurants that were scattered about the Toledo area just a few short years ago.
Of course, having a restaurant with “Rosie’s” in the name and not having pizza served in it would be like “Two and a Half Men” not having Charlie Sheen in it — ridiculous. So, yes, they still serve their great-tasting pizza. They also still have the famous “Rosie’s Hot Mama Bread” that at one time was so popular, they sold it in local grocery stores.
While you will find many of your favorites from the past on the menu, the overall atmosphere is more elegant. The interior of the restaurant is lined with small booths separated by hanging draperies and burgundy valences creating an intimate, almost cozy atmosphere. The dining room’s fireplace adds to that feeling as do the ornate light fixtures hovering above the tables. The walls sport a faux brick look and are dotted with Greek and Italian murals adding an old-world feel to the décor.
You have the option to experience the serenity of dining on Rosie’s Italian Grille’s Tuscan-style outdoor patios during the summer months — or during the winter, thanks to the outdoor heating system.
In addition to offering fine Italian food, Rosie’s has a nice array of seafood, steaks, baby lamb chops and some less formal Italian dishes like pizza and stromboli. Daily specials provide additional choices, including the freshest seafood flown in daily from the Florida Keys, steaks from Chicago Stockyard, handmade pastas, soups and desserts.
If you need help creating a unique combo of pizza toppings to challenge your palate, the “gourmet” pizza section should be right up your alley. These pizzas come on a thin cracker-ish cheese crust and feature some interesting pie toppers like spinach, artichokes, alfredo sauce, asiago cheese and, of course, feta.
If you decide to order the “Spicy Papa’s Ultimate” from the gourmet section, a buck will go to “Chicks for Charity.” Tasty pizza. Good charity. Everyone wins.
The gourmet mushroom appetizer is a must try for those among us who love the fungus. It’s a crostini-lined bowl filled with Smurf houses swimming in a garlic-infused cream broth. It was off the charts. My wife can’t stop raving about it.
The soup of the day was conch chowder, which I enjoyed once years ago while wandering around Key West. However, I went with the Lobster bisque. Somehow I managed to go my whole life without ever having tried any sort of bisque until a few months ago — now I can’t get enough.
The lobster was plentiful and fresh, but its flavor didn’t blend into the bisque as well as I would have liked. The seafood and tomato flavors were both very strong and seemed to battle for supremacy in my bowl.
I love getting lasagna when I go out to an Italian place. When they bring out that mountain of meat, cheese and noodles — all covered in marinara sauce — it’s like Christmas Day 1978 for me. That’s when I got the “Star Wars” Death Star Space Station play set, rendering all subsequent Christmas gifts of my childhood inferior. In other words, I am a pretty big fan of lasagna.
Well, this lasagna made me feel more like when I left the theater after seeing “Return of the Jedi” for the first time — a little disappointed. It didn’t taste bad, but the noodle-to-meat ratio was a bit off and it could have been cheesier.
On the flip side, I am happy to report that the stromboli is still a cut above most “mortal” strombolis you will encounter. I used to make the trip to Rosie’s specifically for some of their Italian bread dough packed with meat, cheese and veggies. That practice will likely be resurrected after rediscovering how good it is.
Betsy Barone runs a pastry shop out of the restaurant, “Betsie’s Pastries,” which offers outside catering and creates all the desserts at Rosie’s. If you want a sweet finish to your meal, they will bring out a tray of Betsy’s award-winning delicacies of decadence. Confections are created fresh daily and the choices change constantly.
Betsy may be married to the owner, but her pastries stand on their own. The delicious-looking choices included key lime pie, tiramisu, panna cotta, coconut carrot cake and raspberry-filled cannoli pastry puffs. Rosie’s also has a spumone and gellato bar for those looking for something more in the ice cream realm.
After some serious internal debate, the panna cotta got the nod. I had never tried this concoction, but its outward resemblance to chocolate mousse intrigued me. Panna cotta is a popular Italian dessert made by simmering cream, milk and sugar together, mixing it with gelatin and letting it cool. Don’t let the gelatin scare you away from this tremendous treat. Its consistency and taste are more like a mousse or a cream pie filling than a bowl of Jell-O. A crown of delicious Frangelico cream topped it off nicely.
I have heard a few people say that the prices are a bit high at Rosie’s Italian Grille, and I can understand where they are coming from. However, the large portions, old-world décor and good service put it on equal footing with other fine dining options in the area. Plus, they offer deals throughout the week to save you some dough.
Every Wednesday is “Wino Wednesday” at Rosie’s, offering a good deal on the abundant selection of local and imported wines. Rosie’s offers $10 off all bottles more than $29 for dining patrons.
The bar offers half-off pizza and appetizers Sunday through Thursday. That might explain why that area was packed with myriad people jamming out to Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” on a nondescript Wednesday night in Toledo.
Don Zellers is co-producer of “Fred LeFebvre and the Morning News” and co-host of “The Benchwarmers” on News Talk 1370 WSPD. He is also the station’s Good Swill Ambassador.