Everything’s Coming Up Rosie’s
Rosie’s Bistro in Bronxville serves up mangia-sized portions of appealing Italian comfort
food in a neighborhood setting, where you can unbutton your collar and relax
Be all that you can be. That phrase rolled around in my head all nightlong. Everything about Rosie’s Bistro—from the low-key, unmistakably Italian decor to the friendly, bustling staff, to the menu loaded with Italian favorites—felt at once like a place I’d been to many times before, and like one I’d be happy to return to many more times. It was without pretense and suffered no delusions of grandeur. According to co-owner Marco Lojano, he and partner Dean Racanelli wanted to open “a neighborhood place, not a destination—a hangout where people can come, with their families if they want, a couple times a week; where the food is comfortable, but the specials maybe offer something more interesting.” Rosie’s Bistro is exactly, and wonderfully, that.
The menu is chock-full of dishes you just want to eat. Some were worth raving about and some merely good, but there was nothing we tried that missed the mark. The bocconcini forno—little golf-ball-size creamy mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, baked, and served atop a tomato-herb sauce—was in the first category; equally beloved by all at our table.
Incredibly tender octopus had not even a hint of the toothy resistance of octopus cooked just a minute too long. Its flavor rang true and clear, enhanced, in part, by the balance of slightly peppery arugula salad and the sweet crunch of fennel.
Arugula appeared on the plate with beef carpaccio. The tender, paper-thin slices of beef had the cool, deep flavor that makes this dish so universally popular, and were drizzled with a judicious amount of lemon-olive oil. The lemony arugula salad made a classic and appealing counterpoint to the heady beef.
There was no counterpoint to the over-the-top rich penne russa (a.k.a. penne Ã la vodka). This dish was also all it should be—creamy enough to send shivers down your spine, with just enough acid to enable you to take yet another forkful. This is not, if you’ll pardon the double entendre, a dish for the faint of heart. It takes a dedicated eater to be able to down the entire bowl—even my never-full teenager cried Uncle before he could finish.
The portions here are generous but generally not off-putting. That is, there is a lot on the plate but not to the point of being overwhelming. Bear in mind that it is likely you’ll leave with one or more lunches in hand. Given that the prices here are not astronomic (pastas average around $15 and meat, fish, and poultry dishes hover around $19), it’s especially nice to know you’ll be able to enjoy your meal more than once.
The chupin di mare—a dead ringer for what I’d call a zuppa di pesce—was brimming with clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp, scallops, and red snapper. The flavors of the moist and tender seafood were enhanced by a light white-wine-and-tomato broth. And then there was the buried treasure: a big pile of linguine which absorbed the tomato broth, and the flavors and juice from the seafood lay begging to be slurped.
Pasta di bosco also featured linguine bloated with the flavors around it. This time, it was mushrooms, artichoke, and the big pay-off—truffle oil. For avowed carnivores, this meatless entrÃ©e might not do; better to opt for the costelette vitello. While the large, savory veal chop was accompanied by the kind of buttery roasted potatoes you can’t stop eating, it was still the veal that stole the show. Despite the fact that the chop came to the table medium rather than the medium-rare I had ordered, it was tender enough to cut with a fork, moist and very tasty.
Large portions of food we loved should have precluded dessert, but we forged ahead. Key lime pie was pudding-like and light, and a perfect balance of sweet and tart. A lemon bodino was less spectacular—it tasted like ordinary pound cake and pudding rather than a special zabaglione custard—but a torta di cioccolata was moist and unexpectedly light, despite its intense espresso and chocolate flavors.
This is a restaurant that accomplishes just what it has set out to do: be a part of its community, and offer an easy, comfortable, and lively place for neighbors to eat accessible Italian food. When owner Marco Lojano said, “We are very lucky to be here,” I thought, And we are fortunate to have you.
ROSIE’S BISTRO ITALIANO
10 Palmer Ave., Bronxville
Sun. to Thur. 11:30 am-10 pm,
Fri. and Sat. 11:30 am-11 pm