Posts Tagged ‘Veal’

Rocco Ristorante

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 by virginia

Rocco Ristorante is an old school Italian joint down in the Village that’s been around for years. It has become one of our more standard destinations for Sunday night dinner with the family, as the restaurant serves solid food at pretty reasonable prices. The atmosphere is warm and homey, with lots of pictures hanging on the wall with all of the famous people who have dined there.

Our meal always starts with a round of bruschetta on the house. Thick slices of toasted Italian bread are covered with chopped tomato, a little bit of chopped onion, some garlic, basil, and a healthy dose of olive oil. It’s a simple dish but always perfectly seasoned and delicious.

Tomato bruschetta

The regular bread is decent, though it’s better when served warm. It has a somewhat crispy crust but the insides are a bit dense. I like the chewiness though, and it’s slightly sweet, perfect for slathering with salty butter.

Bread basket

Josh and I went halfsies on a caesar salad and the beef carpaccio. The menu says that the caesar is served for two, but they never give us any problems when we order for just one person. The dressing is really well prepared, creamy but not gloppy or overwhelming. I like the homemade croutons, which add a nice garlicky crunch.

Caesar salad

The beef carpaccio is a huge portion of thinly sliced raw beef on top of a bed of arugula. There are big chunks of shaved parmesan cheese on top, which I love. It’s lightly dressed with just a little olive oil and salt, and I always squeeze some lemon over the top and get a nice crank of freshly ground black pepper. The beef always tastes fresh and slightly sweet, pairing perfectly with the salty parmesan, bitter arugula, and tangy lemon juice.

Beef carpaccio

Linguine with white clam sauce is one of Josh’s favorite dishes, and they prepare it very well at Rocco. The pasta is always al dente, and there are lots of big, juicy clams scattered on top, still in their shells. The sauce is heavy on the garlic, which we enjoy, but is still light and not overly greasy. The flavor of the clams definitely takes center stage.

Linguine with white clam sauce

I usually get the chicken parmesan but on this particular evening, I decided to go with the veal. Both renditions are very good, with thick cutlets pounded out a bit and nicely breaded and fried. There’s lots of mozzarella cheese melted on top, and the red sauce is definitely a high point – sweet and tangy. I actually don’t have a preference between the chicken and the veal. Both are flavorful in their own way, and the meat is always tender. I just wish the restaurant would serve the dish with a side of pasta instead of the boring, mushy, buttery vegetables (carrots and zucchini this time) that come on the plate.

Veal parmesan

We don’t always get dessert but we’ve tasted the tiramisu before, which is always good. The zabaglione with fresh strawberries, however, is incredible. The zabaglione is thick, creamy, and rich, not too overpowering with alcohol flavor, and goes perfectly with sweet strawberries. Josh’s sister was tempted to lick the bowl clean, that’s how delicious it was.

Overall we always leave Rocco full and satisfied. The food is uncomplicated but solid Italian fare. The menu has all of the classic dishes, and nothing is ever a surprise. They have a great red sauce, which is important for any Italian restaurant. Service is always warm and accommodating, and the atmosphere is low key. I’m sure the restaurant will continue to be a part of our Sunday night tradition.

Rocco Ristorante
181 Thompson St. between Houston and Bleecker St.
New York, NY

Ralph’s Ristorante Italiano

Thursday, December 16th, 2010 by virginia

Ralph’s is another neighborhood restaurant that I’ve walked past many times and never got around to trying. One Saturday night we were looking for a new Italian restaurant to eat at with Josh’s family and we decided to check out Ralph’s. We looked at the menu and it looked like they served a lot of classic red sauce Italian dishes at pretty reasonable prices so we decided to give it a shot.

While we were looking at the menu trying to decide what to order, the bread guy came around and gave each of us a slice of warm rustic peasant bread. It had a nice crispy crust and a slight sourdough tang to it.

Slice of rustic Italian bread

Josh and I decided to split a caesar salad and crostini di mozzarella to start. The romaine in the caesar salad was nice and fresh, and it was tossed with just the right amount of creamy dressing. There was lots of parmesan, which I love, but it was still light and refreshing, not too rich or heavy.

Caesar salad

The crostini di mozzarella was fried wedges of breaded mozzarella cheese. Each wedge was pretty large so it was a generous portion. The cheese perfectly melted in the middle, with a gooey, chewy texture that I had been craving. The accompanying tomato sauce was slightly spicy, giving it a nice kick but wasn’t overwhelming in heat.

Crostini di mozzarella

I usually get chicken parmesan whenever we try out a new Italian restaurant but I wasn’t in the mood for it. Instead I tried my other standard dish, pasta with bolognese sauce. The pasta was rigatoni with lots of ridges, which helped the meaty sauce cling to it better. The bolognese had a rich, deep flavor, and even though the portion wasn’t super big, I had trouble getting through half the bowl. I thought it was really tasty, however, and took home the leftovers for lunch.

Rigatoni bolognese

Josh got the veal saltimbocca alla romana, which was veal covered with spinach and mozzarella in a brown sauce. I know that doesn’t sound appetizing, but it didn’t look that great either. The veal was nicely cooked but the dish lacked flavor and seasoning. It was surprisingly bland, and definitely needed more salt and acid to perk it up. Josh was pretty disappointed with his dish, as was his dad, who ordered the same thing.

Veal saltimbocca alla romana

Josh’s veal dish came with a side of pasta, which was spaghetti with marinara sauce. The spaghetti was al dente and the sauce was sweet and tangy.

Spaghetti with marinara sauce

Overall we were pleasantly surprised by both the food and ambiance at Ralph’s. The outside of the restaurant isn’t much to look at but the inside was surprisingly warm and cozy, with an understated decor. Food-wise, the red sauce is definitely the way to go. The only disappointing dish of the evening was the veal saltimbocca but all of the pasta dishes we had were really flavorful and well prepared. Josh’s mom ended up ordering the chicken parm so I did get to taste it and thought it was a pretty good version. Prices are very reasonable, portions pretty generous, and I definitely think it’s a viable option for our traditional Sunday night dinners with the family.

Ralph’s Ristorante Italiano
862 9th Ave. at 56th St.
New York, NY