I am generally reluctant to expect a lot from Italian restaurants outside of New York City, but I was pleased to discover that in , I was mistaken.
For a fairly large, open space it is a quiet, intimate environment — absolutely in tune with the quaint neighborhood feel of downtown Glen Rock. The atmosphere is casual, but elegant. The food is prepared with care, much of it locally sourced, and well presented by affable and accommodating servers who are never overbearing — qualities I find incredibly rare in any restaurant.
RoCCA, Glen Rock's Italian treasure hidden in plain sight just over the Ridgewood border, just announced a new Sunday buffet menu that will supplant their already stellar dinner fare for four hours one night every weekend.
This Sunday will be the first featuring "an array of salads, entrees and fresh fruit, all at the amazing price of $18 for adults and $9 for children 12 and under," according to a statement by restaurant management. A complementary beverage also comes with the price of admission.
But, on a cool night earlier this year when I stopped by, a number of dishes looked appealing and I was glad to try several.
I ordered the Three Cheese Ravioli as an appetizer — it was the first thing I tasted.
An instantly rewarding flavor.
The simple addition of bacon was so appropriate that it left me seriously wondering, "Why don't they put bacon on ravioli everywhere?"
A second appetizer, Prince Edward Island Mussels, was also served with a modest amount of smoked bacon — at this point I realized "subtle bacon" was emerging as a happy theme to my meal — along with a very simple white sauce. The mussels were intelligently straight forward with only slight nuances of outside embellishment, and were coupled wonderfully with a pair of freshly made, hyper-flavor-saturated crostini (Italian for "little toasts") which really caught me by surprise.
For my entree I ordered the "Goffle Farms Chicken," which is named for the locally raised poultry farm from which they derive.
A slow roasted tomato, strewn about artfully over pieces of chicken accompanied by two ricotta dumplings and garnished with parmigiano pretzel. The homemade pretzels were daring and creatively appropriate, the ricotta dumplings were outstanding (especially considering I am not usually a fan,) and the tomato was flavorful, but the chicken itself was only pretty good. Despite being flavored in very much the same "subtle bacon style" as the previous offerings, it was simply missing some kind of kick to wake it up.
Subtlety without cause usually equals boring.
I sampled two desserts and was expecting a lot from the first I tried, a homemade chipwich, but it was a pretty standard entry. Good, but nothing spectacular.
And being an inveterate consumer of creme brulee, I also wanted to try their take on the classic dessert. I generally rate creme brulee on a pass or fail scale (as I feel it's simply either correct or incorrect) and RoCCA definitely scores a correct with theirs. All the right textures and flavors.
All and all, the Glen Rock Italian spot RoCCA serves a lot of very good dishes, and cleverly without pretension. The price tag is about $20-25 an entree.
Oh, and it's BYOB, BTW, so if you plan to have wine with your dinner, don't forget to stop at beforehand.