Inevitably, when a long-lived, traditional mom-and-pop Italian restaurant closes its doors, and new restauranteurs move in, nostalgic patrons may be critical of the new establishment.
Rossi’s Italian Eatery recently opened at 5800 W. 38th Ave., the space where Mama Sannino’s served memorable meals for a decade.
I never ate at Mama Sannino’s, so I chose to leave the comparisons to others and just enjoy an evening at a new restaurant.
The atmosphere is a definite step up from nostalgic Italian-American: frosted windows facing the street, black tablecloths and napkins, real glassware, no kitsch.
I chose an entrée everyone would recognize and have an opinion of: Old Fashions ($18), the equivalent of spaghetti and meatballs (or sausage) in red sauce. I declined the classic chianti ($8/8 oz. glass) in favor of my personal favorite, montepulciano ($12/8 oz. glass), vowing to pair the chianti with the staff-recommended Mama’s Lasagna ($22) on my next visit.
I really don’t like spaghetti and meatballs. But I do like thick, hand-cut pasta and artisan, locally made sausage (from Belfiore Italian Market, two doors down), and I’m game for any variation on red sauce. The sausage and red sauce were more than good. The texture of the pasta was wonderful. The serving size was just right, but more than enough if I’d started with an appetizer or salad.
My wife ordered Chicken Piccata ($23). I mopped up the survivors: the chicken was cooked right, not overdone, and lemon and capers in the butter sauce were right, not overpowering.
We asked for dessert offerings, and I stopped listening when I heard “chocolate-dipped cannoli” – when Pasquini’s bakery on South Broadway was open, I lived for that. We split one ($5). It disappeared in less than a minute (but yes, we did taste it).
Final grade? I’m looking forward to going back.