My friend Tom suggested Rosario’s Italian Kitchen in Rosedale for a recent dinner and I confess I got darn yansy when I discovered it wasn’t far from “The Gold Club” on Route 40 (a somewhat notorious bar where people go to watch strippers!). I wasn’t expecting much as we got closer but Rosario’s turned out to be a dining experience where one pleasant surprise followed another.
The first surprise is that the restaurant itself is a large free-standing nice looking, new building.(Rosario’s open in September of 2012).
By luck, our next surprise was that we got a parking space right near the front door! As we helped an older friend who uses a cane and can get a tad wobbly to the front door, suddenly Rosario’s host – a handsome young man with a great smile – appeared out of nowhere to hold the door open for us so our friend or us wouldn’t have to worry about that. We were escorted to the nearby dining room which – surprise! – proved to be large and attractive space.
Nicely, the host brought over to our table a plate of parmesan topped rolls with a bowl of marinara dipping sauce – just the thing to munch on while we read through the menu! It proved to be just the thing because Rosario’s menu is “diner big” and took us awhile to read through it.
The menu includes close to 20 appetizers (most $5 – $10), soups (MD Crab $5, othere$3), a half-dozen entrée salads (most $9 – $12), over two dozen sandwiches & wraps (Most $5 – $10 and include chips), a dozen burger variations ($5 – $9 and include fries plus lettuce, tomato, fried or raw onions and add extra cheese for $ .75). Entrees include a dozen basic Italian pasta dishes ($9-$12) and there a couple dozen seafood, chicken or veal pasta dishes (most $14-$23). (FYI – You can add a side salad to any entrée for an extra $1 ! ) If none off these strikes your fancy, well there’s also Pizza (12″ = $10- $15, 16″= $12- $17), two dozen 10″ sub sandwiches ($6 – $9), or a Stromboli for $9.
After all of that, Tom decided on the “Black & Bleu Chicken Citrus Salad” ($11), Paul opted for a Monte Christo sandwich ($8.50) and John ordered Eggplant Parmigiana ($11). After we ordered (and had devoured all of the bread sticks!), our waiter asked if we’d like more bread sticks (John said “YES, PLEASE!” with a big smile) and a few minutes later, 6 more bread sticks had appeared! (They were darn good!)
Tom’s salad arrived first on the table and made a big impression on all three of us! There was a good amount of blackened chicken. The “citrus” proved to be orange slices that looked like someone in the kitchen had peeled from fresh oranges. With tomato, red onions, a sprinkling of nuts and some cucumber, it proved a hit with Tom.
Paul’s Monte Christo was dusted with sugar and came with a big sauce of honey mustard sauce for dipping and a bowl of melon balls (Paul greatly enjoyed his sandwich and he couldn’t get enough of those melon balls!)
John’s Eggplant Parm also made quite the impression on all of us! 6 layers of fried breaded eggplant were topped by oodles of melted mozzarella and towered on top of a pile of linguine and marinara sauce with a piece of toasted garlic bread sticking up at a jaunty angle! Geez Louize! This was probably the most generous portion of eggplant parm (and then for just $11) that John has encountered in many a dining adventure! Beyond all that, it was GOOD and got his unqualified “Thumbs Up!” ! (John ended up taking half of eggplant parm home with him. And one more appreciated surprise was that our waitress packed it up for him – unlike a lot of places these days where the staff hands the customer an empty box for the customer to do the packaging!)
Somehow… Tom had to at least see what desserts were available. Another surprise, the waitress brought over a tray of special desserts. We spied a personal sized lemon meringue pie/tart ($6) and we decided to share it! (That proved to be a good decision! It was about 5″ across and ringed with whipped cream and the lemon feeling was tart and sweet and delicious!)
But if you didn’t see a dessert that caught your fancy, there’s another whole case of desserts that are there to tempt you!
Rosario’s continued to surprise us throughout our meal with great service. Our young waitress did a great job of checking in on us periodically, making sure water glasses were refilled and leaving us feeling like our business was appreciated. (The number of restaurants that don’t do this is surprising in a whole different way – but perhaps that is part of the reason why so many restaurants seem to disappear in a year or two…)
Some other surprising things about Rosario’s Italian Kitchen:
Rosario’s owned by George Protopapas (who also owns the popular Valentino’s over on Harford Rd in Parkville)
Rosario’s is open 7 days a week from 7 am to 4 in the wee hours
Rosario’s offers breakfast foods any time of the day
Rosario’s has a drive-thru take out window (but I haven’t figured out yet if you place a carry-out order online!)
Rosario’s Italian Kitchen was a pleasant surprise. The restaurant is attractive, clean and well maintained. The staff is a good team that exceeded our expectations from the moment we walked in the door. The food may not be the stuff of “foodie” dreams but it is notches above standard diner fare, portions are quite generous and we felt that we got very good value for what we paid. The three of us left pretty impressed and if you’re looking for a new place to try over in Rosedale, I’d recommend that you give Rosario’s a try. Like us, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised too!
FACTS: Rosario’s Italian Kitchen – Rosedale; 7301 Pulaski Highway (FYI – That’s Route 40 and the restaurant is not far from the intersection with Rte 95); 410-866-6181 ; http://www.rosariosbaltimore.com ; Open 7 days a week from 7 am to 4 am; Full Bar; Vegetarian options; Breakfast served all day; adjacent free parking.