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Dining Out: Rocco’s Pizza impresses with classic Italian cuisine

Rocco’s Pizza—the longstanding Bay Ridge eatery that’s also home to the neighborhood’s yearly Pizza Eating Contest—is so much more than their large pies.

With a newly revamped back room and an impressive selection of classic Italian specialties to match (all at a price that’s easy on your wallet), Rocco’s is pretty hard to beat.

“We want everyone to feel at home here,” said owner Daniel Loccisano of the family business, founded in April, 1980 by his father, Rocco. Since then, Daniel and his brother, Joseph, have gone on to carry the Rocco’s torch. “We wanted to keep the Rocco’s that Bay Ridge knows and loves alive.”

And, with an array of meals that taste like they were made by your own Italian grandmother, it’s no surprise Rocco’s is a multi-generational family-run restaurant.

First, a friend and I sampled Rocco’s famous Fried Calamari appetizer. A small plate will cost you $13.50 and a large will run you $21.75 but, boy, is every bite worth it. So fresh you can almost taste the sea, Rocco’s fried calamari is the perfect mix of crispy and tender. Paired with a bowl of marinara sauce, each bite had us coming back for more (and filling up before the main dish).

Next, we enjoyed a dish of Penne alla Vodka ($9.95 a plate). Sautéed with onions and garlic, heavy cream, fresh tomatoes and Pecorino Romano, the pasta (which can come in any shape you like—from spaghetti to angel hair) was impeccable. It tasted just like Sunday dinner. Each bite had us saying “just one more.”

For our main course, we dove into the eatery’s revered Chicken Rollatini ($15.95 with a side of pasta). The chicken—rolled with ham and fresh mozzarella and doused in mushrooms and a sweet and creamy Marsala sauce—was tender and delectable. This dish was our favorite (oh how we wish it were included on the eatery’s two-for-$20 entrée dine-in-deal, available Monday through Wednesday).

We also sampled a cooked-to-perfection helping of Fillet of Sole Francese (also $15.95 with a side of pasta). The pan fried sole—doused in white wine and lemon sauce—could appeal to just about any palate, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of fish.

Finally, Chef Carlo sent us out a plate of grilled chicken and sautéed broccoli ($11.95 with a side of pasta). Light and refreshing, this dish was among our favorites, not too heavy and not too fancy; Rocco’s proved that its staff can knock even the simplest of meals out of the ballpark.

For dessert, we indulged in two crispy, creamy cannoli ($3.30 apiece). Light, fluffy and flaky (as all the best cannoli are), Rocco’s cannoli were truly heavenly – and in good company on a mouthwatering dessert menu that also includes cheesecake ($4.15 apiece), zeppole (85 cents apiece or three for $1.65) and fried Oreos ($1.10 apiece).

It’s no secret that Rocco’s Pizza is a (deserving) fan-favorite amongst Ridgeites but, according to Loccisano, the feeling is mutual.

“Bay Ridge is great; you can’t beat it,” he said, thankful for the eatery’s decades-worth of dedicated diners. “If you can make it in Bay Ridge, you can make it anywhere.”

ROCCO’S PIZZERIA
7818 Fifth Avenue
718-238-7658
Open Monday through Sunday
11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Delivery and catering available
www.roccospizzaon5th.com

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