Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Rocco's Calamari, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn NY

Many times I walked or drove past Rocco's, on a busy stretch of Fort Hamilton Parkway in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn. Watching the diners inside and out who seemed to be enjoying their food, I was eager to try this Italian outpost in a neighborhood that's become mostly Chinese.

We went on a Saturday night around 6pm and were seated quickly. (Later, the place became quite full and busy). Rocco's is not fancy in any way. The menu has most of the typical things you'd expect in storefront Italian and you can see most of the entrees because they are in big stainless steel warming trays visible behind glass.

As you probably already know, linguine in a warming tray is never gonna be "al dente."

Because this place is called "Rocco's Calamari" we did have to try the calamari as an appetizer. It was good, but not special. The red dipping sauce was pale in color and flavor. An order of shrimp cocktail yielded 6 HUGE shrimp, nicely peeled. I was disappointed that the pulpo (octopus) salad on the menu was no longer offered.

I ordered the baked ziti based on eyeballing it in its tray. My 2 companions ordered chicken parm and the linguine with garlic and oil. We ordered a carafe of wine as the waitress brought a basket of excellent fresh Italian bread. No fancy seasoned olive oil for dipping -- just little packets of butter like you get at a diner.

My baked ziti was fine, but just like you'd get at any storefront Italian place. Its red sauce seemed canned and not even as good as Ragu. The chicken parm was the same. The linguine was of course over-soft, and it tasted like garlic from a jar in the oil & garlic.

The bill, including tax, came to only $53 for the wine, 2 appetizers, one soft drink, and three entrees. So this is what Rocco's is: a good value destination. You can sit and drink and talk and eat a lot without spending a lot.
On balance, we were disappointed and won't return. I will say, the place was full and lively and most folks seemed quite happy. If you aren't a serious foodie, it's a decent choice.

Rocco's Calamari on Urbanspoon

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