Atmosphere: A bright, informal family place.
Price Range: Complete pasta, veal or chicken dinners from $3.40 to $5.95; pizza from $3.75 to 8.30.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday. 11 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, noon to 11 p.m.
Special Facilities: Seating and menus for children; free parking; accessible by wheelchair.
Reservations: A good idea on weekends.
Credit Cards: None, but personal checks are accepted.
Outside, Rocco's looks like just another pizza chain, but through the wooden doors is a bright, Italian cafe with red-haired mama who directs traffic to the tables.
Rocco's is a family place extraordinaire - at 6:30 on a Tuesday night nearly every one of the restaurant's 35 tables included children. The noise level is high, but infectiously jovial. And the close proximity of the tables encourages strangers to seek assistance from the already-served customers next to them.
On the night my husband and I took our 3-year-old son and his friend, we were able to successfully steer two young women on our left to the Sicilian pizza and a grandmother on our right to the Italian rum cheese cake.
When we arrived, however, Rocco's was nearly empty and we missed such menu assistance. Friends had highly recommended the pizza, which looked tempting. Rocco's offers two kinds, the flat, thin New York style or the thick-crusted Sicilian or Chicago pizza. After deciding on the medium Sicilian, we then consulted over the topping. Rocco's menu invites customers to "invent your own pizza" and what to put on it and offers a whimsical list to choose from: "pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage, tired toothbrush bristles, Italian black olives, onions, ham, shrimp, lizard legs, green peppers, anchovies, sauteed worms, bacon, meatballs, extra cheese and caviar ($12 extra)."
Since our family's tastes are not quite so exotic, we settled for the old standbys, pepperoni and sausage, $4.95.
My husband and I though the children could handle most of the pizza, a mistaken idea we found later, and so we ordered two dinners, he the fettuccini Alfredo, at $3.95, I the chicken caciatore, $4.50.
After picking our order, our waitress brought two salads, which accompany the dinners, and a large basket of nicely seasoned garlic bread, which everyone dived into.
When the main courses began arriving at the table, we groaned at our mistake. The chicken cacciatore was a huge portion with several large pieces of chicken smothered in a tomato sauce with fresh mushrooms and green papers. It was accompanied by a very good bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce. The fettuccini was an equally large portion, but not as good - the cheese was overpowered by the butter taste. The pizza was a standout. According to the menu it was 79 cubic inches of delicious doughy crust with the pepperoni, sausage and sauce hidden underneath a blanket of cheese.
After everyone had eaten much more than they should, we [WORD ILLEGIBLE] had two pieces of pizza left, which we took home with us.
Dessert was still to come. We decided to share a cannoli, $1, and a piece of the homemade Italian run cake, $1.50. The cannoli was a nice version, but the heavy cake, layered with two kinds of frosting and topped with whipped cream, drew the most enthusiastic bites from our table.
The entire dinner, with cokes all around and two coffees, was a satisfying $18.95