Although Italians originally invented pasta as a fastener to keep Sicily from floating away, they abandoned it for less delicious moorings after locals on both sides kept snacking their way toward separation. Tether your taste buds to today's Groupon to Rocco’s Ristorante Italiano, located in the Quality Inn Mic Mac hotel in Dartmouth. Choose between two dining options:
• For $25, you get $50 worth of dinner and drinks.
• For $59, you get a tableside dinner for two (a $144 value).
Rocco’s Ristorante Italiano serves up gourmet Southern Italian cuisine with a touch of local flair and a caress of European influence. Original owner Rocco Scarola opened his house of penne and prosciutto after moving to Canada from Italy, and his marinara-doused menu boasts pastas such as the linguine alla pescatore, interlacing a medley of shrimp, scallops, and calamari ($21). The veal or beef fillet distracts steak knives from bullying defenseless soup spoons ($32), and the chicken cordon bleu dons a garland of black-forest ham and swiss cheese ($18). Those who opt for the tableside dinner enjoy a culinary show bested only by the now-banned practice of tomato juggling. Talented chefs festoon tables with plates custom crafted to suit every diner's palate, including the perennial favourite, Rocco's signature caesar salad. The entree selections change weekly but consistently pack a proteinaceous punch of seafood, pasta, veal, and chicken, complemented by a bottle of wine and two mugs of specialty coffee.
Rocco’s Ristorante Italiano
Rocco Scarola left his hometown of Bari, Italy in 1967 and spent the next quarter century honing his culinary expertise in some of the best restaurants in Halifax. By 1992, he was ready to share his knowledge of Southern Italian cuisine––as well as his mother's treasured oven-baked pasta recipe––with the Nova Scotian masses. Together with his wife Gail and head chef Tracey Cromwell, Rocco finally realized his dream of creating a refined, yet relaxed atmosphere where people could come together to enjoy a good meal, hearty conversation, and an opera-singing wait staff. In 2008, he passed his enterprise to his partners of eight years, Hanna and Robert Gibson, who continue to honor the Italian traditions and excellent service that has made Rocco's a success for almost two decades.
Today, diners can still find Rocco's mother's pasta on the brunch menu, featured alongside Rocco's own coveted pizza recipe, built upon his signature handmade crust. Local seafood and meats from nearby Martock Glan Farms put a modern, sustainable spin on classics such as veal limone and zuppa di pesce dell'aragosta (lobster and fiddlehead bisque), and salads are tossed tableside to prove both the freshness of the ingredients and the existence of gravity. Signature pastas include a spaghetti carbonara topped with garlic and scallops and meat lasagna layered with béchamel and a secret ingredient, though servers make no secret of the fact that all pastas are available in whole grain or gluten-free versions for guests with sensitivities.