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Dec 27, 2001 10:44 AM

Christmas Eve at Red Rose Carroll Gardens

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Just a little recommendation:

Had dinner Christmas Eve at Red Rose (Smith St. at Union) with my VERY picky family, and we really enjoyed it. It's not fancy or terribly "gourmet", in fact I advise most to stay away from specials that have too many ingredients, but it's a friendly, charming place, run by the nicest guy who gave me and my step-mother a little peck on the cheek when sending us on our way. So sweet.

I had ceasar salad, and very good mussels on linguine (white). I also recommend the shrimp and artichoke hearts on angel hair, and, if you have the appetite, the rigatoni alla vodka is amazing.

RR is such a nice, less expensive alternative to the rest of Smith Street, and it's nice to patronize a bit of "old" Carroll Gardens.

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    david sprague

    wow, had not thought of red rose in a long time, although it was a favorite of mine back when i lived in the neighborhood (just a few months back in early 1987)....i remember it being pretty much as you described, particularly the friendliness (and the willingness to let patrons our ultra-freely from the gratis post-dinner anisette)...i''d pretty much eliminated the whole smith street area as a potential dining destination after having mediocre-to-terrible meals at all three of the emperor's new clothes newcomers that neighborhood friends suggested....but a return visit to red rose sounds just fine to me!

    7 Replies
    1. re: david sprague

      So nice to hear from another RR afficianado. Since Helen's restaurant on Court St., another of my faves, closed I've been feeling a little longing for the Old Carroll Gardens, so RR was a special treat. I think you'll find it much the same- there's a new awning, and the night I went the brick oven pizzas were not on the menu- an old budget favorite when I was truly destitute but still wanted to eat out- but they may just not have been doing pizza on Christmas Eve.

      Another old Carroll Gardens thing, which chowhounds may or may not know about, is the lunch counter at Frank's Delicatessan, on Smith St., just across from the 2nd St. exit of the Carroll St. subway stop. While it can be hit and miss, all of the cooking is done is done by the owner, Rose's, parents, so much of it is terrific. Escarole, fried zuchini and eggplant parmigiana are great, the ziti and garlic spaghetti are good, and if you are blessed and lucky and get there on a day when they are serving patate melanzani (potatoes and eggplant) it is fantastic. They serve lunch dishes from pretty early on (as I recall I used to even pick some of them up in the morning on my way to work) until about 2 or so. The lunch plate is only $5.

      1. re: annab
        Josh Lichtman

        Red Rose produces uninspired souless Italian american food. There red sauce is undercooked and they use poor quality produce and over cook the vegetables as well as the low grade pasta. I used to go there in the early 90s cause it was cheap, well its not anymore. They almost tripled there prices in the last decade and for what? Food that can be easily prepared at home. This place does not merit a discussion on this board. Folks, lets discuss serious Italian food. I'll start it off. Order any veal dish at Park side in Corona and you will never ever think about Red Rose again.

        1. re: Josh Lichtman

          But someone living in Carroll Gardens might want red sauce Italian nearby, not shlepping to Corona. Many people have a soft spot for one or another neighborhood place. They should be able to exchange information without being told what merits discussion on this board.

          1. re: Alan Emdin

            OK, I'll chime in.

            Having had an excellent experience there about five years ago, I went with my girlfriend and a couple of others to the RR. At 9:00 on a Wednesday night, we were treated like a bad smell. The Roast Chicken was good, but the rest was extremely ordinary and not cheap, as we had remembered. My puttanesca was cold. Salmon was overcooked. Not to mention having the captain practically ram a bad bottle of wine down our throats. This was December 2001, and we have not been back since.

            If I'm looking for red sauce in the hood, I'm trying Ninos or Marco Polo first. Though sadly the options for this kind of place are diminishing in CG, RR is not making a strong case for the survival of the breed.

            1. re: lars

              If I may, one of the things that is emphasized on this board is ordering strategy- as in, many restaurants which may be poor or mediocre may have one terrific dish. RR was disparaged for having poor red sauce, and hence declared awful, but you'll notice in my post that I did not recommend the red sauce, nor did I claim the cuisine "inspired." In fact, I never order red sauce or puttanesca in a restaurant because generally homemade is better. (this included my recent sojourn in Italy). So, ordering strategy at RR- simpler is better, and the rigatoni alla vodka is fantastic. And I agree talking about what "merits" discussion here is pointless- after all some of the best threads have been about hot dogs, Ray's Pizza and breakfast cereals.

              I am sorry to hear that some have had a bad experience with the service. I did not find that to be the case when I went, but certainly if I had had the bad experience described I would not want to go back either. Perhaps the service has improved, perhaps the manager decided he liked my family, perhaps the other poor soul just went on an off night. Who knows?

              1. re: annab


                The first time I went, I ordered, and devoured, a superior Puttanesca. Sorry, but I would hope that a professional chef in a Red Sauce joint would at least serve it hot. Nothing should ever be served cold.

                And don't shove a bad wine at me. Respect my judgment.

                Something changed. For the worse.

                Bully to you if you had a good experience.

            2. re: Alan Emdin
              Josh Lichtman

              I am willing to travel beacause I love delicious food. I live in Park Slope but I feel like a sucker going to Park Slope Italian restaurants such as Cucina or lousy places like the Red Rose in Carroll Gardens. I have no loyalty for bad local restaurants. I will gladly take the train/bus to Park Side in Corona beacause it is far better than anything around me and I reccomend this place to everyone on this board. Thursday night is Osso Buco(especially good) as is all the veal and basically everything

      2. Just had to add my 2 cents to this - over the last 10 years I repeatedly went to Red Rose and got fair value for little money. The last time was over a year ago. My party of 3 was told to wait 10 minutes for a table. We got glasses of wine and sat at the bar. An hour later, after at least 10 couples were seated before us, a table for 4 opened up. Just then a group of 5 walked in and they got the table. The bar tender was mortified, but the jerk son of the owner's response when I complained was "I'll never be able to seat those 5 again tonight, you'll have to wait a little longer." I said we'd been there since 7 p.m., and the jerk said "Yeah, well I've been here since 8 a.m."

        RR has jacked up the prices, and is pretending to a quality of food and service they can't even begin to understand, let alone offer their customers. This is one of the few times I hope the neighborhood joint goes belly up. And that disgusting grey and mauve "flower" arrangement in the window should be taken as a warning of what the place is all about.