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Oct 18, 2007 12:12 PM

I just have to say this: I hate Rocco's on Bleecker

For years, I have sucked it up and forked over $$ for the occasional mediocre croissant and "cannoli" there, mostly when I found myself in need and short on time/other options. I have also tolerated the horrendous (and ignorant) service, telling myself that it never pays to make a fuss (or enemies) in one's own neighborhood. I was entertaining a couple of out-of-town friends the other night, and we decided to pick up some late-night dessert on our way back to my place. We ended up at Rocco's, where they chose an assortment of mini pastries and cannoli. I held my tongue as the counter "server" distractedly took their order, dropping the pieces into the pastry box. I have never experienced what I would call efficient or professional service at Rocco's, so I was not surprised. I did get annoyed, however, when the "server" absent-mindedly put chocolate-flavored filling into the "cannoli" shells. I stepped in and reminded him what our order was. He took his sweet time filling the new shells, and we then stepped over to the cashier. There were at least three other customers standing there waiting to pay/order while several employees chatted among themselves. One woman actually asked the ringleader (I won't call him a real manager) if she could be helped and was ignored. Meanwhile, after telling us our total price and seeing me with $$ in hand, our server stopped to answer the phone in the middle of tieing the bakery ribbon. I swear, there were at least three other useless-looking people standing by who could have answered it, but he chose to hold us up. We stood there, money-in-hand, glaring at him for a full three or four minutes, while he blabbed to someone in Spanish, who apparently was not a customer, but merely looking to speak with an employee there. Across a two-foot counter, we three customers (plus other frustrated would-be customers) stared at him in disbelief, while all of us were ignored. The "manager" tells one of the idle female employees to help out the other customers. Our server walks away with the phone, presumably to find whomever the caller was looking for. Had I been alone, I would have left at this point. But I did not want to disappoint my friends. I call out, to no one in particlar, "Can we pay, please?", and the pretend manager comes over and realizes (I thought) that something was amiss. He then very casually and SLOWLY goes over to get our original server to come back and finish helping us (meanwhile, he is doing NOTHING at all but joking around with employees). The total was $8.50. I handed the server (he is still on the phone) a $10. He comes back from the register, sets the bag on the counter, and holds out a $1 bill. I realize that the rest of my change is not forthcoming. I am seriously steamed at this point, and I interrupt his conversation: "That must be a very important phone call". He looks up and answers, arrogantly, "Oh, yes, very important". The fake manager come over and asks what the problem is, and one of the other employees motions to me and quietly says something to him. He hands me the coins and says "OK?", and walks away, amused, muttering something about me " really missing (my) fifty cents." I lost my cool at that point, and challenged him to repeat what he just said. He backed away, denying it. I have always known that these people were arrogant and coasting on a long-undeserved reputation (there is not ONE person working in this tourist trap who knows anything at all about Italian pastry). But this was the last straw. I have mentioned my opinion on their products several times, and I maintain (objectively) that their "cannoli", while passable, are not what they should be. And they are the best thing that "Rocco's" makes. I have spent my last cent there.

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  1. I've only gone in once, despite it being in my neighborhood too, because of the downright hostile attitude. Your experience really sucks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: megaepicure

      I am actually kind of glad to hear you mention that they are hostile. I always hear people recommend Rocco's, as if their pastries were somehow worth going out of one's way for, and never mentioning the frustration (and abuse!) that goes along with dealing with the personnel. The only reason they do so much business is the fact that they are on a block of Bleecker Street that is hugely popular with tourists (understandably), and happens to operate in the midst of several truly deserving food meccas.

    2. I used to live in the neighborhood and went every day for a few months. I'm still nearby and go pretty often. I've experienced a little bit of slow or scatter-brained service, but never hostility. I really like Rocco's, and not just for cannoli.

      1. Wow, that sounds like the only place in New York worse than Duane Reade! I hate going to Rocco's. I never found them hostile, just scattered. The pastries, however, were always very disappointing. I can't understand how they managed to stay open while Bruno's closed.

        5 Replies
        1. re: JungMann

          I agree. While neither of the cafes was particularly excellent, it did seem pretty random how one closed and the other stayed open. However, I can say that Rocco's seems to benefit from its reputation as an "ethnic Italian" bakery, and, consequently, is a regular stop on daily food and culture tours of the Village.

          1. re: vvvindaloo

            I live in the neighborhood but have yet to go...I kinda wanna check it out just to see how big of an a**hole these guys can be!

            I like to eats.

            1. re: vvvindaloo

              Did Bruno's really close? I thought it was just being renovated for some reason. Though I like Bruno's lattes, I generally found both places to be equally "eager" to ignore me.

              1. re: erin07nyc

                The location on Bleecker St. closed.

                1. re: Lucia

                  Bruno closed?? That stinks. I would occasionally go to Rocco's, but always preferred Bruno. Too bad, but I don't frequent the area as I used to.

          2. There is a constant change over of staff. They are clueless, slow, scattered. The Italian guy with the long stingy hair seems to make the place work, more or less. They can't handle table and counter service. I like the rum cakes, cannoli, cookies. The cakes suck. Going there around holiday time is asking for extra frustration, btw. The best times to go are weekdays around 11.

            6 Replies
            1. re: simetrias

              "The Italian guy with the long stingy hair seems to make the place work, more or less"....
              That would be the fake manager in my story. He acts like he owns the place, but I don't think so. And I am not sure that he is Italian, either.

              1. re: vvvindaloo

                I have consistently had slow service here each and every time I have come in. There was one time when I thought I was actually being ignored because there were about 2 customers in the place and about 5 workers and no one came near me.

                I'm sorry about your experience here. On a happier note I found a place today in Brooklyn that has Pignolia cookies that are about 5 times better than the ones at Rocco's which is the main reason I would always stop there for my boyfriend. So they won't be getting AS much of my business anymore.

                1. re: roze

                  I am with you on Bklyn- that's where I typically go for cannoli (and various other ricotta cream pastries). The slow aspect of the service is one thing, and not necessarily a reason to be angry or stop giving them business. However, I am sure that they ARE, indeed, ignoring their customers when they feel like it, and are rude, arrogant and ignorant on top of it.

              2. re: simetrias

                I guess that I am jumping on the old bandwagon here, but I agree with the sentiment. I've never been treated with outright hostility at Rocco's, more like disdain for bothering to interrupt the staff's endless break. Not surprising given the sliding quality of retail in NY. I guess it really has become a tourist economy not dependent on repeat business.

                1. re: fsd1116

                  No, I don't think you are jumping on the bandwagon at all. I believe that we are in the minority in criticizing Rocco's. This was my first time experiencing outright hostility there, though I see that I have not been imagining their seeming total lack of urgency and effort in what they do. But what do you think of their products? I am curious.

                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                    There were a few things that I bought on the regular: cannolis, regina biscuits, biscotti, the large chocolate chip cookies that were always in the windo, cuccidatti around the holidays. I never really had any complaints with the quality of the product, just the staff.

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