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Rocco's Trattoria - New Canaan; Any idea?

Jfood noticed a new restaurant nearing completion in the Walgreen's "mall" (old Shaw's) named Rocco's Trattoria.

Anybody know anything about this place?


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  1. nice website menu, good price point and delivery. looks like a couple of weeks away.

    1. Wow! I hope it delivers on the promise. Everything looks right, not let's hope is stays true to his Nonni's memory, and doesn't become yet another dumbed-down Italian-American place.

      BTW, has anyone ever eaten at that Italina panini place on Bedford, by Tign, and Johnny Rockets?

      Really good, and a nice place for lunch..pizzas, panini, wine, beer...great afternoon stop

      1. Menu looks really good, decent price point, like the guy's philosophy. Hope it's winner here in NC.

        1. jfood drove by and saw people inside so stopped to look in. Staff looked like they were getting ready.

          So when jfood went home he went on web-site and tried for a reso. Opentable is now accepting reservations so the opening in a week.

          jfood scarfed a deuce.

          9 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            I recently ordered from planet pizza...( I know, I know), and it was delivered in a Rocco's Trattoria -New Canaan box. I am assuming it is owned by the same people that own Planet.

            1. re: Put a Sake in it

              nothing of the sort on the website. jfood does not think so.

              1. re: jfood

                I wouldn't want anyone to know I was affiliated with planet either. :-). Very odd coincidence, especially because I ordered from the Planet in Shelton!

                Here is a picture of the box, if you were at all curious.

                1. re: Put a Sake in it

                  Cool looking box though. Don;t to have real pizza in Shelton? Planet is horrible. Noe sure which worse them or Pinocchio. Are kids will never know good if they arefed that.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Ah yes, I am a stones throw away from Roseland. However, as for delivery it is only planet. It was a cold rainy wednesday, I took the good (delivery) with the mediocre (planet's pizza) !

                  2. re: Put a Sake in it

                    Uh, no coincidence. The dude owns Planet Pizza, or at least his family does, as reported in this week's New Canaan Advertiser. My optimism has shriveled like the cheese on one of their pies.

                    1. re: CTburgerlover

                      oh crap. Butthe article also says that the chef is Lisa Varnberg-Sierra, who trained at the French Culinary Institute and loves Mediterranean cooking. Oh well, gotta support local business and hope it's good. If it resembles PP then...

                      1. re: jfood

                        Give this place a try. I understand the chef worked under Todd English. Planet Pizza may not be great pie. But they poured some money into Rocco's and got a great chef.

                        1. re: robfood

                          jfood already has reso's and will try in a couple of weeks. he is looking forward to it and hopes hes did not learn any bad habits from Todd.

            2. Went tonight.

              First impressions...ample parking, nice decor. Dining room was large, not too loud even when packed (as it was by 8pm), nice little bar area. They really put a lot of work into the place, and it shows.

              Showed up at 7pm without a reservation with the wife and kids in tow. Was told the wait would be 30-45 minutes, despite three vacant four-tops, couple of 6-tops available. Must have been maxed out with reservations. Happily, wound up only waiting 15 minutes.

              Waiter was very friendly, got us our drinks and bread/olive oil quickly. Heard some people complain to FOH about the bread being "cold". Ours was fine... room temp, not warm, but that doesn't bother me. If you want warm bread, you can go to Bertucci's.

              The wine list was good, featuring pretty much all Italian labels, yet with enough variety that there should be something for everyone. They also had a nice list of cocktails that are worth a look.

              For an app, we shared a couple of crostini's...mashed white bean & pancetta and the speck & gorgonzola with truffled honey. Both were tasty.

              My wife ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, I wanted to try their pizza. Torn between the Margarita (fresh mozz, chopped tomato, torn basil) and the Nonna (buffalo mozzarella, crushed san marzano's, basil chiffonade). Here was the only glitch of the night, I ended up being served the wrong pizza. I ordered the Nonna, got served the Bella Donna. Which was OK because...a.) It's only the 3rd night open, Donna rhymes with Nonna, and... b.) I actually really liked the two bites I had of the Bella Donna (roasted red pepper, goat cheese, red onion).

              Anyway, they responded a quickly and apologetically, and I got the correct pizza well before the wife finished her pasta, which was a pretty good dish. One hope...they should have homemade pasta. The spaghetti was definitely boxed. Not sure about the ravioli or totelli dishes. Better than the spaghetti was the pizza. Nice size, it was very tasty, fresh ingredients, nicely cooked.

              The general manager is a very warm young lady who, after chatting with my wife, offered us dessert on the house. Very kind gesture, but the kids were getting antsy after polishing off their pasta from the children's menu. Plus, being open only 3 days, the gaps between visits from our waiter were (understandably) a tad long, so we were ready to split. The bill was less than $100 with tip, not bad for a family of four who had an app, two adult entrees, two kids entrees, three glasses of vino, two sodas, and a cocktail.

              So...overall, a welcome addition to the 'hood, at least on the first try. It reminded us of Strada 18, just a couple of notches below. Certainly some expected kinks are still being worked out, but it looks like they are on their way to being a nice option for us here in NC. Look forward to going back soon!

              1 Reply
              1. re: CTburgerlover

                Thanks CT. Jfood heading ther next week. We could use a mid priced place in town, there are just so many Balaggios jfood can eat.

                BTW mrs jfood went to Chef Louis' the other night and was pleasantly surprised. She hadn;t been since the second week it was open when it was horrible and now she cannot wait for the two adult jfoods to go.

              2. We went on Friday. The crostinis to start are very nice. decent bruschetta, but i thought the tastiest was the white bean with panchetta crostini. For entrees, my wife got the chicken parm. They tried to be creative, one piece fried, one piece oven roasted, and a square of fried mozz. In our opinion, the dish just did not work. i needed some acid to counter all that richness, perhaps some greens or something on the dish. the mozz was too oily. I have the spaghetti carbonara, which was good, but the pasta was straight out of the box. WE got some chocalate dessert which was quite good.
                The inside of the restaurant is very nice and the service was adequate. My problem is that there is better Italian in New Canaan (Aloi) and better pizzas at an italian restaurant (Sole). I just don't see the niche they are going to fill. Plus, it really is no cheaper. I still spent $130 or so for two of us and i was the only one drinking.
                I wish they would have put in some type of chophouse. that would have filled a need.

                14 Replies
                1. re: LW1

                  According to their website the crostinis are $3 each, the chicken parm is $19, the carbonara is $14 and the choc dessert is $9; thats about $60 total (inc tax & tip). What were you drinking?

                  1. re: feastorfamine

                    we had four of the crostinis, you only get one per $3. I had two glasses of their cheapest red wine $9. My daughter ( i did not include her because she usually only adds about $6-8 to the bill, but since you asked) had spaghetti and meatballs which they charged us $13 for (the meatballs were $8 on the kids menu but she wanted past) and my wife had 2 cokes (the first one they brought out was diet and it took about 10 minutes to get it fixed). I'm not griping about the place, i just think there is better italian for the money in town. Tax and tip... sorry, two coffees with dessert. I can show you the itemized receipt if you would like. Anyway, i hope they do well. The wine shop next door is pretty good by the way. In general, i think the town made a huge mistake allowing that terrible strip mall there. They could have designed it much better so that it looked nicer.

                    1. re: LW1

                      Not the worst mistake the town has made....believe me.

                      Anyway, I can't really complain about the "strip mall" ...now we have a great alternative to CVS, a nice wine shop, and good restaurant with ample parking. Don't really see what's so terrible about it. Definitely better than the eyesore that preceded it.

                      1. re: LW1

                        "They could have designed it much better so that it looked nicer."

                        Do you remember Shaw's? Violated both site and smell criteria and the building next store is undergoing an Environmental Cleanup. Let's not even go to allowing Subway in town and now we have Patio.com in place of Villarina's. Does the word boycott come into play?

                        Jfood will take a high end wine store, an alternative to the parking nightmare of CVS and an Italian bistro any day of the week.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Completely agree with everything you said until you brought up the need to ever step inside cvs or walgreens. there is just no need in my opinion. you can go to Langs or Varnums for your meds and the rest of the stuff can be bought at the grocery store. Patio.com is a joke. They don't even bother to put up a decent sign. Is it better than the place being empty though? not sure. Crumbs btw is taking down their brown paper and you can see the inside of the store now. Not a cupcake fan, but they are paying us $100/sq ft and i'm all for that.

                          1. re: LW1

                            jfood only wishes that L & V had the meds in stock, which has been difficult historically as well as a national network so one can tap into the med history no matter where. jfood will never set foot in patio.com.

                            there are a couple of crumbs cupcakes that are pretty good and some that should turn into their store name.

                            some people were aghast at pain quotidien but it has turned out pretty well so far.

                    2. re: LW1


                      if youwant to goto Aloi during the week, go to restaurant.com and click on $25 certificate for $10. The in promotional code type (DISH) and the $10 is reduced to $2. So for $2 you receive a $25 crtificate to Aloi. Unbelievable deal, but only good during the week.

                      1. re: jfood

                        Thanks for the heads up jfood. I will do that. Their home made pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe is calling my name... or do i want the bolognese.... hmmmmm

                        1. re: LW1

                          bolgnese or the pea cavatelli with sausage for jfood, maybe both.

                      2. re: LW1

                        Did you have the pizza? I thought their pizza was better than Sole.

                        I think it could potentially fill the void left by Prezzo, if they would just make their own pasta.

                        1. re: CTburgerlover

                          Two words for great pizza in town...

                          Joes Pizza

                          Get the bacon and tomato.

                          1. re: jfood

                            we have a pizza problem in my household. i like Frank Pepe's style pizza while my wife likes Colony. I like Joe's in town but we rarely order since not everyone in the house likes it. Not sure how to get over this problem.

                            1. re: LW1

                              Easy answer LW...buy three pizzas. sounds like a dinner and breatfast the next day approach.

                            2. re: jfood

                              Agreed, we are regulars at Joe's, almost said hello to you last Friday as you were awaiting your bacon & tomato and I was leaving with my Sausage and Roasted Pepper and wings..

                        2. Ordered takeout from Rocco's last week, and we are actually becoming fans. The pizzette (Nonna-Fresh Mozz, Crushed San Marzanos, Fresh Basil) was delicious...small but filling. Italian Wedding Soup was tasty, the potato and gorgonzola croquettes were really good, as was the Seafood Insalata. BTW - the place was packed, be sure to make rezzie's or be prepared to wait.

                          The place was packed

                          1. Talk about lipstick on a pig! Yikes!

                            This is the same food as Planet Pizza in Stamford, Brookfield, etc., etc., etc., which is owned by the same pizza delivery family, tucked into a Walmart.. Ooops, Walgreen mall and gussied up to look just like a real restaurant.

                            There is a great discussion here about whether or not its good to have a restaurant in the same mall as a drug store, but I'm not sure that it REALLY matters. Space is at a premium in New Canaan, and it is one of the most expensive retail spots in the world.

                            So given that bit of trivia... put a pizza restaurant in a low-price mall in a very high price town and what do we get?

                            Food that is indifferent to disappointing. I'd describe the two dinners I've had there, but its REALLY a depressing waste of time.

                            If you live near Stamford or any other town NOT named New Canaan, just call Planet Pizza and order the same dishes. It'll be half the price and, HEY, they deliver... In ROCCO boxes, yet!

                            if you signup here, http://www.planetpizza.com/stamford.htm, you can even get coupons

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: Gourmetguy5757

                              that pretty much sums up most reports i've heard. plus the whole town boycotts that strip because of the outlandish architecture.

                              1. re: poppy

                                Not really though. Place has been packed every time I've been, filled with townies.

                                  1. re: poppy

                                    Yup, I'm one of 'em. If you stay long enough, you'll eventually discover there are a lot of folks who are 2nd, 3rd, even 4th generation New Canaanites.

                                    We spend most of our time working during the day, and at night we sometimes come out and frequent places like Rocco's and Gates and Joe's Pizza. Stop by sometime, say hello!

                                    1. re: CTburgerlover

                                      i am so glad to hear that. i have clients there and all i ever see are people flashing amex goldcards everywhere. its a beautiful town and i always figured someone a long time back was responsible for it. i don't think we agree on food a lot but you've restored my faith in humanity.

                                      1. re: poppy

                                        I bet we agree on food more than you think...

                              2. re: Gourmetguy5757

                                Not accurate at all. Different chef, different product. You sound more bitter about the strip mall and perhaps that is what is confusing you. Maybe they should rebuild the horrific Grand Union/Shaw's building that was there and it would satisfy folks.

                                1. re: Gourmetguy5757

                                  That's hilarious...a planet pizza offshoot dressed up as a proper restaurant...some folks will eat anything it seems...

                                  1. re: CTburgerlover

                                    I will vouch that it's different chef/menu from planet pizza. I went back again and wish it would be better. it's not bad, i just don't find myself dreaming about any of their food like i do about other places.

                                    1. re: LW1

                                      Agreed LW1. Not terrible. Not great. Not Napa. Not Harvest Supper. Not X20.

                                      But not Planet Pizza either.

                                2. With a menu that seemed reasonable for New Canaan, and a space that's been very nicely appointed and decorated, I had high hopes for Rocco's. However, it's clear that, even after a few months of business, they don't have things quite right.

                                  Admittedly, my meal started off well: the insalata mista, served in the outer leaves of a head of radicchio was excellent -- the chick peas, chopped vegetables and ricotta salata worked very well together. The portion was a healthy size, too.

                                  Unfortunately, the pleasure of the meal ended with that salad.

                                  The calamari tasted like it was straight from a bag and was overwhelmingly salty. Coincidentally, we saw another party seated nearby also complaining about the overuse of salt in their food. For that matter, it seemed like many surrounding parties had complaints about one thing or another, whether it was the food or the service.

                                  My friend asked that the red sauce be held from the plate, because he can't eat cooked tomato, and it was delivered with the sauce anyway. Although hardly a catastrophe or an obstacle to eating the calamari, it showed that either the kitchen, the server, or both, had not been very attentive to the request.

                                  For a restaurant with brick-oven pizza so prominently featured on its menu, Rocco's doesn't seem to take its pizza very seriously. Our pizzas lacked the crispness, the crunch and the brownness one would expect from a brick oven. The mozzarella was still in thick, barely melted, completely white chunks, and the crusts bordered on still doughy.

                                  Although it may not be an issue to many people in this day and age, I have a real problem with buspeople removing plates while some people in the party are still eating their entrees. At Rocco's, they think nothing of doing it, though. In our case, the busperson knocked a glass of water over and the table was soon soaked. This began a domino effect of bumbling as he backed up and knocked several plates to the floor.

                                  The restaurant seems to have hired help that isn't highly experienced in dining establishments, and we found the food underwhelming. It's a shame, because I wanted to love the place. The atmosphere is nice, they accept reservations, parking is easy, and the menu is inviting.

                                  Although I'm not ruling out a second visit, I definitely plan to wait a while. Perhaps if enough people voice their feelings, Rocco's will make some changes for the better.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: kingleer

                                    kingleer, I emailed them after dining there wishing them luck and sharing my surprise when the bus staff cleared the table an item at a time as we were all still eating. Someone emailed me back apologizing and telling me they agreed, the table shouldn't be cleared until the end of the meal. I'm not surprised to hear the staff is still doing the same thing.

                                    1. re: wookiedoodle

                                      Wow, that's discouraging, I thought of emailing about my experience, but it doesn't sound like they take input very seriously.

                                      I could have easily overlooked the table-clearing, had the food knocked my socks off, but they don't even have that to fall back on.

                                      1. re: kingleer

                                        I was underwhelmed a month or so back and i posted my comments. too bad that things have not improved. they clearly spent a good amt of money on decorating. too bad they forgot about the food.

                                        1. re: LW1

                                          they now have a coupon in the valu-pac envelope that comes every saturday. that's a death knell. r.i.p. roccos.

                                          1. re: poppy

                                            Why is that a death knell? Does every restaurant who offers a discount fold? I seem to remember Telluride offering coupons in the same Valuepack a couple of years ago, and it is still open. In fact, just looking through the Money Mailer sent this week, and the only restaurant that had a coupon was...Coromandel. Hmmm....

                                            Every time I've been to Rocco's, for eat-in or takeout, it's been crowded. Other than me, it gets no love on this board, but obviously they are doing something right.

                                            1. re: CTburgerlover

                                              Gates and 50 coins also have an inexplicable large following, that does not necessarily translate to good food. Red Lobster and Applebees do quite nicely as well and i doubt many on this board would sign off on their cuisine (although the cheese biscuits at red lobster are great!).
                                              I hope Rocco's does well. I don't wish anyone ill will. They just won't get any more of my money.

                                              1. re: LW1

                                                Never said they were excellent, but it serves it's purpose.

                                  2. The jfoods finally ate at Rocco's earlier this week. Their order was a pie and the chicken parm combo.

                                    The good news first. jfood thought the pie was OK and he went there expecting the worst. The crust was pretty good, not great and a bit strange because it was a little bland but had a hint of a wheaty background flavor. The sausage was OK as well when you could find it since it was broken into mini-pieces. The roasted red peppers were very good with a nice flavor. Jfood also thought the cheese was OK and they had the correct amount of sauce. The pie maker needs more practice since jfood's pie was stretched so thin in the middle it fell apart.

                                    Now onto the entree, the Pollo alla Parmigiana which is described as a duet of classic chicken parm paired with a pan-roasted chicken breast, crispy mozzarella in carozza, and fresh tomato rag├╣. The chef must have received a phone call while cooking or just forgot about it. The grilled half was way overcooked, hard as a rock, stringy and flavorless. It was sitting atop the carozza which was a bit silly for this dish (almost as if the chef was trying for an deconstructed inside out chicken parm.. Then there was the traditional parm itself. Jfood has the same stringy overcooked comment on this side as he did on the grilled side. Two wrongs, in this case three wrongs do not make a right. Most of this dish was left uneaten.

                                    In comparison to the other restaurants in town. The pizza has some legs but is not in the same league as Joe's.and will probably grab some business from Viccola's, and it is much better than Pinocchio's but so is a toaster pizza. Given the choice of Gates, Viccolos, 50 Coins, or Tequilla Mockingbird this place may place third.

                                    The place has a huige following and jfood is really happy they do and he wishes them the best. But with other choices in town that he likes much better, it will not be on jfood's rotation

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jfood

                                      nice write up. my wife had the "deconstructed" chicken parm as well the first time we went. i give them kudos for the attempt, but there is no need, the individual pieces of chicken are not that good, it could use a bit more sause and perhaps a green to offset some of the flavors.

                                    2. Has anyone tried the Cannoli Nachos yet? I'm thinking of stopping by with a friend for dessert and the whole course seems to have been overlooked a bit in these postings. Any thoughts?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: rifkind81

                                        Have not tried the desserts here as of yet, though the first time we were there the manager offered to buy us dessert b/c of the pizza mixup (see my first review).

                                        Give it a shot and let us know how it was.

                                      2. Not having read these posts, some of which are six months old or older, we ventured to Rocco's the other night and experienced every negative thing that everyone wrote about. The food was exceedingly mediocre, arrived cool to cold even though it arrived fairly quickly, the restaurant was fairly empty (on a Friday night) and the kitchen was within my sight line. The service was beyond awful - with us too having bus persons remove our dishes before we finished eating and stacking plates six plates high in front of me (on top of the plate from which I was still eating). There are far too many good restaurants in New Canaan (Harvest Supper, Sole, Bistro Bonne Huit just to name a few) to go back here. I don't expect this restaurant will be in business in the near future... not if they couldn't fix these problems that diners wrote about more than six months ago!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: PRFoodieWannabe

                                          i hear they're going out ,so your prediction is served.

                                          1. re: poppy

                                            that's too bad. i was never a fan, as you can see if you read my posts above, but you don't want to see businesses fail. it's too bad they did not read everyone's comments and make the necessary changes to be a half decent place. i actually thought they had done an ok job decorating the place. too bad they did not put as much effort in the kitchen/service.

                                            1. re: LW1

                                              Nicely put LW. NC is a quirky town, they know what they like, will pay for it, but if you try to put a square peg in a round hole, death. Harvest Supper changed their MO and now they thrive. You need acceptance in a small one-horse town and Tocco's never seemed to want to fit the market and expected the market to fit it. Too bad if true.

                                        2. Like fellow posters, I do wish them well but what is it with pizza joints thinking they can open up finer dining establishments (Roccos and Rizzutos in Westport)? Both are fine additions to the dining landscapes but as JFOOD said, not going to be on my rotation at all (and my rotation includes dining out all the time). Hell, I'll drive into the city for a good pierogie at a whim or pupusa or 5 star dining, you name it. If Fairfield County restaurants could capture my attention, I'd stay local in a heartbeat. Speaking of which, did find a good pupusa place in Bpt where no English is spoken and you feel as if you will be car jacked. They are homemade and muy delicioso!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: MasterofLightChick

                                            OMG where the heck have you been? Jfood is glad you are back on the Boards.

                                            WELCOME BACK MOLC

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              thank you! that's gives me a warm fuzzy feeling...hhhmmm. i started my own site with restaurant reviews, miscellaneous commentaries, etc. now i feel a little more grounded and can be back in the swing here on Chowhound but I do find myself eating out way more than I have time to write about it. I like you too JFOOD!

                                            2. re: MasterofLightChick

                                              In no way was Roccos a "fine addition to the dining landscape"...and now it's closing. Good news for those who like eating edible food.

                                              1. re: Scotty100

                                                omg - rocco's is closing already? wow! that was a fast one. I only went once and didn't enjoy the food though did like the option in New Canaan. BTW, love Zumbach's coffee roaster across the street.