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Yech! Rocco's on Wilshire-- are they under new ownership?

Mr Taster Oct 19, 2009 01:22 PM

From 2004-2006 I worked a few doors down from Rocco's pizza on Wilshire Blvd. Their meatball parm sandwich was one of my favorite items to order.

Today I was in the area again and got my regular order. In a word-- blergh! The cheese tasted like some sort of proto-mozzarella/american hybrid. The meatballs were soft and mealy and oddly spiced. The bread was fine.

I'm sensing that there was an ownership change here, and not just because the frat-boy owner and his entourage of twenty-something coed staffer were nowhere to be seen.

What's the scoop?

Mr Taster

  1. n
    neobite Oct 22, 2009 05:33 PM

    It's the same Rocco's, and the same sandwich, though there's some variation in the meatballs from visit to visit. I happen to love it about 90% of the time and still think it's one of the better ones available. That said, I agree: their cheese completely sucks. It's my major gripe with Rocco's and why I'll always order a Vito's pie even when Rocco's is right down the street (well, okay, and Vito's crust, and Vito's sauce...god, think I'll get some Vito's tonight [note: Vito's gotta work on his meatball sub]). Anyway, I'd love to talk these guys into raising the quality of their cheese and pepperoni. It's still a beloved spot for me, but they could be real contenders if they'd spend a buck on the ingredients.

    1. c
      Clyde Oct 21, 2009 10:11 AM

      i went to rocco's a couple of months ago and split a pie and an eggplant parm sandwich with my cousin. i hadn't been to rocco's in years and thought it had been better previously as i was sort of not thrilled with my dinner. it wasn't terrible, just not anything great. no idea if anything has changed but rocco's is mediocre in my book. not bad, not great, just OK if you are in the area and want pizza.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Clyde
        Mr Taster Oct 21, 2009 10:22 AM

        The real tragedy is that it's so hard in this town to find a great meatball parm sub, and pre-2006 they could deliver.

        All over LA, it seems that either the meatballs aren't properly seasoned or the texture is off, or the bread isn't toasty, or the sauce is weird, or something else is amiss. In this incarnation of Rocco's sub, the only unoffensive element of the sandwich was the bread. My old standby (though I also haven't been there is years) has been Quickie's in North Hollywood. Surprisingly delicious meatball subs done right.

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster
          t
          TomSwift Oct 21, 2009 12:58 PM

          When I'm on that side of town the Eastside Deli on Alpine has a meatball sub that hits the spot for me.

          1. re: TomSwift
            Mr Taster Oct 21, 2009 01:12 PM

            The problem with Eastside Deli is that the sub is assembled but not baked. A proper meatball parm sub needs to be baked (preferably in a super hot pizza oven) so the cheese gets all bubbly and brown, and meshes with the crispy toasted edges of the bread. With Eastside Deli's sub, it's all squish and no crunch, though if I recall the flavor/textures of their meatballs and sauce were good.

            Edit: Looks like I found my initial review of Eastide Deli from 3 years ago
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3157...

            A square slice of cheese does not belong anywhere near a proper meatball sub! It's maddeningly frustrating to know that they can come so close on the hardest parts (the flavor/texture of the meatballs and sauce) but yet screw up the easiest things (good Italian bread and shred your own Polly-O, bake it for 5 minutes).

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster
              t
              TomSwift Oct 21, 2009 01:33 PM

              You're right about the baking but I'm a fool for the flavor/texture of the sauce and meat. And Hollywood is a tad far to drive when you have to be back in court at 1:30.

          2. re: Mr Taster
            sku Oct 21, 2009 01:32 PM

            Totally agree with you on the lack of a good meatball sub. That was one of my go to orders at the Roccos on Vermont (which I could get delivery from) when it was operationg.

            I do like the Bay Cities meatball sub though.

            1. re: sku
              Mr Taster Oct 21, 2009 01:43 PM

              Bay Cities has the opposite (and more prevasive) problem of Eastside... excellent bread tainted with mealy-textured meatballs and an unbalanced sauce.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3157...

              Now imagine Eastside's meatballs and sauce, some shredded Polly-O, baked into Bay Cities bread.... you'd have a meatball sub worth committing a felony for. Downtown attorneys, take note.

              Mr Taster

              P.S. You know, this is not such a far fetched proposition to build yourself..... Eastside meatballs/sauce and Bay Cities bread to go (can probably get the Polly-O mozz at Bay Cities too). Slap it together at home and bake in a hot preheated oven with a pizza stone, and I think you've got the best meatball sub to be found anywhere in L.A.

              1. re: Mr Taster
                a_and_w Jan 4, 2010 10:39 AM

                I like the Bay Cities meatball parm, but it's actually one of the few sandwiches where the bread doesn't work. Like you said above, meatball parms should be toasted in the oven. But the Bay Cities bread becomes too tough upon toasting. You need a much softer semolina roll for a proper meatball parm.

                1. re: a_and_w
                  Mr Taster Jan 4, 2010 10:46 AM

                  Hm, that's certainly a fair point which I hadn't considered. You're probably right that the texure of Bay Cities bread would be too tough when toasted. I wonder how it would fare with eastide's meatballs and sauce with just 1 minute under the broiler-- not enough to really toast the bread, but enough time to make the Polly-O cheese brown and bubbly?

                  Mr Taster

        2. q
          QualityMart Oct 19, 2009 10:59 PM

          I agree with Fryboy. I just had a Rocco's pie this weekend for the first time in about a year, and it was as superb as I've always remembered it. I've been going there a few times a year for about 5 years. So I can't say that I'm a regular, but I am definitely a fan. (It has less to do with Rocco's itself and more about trying to avoid the calories of pizza as much as I can help it ... otherwise I'd go there all the time!) I always get pizza and/or the baked ziti, both of which are superb, but I can't comment on their sandwiches having never tried them. I've had one or two not-so great pies before (not horrible, just lacking a bit for some reason), so maybe they have occasional off days.

          1. Fryboy Oct 19, 2009 04:34 PM

            Let me say from the start that my wife and I have been going to the Rocco’s on Wilshire for about two years. It seems like the same people have been there. I don’t know if different people were running it before we started going. I hope I’m not hijacking your thread with a little Rocco’s defense.

            My wife and I had a great meal at the Rocco’s on Wilshire just last night. It was very tasty as usually. We split a Caesar salad w/ grilled chicken and cheese pizza. Their Caesar dressing as light with a little lemony kick. Their pizza dough is always tender and a little chewy. I also have had their pasta in the past which were also top notch, especially the ravioli. Try it with chicken and pesto. They also have this thing there called “Leo's Carb-less Ziti” which is a dish filled with pieces of sausage, pepperoni, meatballs and melted cheese. The meatball pieces I had in there were firm and meaty. We scoop out chunks of this cheesy goodness and spread it on the pizza. We don’t order it every time…because we’d be dead. But it is a great treat every once and a while
            We have been going there for about two years.

            I have not had the Meatball Parm sandwich but I have been disappointed with the Chicken Parm sandwich, the grilled chicken is cut into stripes and is used for their salads too. I think a Chicken Parm sandwich should have a whole breast, not small stripes, But maybe that’s just me.

            So as regular customers of Rocco’s on Wilshire, We give it a big thumbs up. And it’s because of the great food and friendly staff (Angie Rocks!) that we are regular customers.

            1. sku Oct 19, 2009 03:54 PM

              They closed the one on Vermont, so they may well have sold the Wilshire one as well. I miss my penne vodka pie.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sku
                b
                Burger Boy Oct 19, 2009 04:34 PM

                That is right, it is now a Big Mama's & Papa's Pizza.

              2. o
                ozhead Oct 19, 2009 02:03 PM

                I don't know about Rocco's on Wilshire, but please don't let Mr. Taster's review reflect badly on Rocco's in the Canyon -- just south of the intersection of Topanga Canyon Blvd. and Old Topanga Canyon Rd. Even though the Roccos sold the store several years ago (to the guy who had been their main cook for umpteen years), the food is unchanged, and terrific, particularly the pizza.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ozhead
                  t
                  TomSwift Oct 19, 2009 02:11 PM

                  We usually hit Pat's Topanga Grill but will give Rocco's a shot as well.

                  1. re: ozhead
                    d
                    dtud Oct 19, 2009 03:34 PM

                    YES! rocco's in the canyon is great and has great service.

                    1. re: dtud
                      d
                      Drneedle Jan 3, 2010 04:24 PM

                      Wow. Really? Rocco's in the Canyon good? It is, by far, the worst pizza and Italian food I have ever eaten. The problem as I see it is that business is not good so they cut back on the quality of the food - cheaper cheese, meats,sauces ect. I have lived here for years and before it was sold, it was good. Now? They offer a Taco Tuesday's. Need I say more? I NEVER see a car in the parking lot, allegedly, they do a big take out business. Yuck. Eat at your own risk. Stick with Pat's!!!

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