|Homemade organic whole-wheat spaghetti with grated sheep's milk cheese and chopped fresh herbs.|
Mama Roxy's in Rochelle Park serves well-executed Italian food -- in both individual and family portions -- plus thin-crust pizzas, as part of a formula that has proven successful at Roxanne's in Mahwah. The two restaurants have the same ownership and share menus, our waitress said.
We were the first customers when we arrived around 5 Saturday afternoon, parking in the rear and entering through a rear entrance. The two-level Mama Roxy's took over the space of a shuttered Texas barbecue restaurant near the Garden State Parkway.
The large menu doesn't provide much guidance on portion size of salads, pastas and entrees, which are available in "individual" and "family" servings. For an appetizer of shrimp oreganato (one size only), the menu made no mention of the butter used in the lemony sauce.
We were two adults and a 13-year-old, so we ordered a family-size Siciliana salad ($22.95), the shrimp oreganato ($10.95), a small pizza with two toppings ($17), a glass of pinot noir ($7), lemonade ($2.25) and seltzer ($2.25, with free refills). With tax and a $9 tip, we spent nearly $81.
The salad was huge -- enough for five or six people -- and it came heaped up on an oval platter about two feet long, with spring mix, romaine lettuce, pitted olives, anchovies, marinated fresh artichoke hearts with stems, cheese, capers, roasted red peppers, carrot and tomato in a "homemade" Italian dressing.
We managed to finish this superb salad. Then, we were served a half-dozen tender, breaded shrimp in a sauce so good my son reached over to sop it up with pieces of his roll.
I always order pizza "well-one," but that was a mistake here, because the gas-fired crust came out dark, stiff and dry. My son loved it, but my wife only ate the cheese and toppings, leaving the crust on her plate. I ate two of the four small slices from the half topped with spinach (the equivalent of one slice of regular pizza).
At $13, this 12-inch pie is not a good value. We wanted half-sausage and half-spinach, because I'm not eating meat, but were charged $2 for each topping nonetheless, as a lot of places do. This doesn't make sense -- to charge the full price for half a topping. And there was hardly any spinach used on my half of the pie.
Next time we go, we'll order a large pie, for only $2 more, and an individual Siciliana salad ($10.50), or try one of the 15 pasta or ravioli dishes ($11.95 to $39.95).
We were told the Greek family that owns Mama Roxy's and Roxanne's also operates Varka, the pricey Greek seafood house in Ramsey, and once ran Patsy's pizzerias in the city.
Mama Roxy's, 352 W. Passaic St., Rochelle Park; 201-845-7600.
-- VICTOR E. SASSON