Sunday, October 31, 2010

At Mama Roxy's Italian-American restaurant in Rochelle Park

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.

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  1. $23 for a salad. Ouch. My wife and I go to Buca Di Beppo in Albany, NY when we are in the area and their large family sized antipasto salad is only $20 and has all the traditional Italian meats in it.

  2. I think we would have been happy with the smaller salad.

  3. I have been to Mama Roxy's a few times. It is pricey but portions are large so it's more like you'r getting double the meal. I was very dissapointed upon my last visit. I ordered the Shrimp parm family style platter (At least a $40.00 dish) and when they served it to the table their was a hair in it. While i can completely understand this sometimes happens what really disturbed me was when we politly and discreatley pointed it out it was removed from the table and then the same darn dish of food was returned to us 5 minutes later! i found that very disturbing to order a $40.00 dish and the cook thought it was appropriate to remove the hair, cover the spot with more cheese and return the same darn dish back to us. VERY UNPROFESSIONAL! we are certain it was the same dish of food because the kids took photos of it with their phones! the poor attempt of reheating the same dish even scorvhed what was once white mozzarella. When i confronted the waitress about it everyone denied it. They replaced the dish but at this point everyone else was done eating and my trust in them and the quality was destroyed.

  4. That's so disappointing. I'm not sure why restaurants don't take such matters more seriously.

    If Mama Roxy's thought the food with the hair in it was still edible with the hair removed, then give it to the staff, don't try to pull a fast one on the customer.

    When I want Italian food now, I go to Sanducci's Trattoria in River Edge or I Gemelli in South Hackensack, a BYO splurge.

  5. This place must of changed ownership, it is now going by a different name.

  6. Really? I guess it didn't last a year.

    It's a tough location, but there is a large office building across the way, it's near the mall and it used a formula from a successful Mahwah restaurant.

    We tried it only once. There are so many Italian places around.

  7. It is now the Woodstone Pizza Bar and Grill, I doubt it is the same owner as Mama Roxy's. Then again it is possible, the prices on the menu are about identical to the ones you described. I have been to Varka, it is pretty solid, but it seems like the common denominator with this family's businesses are very high prices.

  8. Woodstone is a pretty bland name. Could Mama Roxy be too ethnic?

    The new menu, like the old, doesn't provide guidance on how many people can be served by family style dishes.

  9. I did a little research on the domain, looks like it was registered to an individual in Brooklyn with an Italian surname. I am kind of surprised at them giving up on the place after a year, I doubt they were given a mindblowing offer in this economic climate.

  10. Thanks.

    The restaurant business is a mystery, except many more seem to fail than succeed.

  11. Asked the waitress when we went recently. There used to be 4 owners (I think...) and 2 of them have left. Hence the name change. The owners that also own Roxanne's in Mahwah were the ones that left.

    The menu is almost exactly identical to what it used to be. The Mama Roxy chips are now the Woodstone Chips, etc.

  12. Thanks for the update.

    For Italian, I've been going to Santucci's Trattoria, a BYO on Kinderkamack Road in River Edge, and Amici's Family Restaurant in Bergenfield.


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