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Rossario's

Update 9/8/11: Rossario's is closed. Thanks for the heads up, Madison Dining Online.

In a word: Hyde.

The specs: #0558  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Madison Fish Fry, Yelp, Trip Advisor; pics of Pasta on the Board: Centro Hispano and The Andersons, listing at Eat Drink Madison; official web site, Rossario's on Urbanspoon

Latest Rossario's news and reviews

JM ate the ravioli.
John ate the steak panini with a diet Sierra Mist.
Nichole ate the chicken puttanesca with a house lambrusco.
Rose ate the shrimp primavera.
The bill was $50, or $12.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Rossario's a C+; Nichole gave Rossario's a C- (see our grading rubric).

Steak paninoRossario's was packed on the Friday night we visited. The perfume of fish fry wafted out the front door, and at least one bambino's birthday celebration was getting set up in back as we ate. Clearly this is a place beloved of its regulars, who braved the massive construction on Monona Drive to reach Rossario's and its little brother Rossi's, the pizza joint in the basement. The construction might be the reason they've (temporarily?) reduced their days of operation to five per week, but as we'll get into, we hope they use the downtime for some winding down and sprucing up what could be fine red-sauce, traditional "Eye-talian" (to borrow a phrase from a dear Puglian family we know).

The service was hit or miss. There was no host, but we got a table quickly, thanks to a passing waitress. (Unfortunately said table was dangerously rickety and sat too close to a decorative room divider, such that Rose had to keep the hanging window at bay with her elbow for the whole meal). While our food arrived fast, we went without water or soda refills until the check came.

We considered the fish fry, but most of the fish selections were sold out. We then opted for some more standard Italian-American fare, yet were universally underwhelmed. We recognize that this may have left us with a less than complete picture of the place, so we'd love to hear from those in the know about their favorites.

Chicken putanescaJohn's panini was simple, just bread and meat, but the steak was too salty and the bread too gummy (toasting would have helped). Rose was disappointed that a simple meat sauce wasn't an option, and the red sauce in her shrimp primavera didn't cling to its angel hair pasta as she would have liked. JM's ravioli were acceptable, but with Angelo's down the street, he couldn't imagine returning for these. They were warm and a little chalky in texture. The gazpacho had a good flavor but had been prepped in a hurry, if cucumber seeds are any indication. And the chicken in Nichole's exceedingly oily yet flat fettuccine puttanesca had a texture that was disappointingly close to microwaved.

There was some cute kitsch (see do be do be do) and some very nice stained glass around the dining room and bar, but everything was under a layer of dust. The sad state of the restrooms was what cinched it for us - we think poor Rossario's is fast coasting past shabby chic into dilapidation. But there is hope: up next, Dr. Jekyll.

Comments

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It sucks that you guys had such a crummy time of it! Rossario's has become one of our favorites, but we usually go early in the evening during the week, when we have the place either to ourselves or with only one or two other tables. The times we've been there that it has been busy, the service and food *have* noticeably suffered.

My husband and I really like this place. We used to live on Monona Drive and sampled all the restaurants on that strip. Rosarrio's easily beat Angelo's in our book. The spaghetti and meatballs at Rosarrio's are amazing, the salad and bread leave something to be desired. Other favorites include the vegetable lasagna and chicken mangioni (sp). We still stop by to buy bottles of their spaghetti sauce to use at home.

I've been there for lunch and the food and service has been pretty good.

I used to love Rossario's about four-five years ago, and it was a favorite place to go with friends for an economical, nice meal.

Unfortunately, the last couple of times we went to the restaurant to food was not as good. The pasta was poorly cooked, the chocolate cake was off and the place looked a little run down. I am hoping they rally, as I have many happy memories associated with Rossario's.

Speaking of reductions in hours, WSJ just ran an article about the Monona Drive construction in which folks from David's Jamaican, Fraboni's, and Rossario's all check in. Bottom line: it's a rough summer.

Just saw the article before coming here. Expected I guess, but still sad, I really like David's Jamaican, hope everyone can hold on.

I've been going out of my way to visit David's more because of the ongoing construction. That place is a gem.

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