With a lovely setting, inside and out, Rocco’s Italian Grille is another higher-end Italian venue, but one with a decidedly warm, neighborhood vibe. Open in 2006 by well-known local (by way of Italy’s Calabria region) Rocco Potami, who had been affiliated with a number of lauded Orlando-area eateries in years previous, the restaurant’s menu is diverse, featuring dishes from throughout the country: fritto misto alla ligure from the Ligurian Riviera, tender-fried Milanese chicken breast and a grilled Tuscan veal T-bone in a Chardonnay sauce are just a sliver of the regional delights in store. Fresh ingredients – be sure to ask your server for the bruschetta of the day – are a big part of this venue’s recipe for success.
Ever since I first reviewed Rocco’s Italian Grille & Bar, in October of 2006, I’ve considered it to be one of the finest Italian restaurants in the area. And since I don’t get the chance to return often enough, I jumped at the invitation to dine there recently to try some of the dishes that owner Rocco Potami rotates through his menu.
Coastal regions of Italy, particularly Veneto, are well-represented in the insalata di frutti di mare ($12), plump curls of shrimp, rounds of calamari and moist slices of scallops washed in a ‘secret marinadeâ?� of lemon juice, garlic and flecks of Italian herbs and served inside a large sea-scallop shell. Aesthetically, it’s as though Mercado is paying homage to Botticelli; culinarily, the dish is worthy of being served to a goddess.
Rocco’s Italian Grille • 400 South Orlando Avenue • Winter Park, Florida