I’m always saddened to see the disappearance of any restaurant. Although I didn’t frequent La Ballona or Tokyo 7-7 with any regularity, with their absence goes a bit of Culver City history. Both had been around for several decades. Sigh.
Now we’ve got Rocco’s (pronounced “Rock-o’s) Tavern, the third installment of this Italian chain.
Along with the 901 Bar & Grill near USC, the other two locations are on Wilshire Boulevard near Crescent Heights—Rocco’s Pizza—and another Rocco’s Tavern in Studio City.
It looks like they’ve got another winner on their hands with this new arrival, giving downtown diners another culinary option.
Part sports bar, man cave and local Italian joint, this place has that industrial-chic personality, with lots of wood, brick and glass. I like the rollaway patio window, which is reminiscent of some old garage or fire station. This quaint touch is no doubt part of the design influence of one of its owners, Roger Toussaint.
The vibe is friendly and neighborly, which is evidenced by two of the managers, Cameron Hall and Angie Ras. I like the layout of the restaurant, along with the upright banquette seating, which gives you a birds-eye view of eight flat-paneled TVs displaying the seasonal sports of the day.
At the rear will be a speakeasy, slated to open around Aug. 15 if all goes as planned. We were able to sneak a peek, and it’s dense with rich woods, catering to the Barney’s crowd. Yes, there will even be a dress code. Expect it to be upscale with prices to match.
This dressy venue will be a welcome addition to the many flip-flop jean bars sprinkled along Culver and Washington Boulevards.
For casual diners, Rocco’s will suffice. The food is good, but not over- the-top foodie stuff like some of the restaurants nearby. But it’s definitely better than some of the reviews I’d read on Yelp that seemed to skewer this place.
Top awards go to both the Caesar and House Salads that accompanied our lunch entrees for a few dollars extra. The Caesar salad was one of the better ones I’ve had in a while, and the House was dense with mozzarella and a variety of olives.
Although our Jumbo Tender Artichoke ($10.95) was a bit underdone, it was flavorful, thanks to three accompanying sauces. Our favorite was the garlic aioli.
The Linguini with “Prince Edward Island” mussels was also good, ($10.95) although if I want mussels, I’ll head to down the street where it’s served about 10 different ways. We didn’t try any of the , but those that were eating them looked like happy campers.
The House Baked Eggplant Parmagiana ($10.95) was a dense mound of delight, also served with some wonderful garlic bread. However, I prefer my eggplant lighter with a little less breading. Those who enjoy it the other way won’t be disappointed.
All in all, this place will be a winner, thanks to its location, the fact that it resembles , and its close proximity to the parking structure on Carlyle.
Rocco's Tavern, 3843 Main Street, Culver City, 310-559-5500