Dining at the New Rollati
That’s just what I did a couple weeks ago, when I was invited in as a guest to this handsome, bright, and spacious restaurant on the ground floor of the Miro luxury apartment building.
The first Italian-American restaurant from Passot and Vine CEO Obadiah Ostergard, it features both indoor and outdoor dining, plus a small marketplace to buy pantry staples and prepared foods to-go.
If you’re lucky, you might just hit it on a night where there’s a trio of musicians playing in the bar-lounge, too.
Ostergard’s nephew, Chef Sam Gimlewicz, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who went on to work at the acclaimed Nina June restaurant in Maine, designed the menu that’s overseen by Chef de Cuisine Christian Luxton, formerly of Berkeley’s Hotel Shattuck Plaza.
Cocktails naturally have an Italian spin such as a racy spritz ($16) starring housemade limoncello with vodka, elderflower, prosecco, and soda that would be right at home on the Amalfi Coast; and the Rollati Negroni ($16), a smooth mix of Bulldog gin, Campari, and Carpono Antica.
Not to be missed is the signature eggplant rollatini ($16) that features two cinnamon roll-like crunchy spirals of breaded, fried eggplant wrapped around roasted garlic ricotta and arranged on a pool of marinara. It’s a saucy, cheesy, and homey tasting dish that thoroughly satisfies any craving for Sunday Italian cooking.
The traditional Caesar ($15) was crunchy and bright tasting under a hail of fluffy, finely grated Parmigiano. The crisp frico shards on top were a nice touch to add even more salty, nutty cheesy goodness.
Five pizzas are offered, including the Smoked Pie ($22) crowned with puddles of gooey smoked mozzarella, housemade sausage, and shaved fennel, which nicely enhanced the seasonings of the porky sausage.
Because the center of the pizza was rather limp, it was easier to eat it with a knife and fork. The rest of the crust was chewy and thin, even the rim that was fairly flat, making for a fine enough foundation but one without a lot of character.
The pastas are made in-house, including the spaghetti alla limon ($24), which you can get topped with Dungeness crab for an additional $14 or a lobster tail for $48 more. I went with the former, which added some sizeable chunks of crab to the pasta that was veiled in a lemon cream sauce that clung to each noodle but did not drown it, making for a much lighter tasting pasta than you would expect.
The spaghetti noodles were surprisingly thick, almost like udon ones. They had a nice chewiness to them. If you’re a fan of finer strands, though, this version might throw you off.
Another house specialty is the “Thousand” Layer Lasagna ($24) to which you can add beef short rib ragu for an additional $32. There may not be a thousand pasta sheets, but there are definitely a good many of them, piled up, then sliced into a neat slab that gets seared in a pan to create wonderful crisp edges.
My husband opted for the ragu, which sat underneath the lasagna. We both wished there had been a splash more marinara sauce on the plate because the lasagna, as tender as it was, ate like a big brick of pasta dough, as there’s little in between the layers. The ragu was very meaty, rather than saucy, so while delicious, it didn’t help to moisten the pasta.
A classic tiramisu ($13) is the perfect way to end. With layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone cream, it lived up to its “pick me up” definition with vivid coffee flavor.
Rollati may have opened only in September, but the staff is well trained and impressively attentive, attributes not always so easy to find these days in a still-challenged economy. So, big kudos for that.