Inside: The Rossi Bar & Kitchen
A casual, yet classy Short North hot spot
Special to Metromix
The Rossi is one of those Short North places that you probably always walk past, thinking you're a bit too underdressed to actually hang there, judging by the understatedly classy storefront.
Well, here's our inside scoop: The Rossi is for just about everyone. The place serves some of the best pizza and burgers in town, and you definitely don't have to be wearing a suit or heels to be accepted into this casual yet classy dining hot spot.
Food: The contemporary American food at Rossi really lives up to all of the glitz and glam buzzing around the place. Take the appetizer menu, for example—with options like Asian barbeque spare ribs (with Napa slaw and lychee nuts, $11) and fire-roasted meatballs (with Peppedew white cheddar and sun-dried tomato focaccia, $8), the Rossi shows it means business by serving up starters that people would normally think of as entrees.
The Yukon gold French fries (with lemon-basil aioli dip, $4) is the closest the apps get to traditional starters, and they are seriously delicious. They come out skinny and not as crunchy as we might be partial to, but the flavor is fantastic, especially paired with the aioli.
The New York style pizza is almost all the way up to traditional Italian standards, with a tomato and basil sauce that is a perfect balance between sweet and savory. Top the pie with anything from prosciutto di Parma to Hormel Rosa Grande, pepperoni, Italian sausage, imported anchovies, roasted peppers, mushrooms, sautéed spinach-the list goes on (large pizza $14, small pizza $12, add 1 item $2).
The Rossi has two different pricing sections, most evident in comparing the sandwich selection to the actual entrees. If you're watching your wallet, check out the Rossi Burger, rumored to be one of the best (if not the best) in Columbus (served with fresh-cut fries, $9). The secret that makes this burger so satiating is probably in that you can really tell the burger was grilled and hand-pressed, with a great flavor, and cooked exactly to your liking.
For those looking to pull out all the stops, browse through the entrée section, with options like crispy duck salad (duck confit, mesclun greens, apricot, red chili goat cheese and orange marmalade, $17), the pistachio crusted salmon (lemon couscous, Italian spinach and pomegranate vinaigrette, $18), or the Berkshire rib chop (with smoked potato salad, snow peas and wild mushroom demi-glaze, $25).
Rossi's dessert is not to be missed, with house-made concoctions using goods from Pistachio Vera and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. On a recent visit, we tried the daily special: layered Jeni's ice cream (dark chocolate gelato), salty caramel, and vanilla bean-rolled in chopped almonds and drizzled with caramel sauce.
Libations: There is a decent wine selection at Rossi, making it tempting to pair your meal with a glass of red or white (prices range from $6-9.50 per glass). There is also a full bar, but unfortunately no happy hour.
Décor: From the outside, Rossi looks like a classy place, with simple black wood fronting and the red-lit Rossi sign. Inside, the design delivers definite class, with luxe dark wood, rich chocolate, bronze and silver cloth-lined booths, and beautifully modern hanging light fixtures. There are obvious seats around the place where you sit to be seen, and then there are more private tables that are in the middle of the place yet somehow feel separate from the hustle and bustle going on. The one odd thing is that some of the seats are situated awkwardly close together, with just inches between you and your neighbor.
Service: When you first visit Rossi, there's a general expectation of great service because of the lavish décor, the expensive menu and the clientele. But the service at Rossi is more like what you would expect from a bar and grill. The servers are also the hosts and bartenders, and they bus the tables. It's quite a lot to ask of a single person, which makes it easy to understand why the service at Rossi doesn't meet expectations. Prepare yourself for a wait on a busy weekend night, and then to wait awhile between your meal courses, and then for the bill.
Crowd: At first glance, Rossi looks like it would attract an elite group of people, but you'll find a ton of hipsters hiding out here, as well as business people getting a little rowdy after long workdays. There's a nice hustle and bustle to the place that makes it feel happening enough to go here with friends, but it's not too crazy, so Rossi makes a fabulous date destination. We'd say the dress is casual, but we didn't see any hoodies here, either. It's a great place to have cocktails during a girl's night out, a fun birthday hangout and also just good if you're in the mood for a fabulous burger.
Insider's tip: Keep in mind that the pizzas have a longer prep time, which means you'll probably want to order an appetizer to keep the stomach from growling. The pizzas generally take about 20-25 minutes to arrive at the table on a raised platter.
Bottom line: The menu and atmosphere at Rossi create a unique sense of casual class, complete with consistently great food and desserts that take standard American cuisine up a notch.
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