Rolos is located in Ridgewood, Queens. A diverse neighborhood that has been untouched by new development. Most still live in row houses built at the turn of the 20th century. But like all neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, they have seen the shift of urban families not leaving for the suburbs but for neighborhoods outside of Manhattan.
We made the journey to Rolos on Saturday night. A team of ex-Gramercy Tavern alums is the chefs and brains behind this new neighborhood gem. I told Howard Kalachnikoff, one of the chefs and owners, how genius it was to open a spot like Rolos in Ridgewood. He said he had been thinking about it for years.
It is always great to walk into a new spot to see and feel the vibe. Casual chic was the look, and thank god nobody was wearing sweatpants or yoga clothes. The place just felt good.
The polenta bread coming out of the old-school wood-fired oven is a must. Sesame and wild oregano, Jonah crab salad, Calabrian chili butter, and simple olive oil and salt. Soft, steaming bread melts in your mouth like a good pizza crust.
Housemade mortadella, pickled carrots, tahini chickpeas, cucumber and radish salad with feta and pistachios, hamachi crudo, charred asparagus, and grilled salt & pepper shrimps were demolished. We also had branzino and sweet pea pesto cavatelli. They were just as delicious.
Dessert, of course. Affogato, two ice creams, a citrus sundae covered in meringue, and a brown butter sour cherry tart. Also devoured!
Organization is critical for a kitchen. After our meal, Howard took us into the back of the kitchen. This place runs like a fine-tuned machine. I love this stuff.
We did learn a cooking lesson about the potatoes that I will do this summer. The potatoes are boiled, cooled, cut, and dried. Then they are roasted at super high heat in an oven. Makes all the difference in the world.
The wood for the oven.
The industrial-sized fixtures, including a soft ice cream machine!
Not clear I will make the trip often, but as everyone becomes more intent on staying in their neighborhood in the post-Covid world, this is one fine addition to Ridgewood.