Monday, September 10, 2012


North Myrtle Beach has been a favorite family vacation spot for years. Until recently, The Chesapeake House held the coveted title of “Amanda’s favorite beach restaurant.” This past summer, it officially slipped out of first place, and fell behind my new favorite: Rossi’s. In the restaurant business, consistency is key. After several visits over the past few years, each experience has been met with knowledgeable and well-versed servers, and some of the most authentic Italian cuisine I’ve ever come across.

Located in Myrtle Beach’s famous “Restaurant Row,” the atmosphere at Rossi’s is much like something you’d see in a Scorsese gangster film - you don’t want to make eye contact with the big dudes dining at the dark corner tables. Chatty, neighborly bartenders make a delicious Grey Goose Dirty Martini with blue cheese-stuffed olives – perfect to wash down some of the best bar freebies I’ve ever consumed. Lucky for me, the bartender was feeling extra chatty and started rattling off the recipe. Saltine Crackers are doused with butter, dry ranch dressing seasoning, dill, red pepper flakes and baked to salty perfection. A hunk of sharp white cheddar cheese is just asking to be sliced atop these crackers.
Mushrooms DGM is a tasty appetizer, though the menu doesn’t clarify what the “DGM” stands for. Button Mushroom caps are stuffed with a mixture of feta, parmesan and ricotta cheeses, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. A splash of fresh lemon juice provides a necessary acidity and enhances the sharpness of the cheese.

Rossi’s knows people like their carbs. With the salad course comes a loaf of buttery, homemade Italian bread topped with raw, minced garlic. I was totally unprepared for the Wedge Salad I ordered. It was half of a head of iceberg lettuce, topped with bits of bacon, tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles: the largest wedge I’ve ever seen. I quickly learned that Rossi’s is not shy about their portion sizes. Roquefort is a quintessential steakhouse dressing option and echoed the blue cheese nicely.

Grouper Meuniere tops a thick cut of the fish with lump crab meat, then is broiled in a lemon butter sauce. Scallions provide a nice tang. This is a phenomenal preparation of grouper, and may be my favorite fish now.

The Pasta Combination presents three noodle classics, though the flavors were a bit one-noted. Manicotti, Cheese-Stuffed Shells and Lasagna are a classic Italian trio, though the meat sauce in the lasagna was the only thing that really separated these dishes. Fortunately, Rossi’s does noodles, tomato sauce and cheese well, so it wasn’t difficult to enjoy the three. And the gravy boat full of fresh parmesan cheese is too tempting to have at one’s disposal.

I love restaurants that will create something for you that isn’t on the menu. One of my dining partners had a specific craving, and the customer’s wish is the kitchen’s demand. Angel Hair with Shrimp, Tomatoes, Olive Oil and Garlic was light, yet full of flavor. If the ingredients are this high-quality, you don’t need tons of components to the dish.

Though summer is coming to an end (everyone put up your whites!), make one last trip to Myrtle Beach to indulge in Rossi’s. You’ll be a fan for life.

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