Thanks to Sarah over at the Delicious Life, and her new Dine & Dish event, I had an excuse to visit the Rossi bar a few times in the past week. Open for about a month now, the Rossi Bar has taken a formally scary, cramped dive (Roadhouse Annie's) and turned it into a sleek, if small, Art Deco showplace. The bar itself is quite a piece of art, having been sourced out from somewhere in Brooklyn and painstakingly refinished, featuring pressed glass panels that are echoed in the store front windows - a nice touch that, alas, I don't have in photo form at this time. The Rossi Bar has to be one of the only places in Columbus where I have never sat at the actual bar - I'm a bar fly, I always sit at the bar - but at the Rossi, I always seem to be there with large groups of people, and their booths are really comfortable, upholstered in crushed brown velvet with glittery acrylic seats. This might sound a bit tacky, but it works.
The Rossi might be the closest thing to a true "bistro" in Columbus, featuring quality food and drink until the wee hours in the morning. Late-night dining is very important to anyone in the food service industry, as we are always working until l1 or later, and we need sustenance after work, preferably other than White Castle. The menu at the Rossi seems a little ambitious - I mean, it's a bar, right? Well, yes and no. It is a bar, but it's a bar with a chef. The menu features appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees and pizzas.
From the appetizers, I chose the lamb lollipops; 3 lamb chops for $9, which I did find to be a little high, but the lamb was good. It was paired with a fingerling potato and haricots verts (french green beans) salad, which I thought would be hot for some reason, and was a little put off when it was chilled. My dining companion thought it was great, which I conceded, I just wished the menu would have said "cold fingerling potato and haricots verts." Next up for appetizers is the vegan shitake mushroom and walnut tortellinis in hot and sour miso broth. This dish was great for being a vegan dish; the walnuts really add a nice meatiness and richness to the dish; the broth wasn't very hot (as in "hot and sour") but was still a well-executed miso with superfluous bits of diced firm tofu floating about. Lastly for appetizers, the always-delicious Yukon Gold Fries with Lemon Basil Aioli. Yum. I think I mentioned in my preview that the aioli was so good I acquired the recipe. I know these are bad for you but every once in awhile you have to splurge. Aside from that, all of your friends will steal them off your plate anyway.
I have tried 2 salads at the Rossi: First, the frisee with warm bacon vinaigrette, which I personally wasn't very fond of; although the tastes work together well, the dressing really wilts the frisee in an unappealing way. Next up for salads is the Date and Tangerine salad, which has been my personal favorite so far. Sadly, I cannot remember the dressing but I promise to update this as soon as I go back. At the rate I'm going, it shouldn't be long.
For sandwiches, and again, I mentioned this in the preview, the Ham and Gruyere with Fried Egg on brioche has really won my heart. Those guys at the Rossi (also responsible for Club 185 - 185 Livingston Ave on the south side of downtown - and the Press Grill - 741 North High st, also in the Short North) really love to put fried eggs on whatever sandwich suits their fancy, and it works really well. While I won't be ordering this sandwich with any frequency (for what should be obvious reasons), it is really great. And it comes with fries and more of the wonderful lemon basil aioli, for what is life without mixing your cholesterol-rich foods?
At this time, I cannot really speak to the entrees, as I have only tasted the jalapeno spoon bread that comes with the Short Ribs, but again, I will post an update, as a few of my coworkers, whose opinions I respect, are really excited over them.
And now on to the pizza. A friend of mine said a few days ago that he thinks the Rossi might have the best pizza in Columbus. At first I scoffed. "How can that be?!" I demanded, thinking of all of the pizza joints that have been around forever. But the proof is in the pie, as they say, and the Rossi's is a really great one - I have had their pizza 3 times in the past 4 days. Their crust can sometimes be a little thin in the middle, leading to a nervous dining when you are pulling your piece away - will the center fall in, causing all of my toppings to fall to the table in one big glop? The trick is to start folding your slice as soon as you pull it away, supporting the point with with one hand, holding the crust in the other. The crust is good if occasionally a bit salty, nicely chewy where it's supposed to be and crisp where it's supposed to be. The toppings are good quality - the Italian sausage is very hot - and are reasonably applied so you have a good balance of crust, sauce, and topping. Nothing is overdone. Their pizza guy knows his stuff.
And then, of course, being the kind of girl who is a sucker for cool packaging, there's the fact that the carryout pizza from Rossi comes in a big white envelope with their named stamped on top. What could be cooler than that? I bet their staff is happy they don't have to spend all day folding pizza boxes.
In conclusion, I really like the Rossi, and I am happy for their success. Like the Northstar Cafe, I am a little irritated that it came after I moved out of the neighborhood, but what are you going to do? You might spend a little more than you think of when you think of "bar food," but it will be worth it.
Info: The Rossi Bar 895 North High St, Columbus, OH 614.299.2810