Lake Avenue in Lake Worth, Florida, has its own quaint unique charm. Besides the Lake Worth Playhouse (see related story about the production of Hair), there are numerous shops and restaurants of various “flavors.” Restaurants and eateries? Key West style. French. Italian. Irish. Deli (Too Jays). Even a Starbucks (no I have been assured the one on Lake Avenue is not closing). Lucerne Avenue, too, has numerous eateries and shops. Nice mixture. There was once a neat little chocolate shop. I miss that one.
On my numerous journeys to downtown Lake Worth, there have been two reasons for being there: Lake Worth Playhouse and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Whatever the reason, I have often eaten at Rotelli Pizza Pasta Perfect Restaurant. I have probably eaten at Rotelli more than any of the other, so there must be a reason why I continue to return there.
Whether in groups of fifteen, four, two, or just by myself, I have had excellent service on all but one occasion. I estimate I have eaten there about six or seven times over the past two to three years. So, one slightly less than excellent service is not a bad track record. But, that has been only my own personal experience.
On my most recent visit, my meal consisted of an Italian Merlot, salad, lasagna with side of sausage, and tiramisu for dessert. I was deciding between the lasagna and the eggplant parmesan when the waiter recommended the lasagna. I am glad he made the recommendation. By my limited experience in Italian food, I thought it was great. It had been a long time since I had eaten lasagna (we get things we don’t ordinarily make for ourselves when we eat out, don’t you know?).
On previous visits, I ordered sausage and enjoyed the Rotelli offering. Perhaps Rotelli is no better than other venues when it comes to sausage. But, I like ordering extra protein at times, despite its fat content. I rarely eat sausage, so I ordered the meat at Rotelli where I had enjoyed it in the past. Simple, right?
Salad with blue cheese dressing. Blue cheese dressing is blue cheese dressing, right? Wrong. The best blue cheese dressing is the recipe I make and I got that one from my parents. My dad sold Maytag appliances (remember the “lonely repairman?”). Few people realize that the Maytags had a farm in Iowa and also sold Maytag blue cheese. As a kid, we made our blue cheese dressing using the blue cheese from the Iowa Maytags. The recipe is great. I have it memorized and can make it up in a minute or two. So, while I enjoy a good blue cheese dressing in any restaurant, none have compared to the dressing I make – that I “inherited” from my family. Rotelli blue cheese dressing? Okay. Average.
The best blue cheese dressing I have ever been served in any restaurant, bar none, was at the Leverock’s Seafood House chain of restaurants in the St. Petersburg / Clearwater area. Hmmm. No surprise, but one of the owners of the chain was my father’s boss in New York, Dick Tappan. While employed by Tappan, my father was “certified” to be a Maytag repairman because Tappan once held the franchise for Maytag in my hometown. When Tappan sold the business in New York and moved to St. Pete, he started a fishing business and eventually the Leverock’s chain. Wonder if there is any relation to the blue cheese dressing in the restaurants? Family secret? Tappan, by the way, told me just prior to his death that he intended to open a Leverock’s in Jupiter – Palm Beach County. Never happened.
I love to diverge, don’t you know?
Have I held your attention thus far?
Wine. Red wine. The Bible says a little wine is good for the belly. The Puritans and the Saudis have it all wrong. I don’t know the basis of the Saudi beliefs, but the Puritans confuse the Bible verses about “drunkards” with the word, “alcohol.” They were (and still remain) mentally ill, anyway. Nevertheless, if one reasons on this, he/she should recognize the difference. I have a firm belief that Americans are screwed up regarding alcohol due to the mentally ill Puritans (same can be said about the Saudi princes, too, particularly one who apparently masterminded the destruction of skyscrapers in New York City).
Again, my dad. At various dinners, my brothers and I were allowed to drink a little gulp of wine. We were always instructed about its value as a food, not as a social drink. Of course, my dad always gave this to us with the caveat of, “do as I say, not as I do.” But, we got the message. To this day, I rarely drink wine, unless it is with a meal. What my dad taught me those many years ago has stuck with me.
Of course, with evidence that those who drink red wine have less heart attacks, perhaps I should be drinking more. But, wine drinking with an occasional meal suffices for me. Once in a great while, perhaps I drink wine (or sometimes a beer) rather than have a glass of water or soda. But those occasions are rare. Red and white wine usually remains in my refrigerator to age.
Typically, I buy standard American (California) red Merlot because I am not a connoisseur of wines. The Italian red wine at Rotelli Restaurant did have a better bouquet and flavor than most standard wines. But, it does compare quite well to the wine I have tested on tours of the Finger Lakes Wineries in Upstate New York. For example, I recall tasting a good Merlot at Casa Larga Vineyards in Fairport, NY. But then, I am told this vineyard is not too many generations removed from an Italian master in wines. Is this true or hearsay?
Tiramisu for dessert. Believe it or not, I have never had tiramisu for dessert. What a sheltered life I have led, don’t you know? So, I have nothing to compare Rotelli Restaurant’s version. The taste was great. I enjoyed it. There are also stories I have been told about the origin of tiramisu. Maybe another time.
Not far down the road from Rotelli Restaurant, one can learn more about cullinary intrigue, including “wine appreciation for beginners.” There are various courses of cullinary interests offered at Palm Beach Community College. The Lake Worth campus is within five miles of Rotelli Restaurant.
If you plan to see a show at Lake Worth Playhouse, Rotelli Restaurant is several doors to the east of the playhouse – easy walking; consider dinner and the play. This reviewer believes it is well worth it!
As for the productin of Hair at the Lake Worth Playhouse, it runs only until Saturday, August 9. In fact, I am told there are only a few seats remaining in the Saturday matinee (August 9), so call the playhouse quickly!
As for Rotelli Restaurant, I strongly recommend it for dinner and theatre. Nice surroundings. In cooler weather, one can eat in the outdoor seating area. There is a separate room for larger parties (call first, though!).
If I had to give a rating, I would say, “four” out of “five” stars. But do not rely on me for rating Italian restaurants beause my “repertoire” is limited. For dinner and theatre, it is quite nice. For dinner with friends after social or church functions, Rotelli Restaurant is a nice place to dine.
The one drawback to Rotelli Restaurant is its web presence. A colleague and I had difficulty finding information about it as we were deciding where we wished to eat before the show. We likely never found the Rotelli Web presence, just information by reviewers and other sources; an actual web page never came up in the first block of results in a Google search. This is a positive criticism because the owners need to get word out more about a good thing! But then, my dad always believed word of mouth was more efficient advertising. So, do what you have to do, Rotelli Restaurant. You will likely see me returning at some time in the furture!
Rotelli Pizza Pasta Perfect Restaurant
Number of seats: 188
701 Lake Ave
Lake Worth Fl 33460
(Source: FloridaHost.info, http://www.floridahost.info/restaurants/lake_worth_restaurants.html, accessed August 8, 2008).