For my birthday dinner a few weeks ago, I was quite set on going to my favorite restaurant of all-time, Mama’s Restaurant in Hackettstown, NJ. However, Sister Cookie told me about a restaurant she recently tried with Eggplant Rollantini she claimed could rival Mama’s. Given that Mama’s Eggplant Rollantini is my favorite restaurant dish of all time, I had to see if this was true.
So, we set out to Rosie’s Trattoria in Randolph, NJ to celebrate my birthday in the only way I know how: by stuffing my face with food.
I’m going to give you the good news before the bad, so let’s talk about the food. Like any good Italian joint, they gave us free bread. It was crusty and warm, but best of all, it came with both butter and olive oil sprinkled with parmesan. After trying each, I definitely loved that oil complimented by the cheese. However, I must complain that there was not enough of anything. We should’ve had more bread considering our large party, and the oil was only enough for maybe two people.
For an appetizer, I selected Mozzarella en Carozza, a dish I am always curious to try when it’s on the menu. FYI, “mozzarella en carozza” means “mozzarella in carriage.” Rosie’s was delicious. That breading was crisp and tasty without being bland, and it was loaded with cheese. But they only give you two, which is extremely depressing, especially considering the price.
The only thing that was a bit off-putting was the texture of the mozzarella. They need better quality, or perhaps a different brand depending on where they get it from. It was “choke-y,” tasteless and hard to swallow.
I suppose I don’t need to tell you what I ordered for dinner since that’s the whole reason I went there, but yes, I got the Eggplant Rollantini. The eggplant rolls themselves had a generous amount of filling, but you could tell the ricotta was not homemade, and the breading was quite thin. That same mozzarella that was in the Mozzarella en Carozza was on top of the eggplant.
I will say, however, that the serving size was perfect, and WOW, they have some of the best marinara sauce I’ve ever had, if not the best. I am not a marinara fan most days, so for me to be impressed is a big deal.
Overall, although I thought the eggplant was great, Mama’s still reigns supreme.
Now we have to talk about the bigger issue, which is why I have no desire to ever eat at Rosie’s again: the service.
I did not like the feeling of being suffocated and under constant surveillance. First of all, we were seated in this awkward dark corner. In fact, the entire restaurant was very dark, and it made for a gloomy atmosphere. Furthermore, our location was directly by the door, so servers were standing practically on top of our table at all times. That is an awful set up.
The biggest issue I had was the fact that the servers were overwhelming and vulcher-like. They loomed around the table the entire time, and I mean the ENTIRE time. They did so in an invasive way that made you feel like you were under constant watch, and it created an incredibly anxious and tense experience. Furthermore, the servers leaned over you every five minutes to refill your water that you literally had only take two sips out of so far or to grab plates.
I understand taking a few things out of the way between courses, but these servers were reaching over you constantly to grab things. Everyone at dinner said they felt rushed, and poor Mother Cookie had her salad whisked away before she was ready. One of the servers took my BF’s napkin and placed it in his lap for him. This was well-meaning, no doubt, but it made my BF quite uncomfortable, and just wasn’t necessary in a restaurant like that. Maybe at a place where rich folks who can’t even wipe their own butts eat, but not here.
Overall, Rosie’s had potential but failed to live up to it. The food was good as a whole, but not worth bearing the horrendous service.