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Rosanna’s Pasta rocks my Lick the Plate world

David Boylan

The Rosanna’s trifecta of Meatball Sub, Lasagna and Panini
The Rosanna’s trifecta of Meatball Sub, Lasagna and Panini. Photo David Boylan

Rosanna’s reminds me of a joint I would find in an urban neighborhood, not a strip mall on El Camino Real. It’s a narrow storefront with wine and nice selection of wine and other Italian products up front, followed by a couple of coolers filled with fresh pasta, olives, cheese, dishes to go, and Italian meats. Next up is the register then the kitchen that appears to be double the size of the front of the house. The kitchen size is a key indicator as they serve up a lot of fabulous food and why not prepare it in a suitable space?

I’ve been writing Lick the Plate for a while now and I’ve noticed similar characteristics that the standout eateries share. There is a look of anticipation, excitement and happiness on the faces of the customers as they wait for their food. The folks getting it to go tend to bolt to their cars, counting the minutes until they are home and can dig into that Italian goodness. I know there have been several occasions where my food has not made the trip home as I pulled over on a side street and ate it all in the car. Or, even better, I’ve not been able to make it past the first open table where I sit down and tear into my bag and eat its contents on the spot. The people dining in tend to have an almost joyful exuberance about them, transfixed so intently on their meals that they are almost oblivious to the outside world. These attributes are commonplace at Rosanna’s and it’s a very good thing. It’s also common and not the slightest bit awkward to find several solo diners with their singular focus being the plate of food in front of them, conversation would be a distraction from the task at hand, the self-pleasure derived from the food at Rosanna’s.

I’m somewhat a creature of habit when it comes to Rosanna’s though I have been spreading my wings of late. My go-to is the Meatball Sandwich (which is more of a sub or hoagie than a traditional sandwich but whatever) with extra provolone cheese though that’s just a personal preference and it’s really fine as they offer it. The soft, yet crunchy on the edges roll, house made meatballs and sauce with cheese is on my mind on a regular basis. They also offer a Hot Sausage with Peppers and Eggplant Parmesan in this category as well, both of which are on my short list.

The lasagna is as good as I’ve had anywhere, period. It’s just so perfect. I prefer to order it hot to go as by the time I get it home, it’s still warm but the cheese has solidified to the point where it’s easier to cut slices while holding it’s shape. I’m not sure if this is a serving for two or not but it’s very difficult to resist eating the whole thing. If I do exercise some self-control, it’s equally good cold later on or as breakfast the next morning. In fact, cold lasagna from Rosanna’s is a go-to fixer the day after a big night out. It’s kind of in the same category as cold pizza but much more satisfying. Trust me on this one; it’s all that and then some. Spinach lasagna is also an option but as of this writing I’ve not tried that one yet.

There are 11 varieties of homemade pasta available with as many selections of sauces and toppings. I’ve only had the pesto but would bet that any combination you select is going to work. They have a nice guide on their website should you wonder what sauce pairs best with what variety of pasta.
I did venture into Panini land recently and kept it simple with the Ham and Provolone cheese and now I feel like I have another reason to go back to Rosanna’s. The bread is amazing and they chop the lettuce that gives it an even more delectable texture. I counted 11 different types of Panini and every one looked like it was worth trying.

Of the 7 salads, I’ve only had the Caprese California with sliced tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, avocado, hearts of palm with an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. It’s their take on the traditional Caprese and it’s damn good.

Rosanna’s Pasta Shop was established in 1987 and was originally located on Coast Highway 101 in Old Encinitas so yes, it’s stood the test of time. It’s family owned by Italian born Rosanna and her French husband Jean-Louis. My only complaint with Rosanna’s is they close a bit early at 7:30pm Monday-Saturday and 4pm on Sunday. I’ve learned to adjust though and hey, when you are this good, you keep the hours you want right?

Rosanna’s is located at 270 N. El Camino Real, Suite I, Encinitas. 760.753.6867 www.rosannaspastashop.com

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