Munch Goes To Rotelli

Friday, February 21, 2003

Munch was covered in paint. Because of the snow, Munch decided to stay in and help a friend (FOM) paint his kitchen, his hallway, his bedroom ... well, nothing much was left unpainted, perhaps due to such generous -- and free -- help. So Munch toddled and toiled, up and down ladders, enduring paint spills, roller spatters and really sticky primer. Munch's bag was even recruited as a drop cloth at one point. "Good thing this is only my everyday bag, not my going-out bag," harrumphed Munch. And for all of Munch's trouble, a measly ham sandwich on rye was the only reward. FOM didn't even offer to replace the Munch bag.

Munch was hungry, but too tired to cook. So Munch drove toward the bright lights of Robinson Town Centre.

RTC offers much in the way of chain-restaurant choices, but Munch was too embarrassed of the paint-splattered bag to enter one of those cavernous establishments. But tucked away in an obscure corner was Rotelli.

Now, Munch must admit some frustration. Rotelli sports a plain sign with a simple logo, making it seem more a mom-and-pop joint than the elegantly furnished establishment it turned out to be. And even discovering this was an adventure, for the snow-piled parking lot was as difficult for Munch to traverse as for a mouse in a maze. Following false leads and several muttered obscenities not suitable for mouse nor Munch; Munch could see the sign, but had a very hard time getting there.

But at last, Munch walked in and was instantly pleased -- and dismayed. This was not the small spaghetti house Munch was expecting. Rotelli offers high ceilings, ochre-tinged cement walls, lovely paintings in bold colors and swanky black tables for its customers. And very nice customer service; the hostess barely lifted an eyebrow at Munch's dingy appearance.

There was no way Munch was going to sit on one of the plush black chairs, since Munch had earlier sat right on a paint roller. Munch asked if it were possible to get dinner to go. It was. Munch ordered large, and called FOM to let him know that dinner was on the way, provided by a not-so-gracious Munch: "I'll show him what I think about his ham sandwich!" Munch showed off by ordering the Portabella Short Stack ($8.95). It proved to be a wise decision: two enormous mushroom halves, soaked in a delicious balsamic viniagrette, stuffed with spinach, roasted red peppers and cheese. Munch could have eaten three of them. But further delights awaited.

Three manicottis ($10.96) were next -- Munch did share this meal, mind you -- delicate pasta tubes with a homemade texture, filled with creamy ricotta and topped by sweet marinara sauce. Quite tasty, it banished the much-maligned ham on rye to the further reaches of Munch's mind. For another couple bucks, Munch could have added on a soup or salad to the meal, but frankly, was just too tired to make the decision.

Munch's last choice was the least successful. Grilled chicken over a bed of vegetables ($10.96) was greasy and tough, but this could have been caused by the 20-minute car ride home. But the restaurant, just this week, introduced a new menu, so new that the hostess who took Munch's order couldn't find the right entry in the computer, and Munch even heard the chef ask the hostess what she meant by the grilled chicken. Not an auspicious beginning, so Munch was not surprised to have to diss the dish. Munch does plan to return to Rotelli to sample its pizza, which Munch heard many patrons praise, as well as to further investigate a nice selection of wines available by glass or by the bottle. Sensing that the polished, yet mass-market zest Rotelli's also offers, Munch did a little investigative work. Rotelli's is indeed part of chain of restaurants based in Florida, but a new chain to Pittsburgh. Another Rotelli recently opened in Wexford, and three more are planned for Brentwood, Mt. Lebanon and Bridgeville. Rotelli's is at 690 Chauvet Drive in Robinson Town Centre (near Target). The phone number is 412-788-6900.

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Rotelli Pizza & Pasta Inc.
4611 Johnson Rd., #1
Coconut Creek, FL

Phone: (954)601-0500
Fax: (954)601-0500

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