“A bottle of red, a bottle of white, it all depends on your appetite.” I couldn’t shake Billy Joel’s classic ode to Italian cuisine in “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” as I dined at Rosetta’s Italian Restaurant in Canton, MA. The eatery is located in the town center, in an unassuming white building it shares with other tenants and what was once Rosario’s restaurant. Gone are the cramped quarters, rambunctiously noisy atmosphere, and blue collar service, replaced with a front to back dining room that lends to more intimate dining and conversations. The wait staff is friendly and patient, if not a bit too slowly paced (a 2 plus hour sitting on a not so busy Thursday evening). But that’s beside the point. If the rather non-descript building in which Rosetta’s resides is considered unassuming, then consider the food itself - much of it handmade and packed with bold flavors – a declaration that this eatery is a noteworthy addition to Canton and the local dining scene.
This is in large part to its staff, helmed by an owner who served in the Armed Forces for twenty years and strives for perfection, while a key member of his wait staff served as Food Manager for Quincy Hospital for ten years prior to its recent closure. The menu also boasts a very affordable price point (most appetizers are $6-$8, while large entrees range from $12-$16 and desserts top out at $7). The kitchen is also very flexible accommodating requests for substitutions.
Appetizers are surprisingly not Italian-inspired (perplexing sides of nachos, potato skins, and chicken wings don’t necessarily pair well with a bottle of vino). With that said, the BBQ crazy wings my son orders possess a wonderfully crispy exterior and a meaty, tender interior. As for entrees, the veal marsala is the most satisfying version I’ve consumed since Delfino’s memorable take in Roslindale. The veal was extremely tender, while the sauce – one that so many restaurant’s claim can produce but very few properly execute – is pure heaven: a thick, buttery, topping laced with fresh mushrooms. The meat was paired with house-made parpadelle, perhaps a tad undercooked (not quite al dente), but the noodles were a delicious complimentary sauce-sopper, nonetheless. The veal parmigiana was no slouch, either, a mammoth piece of perfectly breaded meat topped with a zesty, hearty marinara sauce.
Desserts are decent, if not less memorable. While the tiramisu’s cake was spongy and nicely soaked in rum, and a spiced homemade carrot cake was warm and comforting, both suffered from excess frosting. I’m afraid White’s Bakery (Brockton, Mansfield) and Montilio’s (Braintree) would be the nearest locations, outside of the North End, to find that perfect cannoli.
Rosetta’s also stocks a very reasonably priced ($6-9 by the glass, $22-40 by the bottle), short selection of wines. About a half dozen reds and whites primarily hail from Italy with a few outliers from California and Washington. A fruity La Maialina “Gertrude” Tuscan red blend and a complex, velvety J Lohr cabernet provided noteworthy sips.
As our meal concludes, I find myself gravitating back to the apt lyrics of that classic Billy Joel tune. “We’ll get a table near the street, in our old familiar place.” That’s what Rosetta’s is: nothing flashy on the outside, taking its place alongside busy Washington Street, and yet, creating surprisingly well executed, flavorful Italian cuisine. This eatery can most certainly become that old familiar place both couples and families should seek out for a satisfying dining experience.