Focaccia and Wheat with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Charcoal Eggplants, Tomato, Basil, Peppers
Black Tagliolini with Octopus
Pappardelle, Chicken Livers, Sage
Pork Loin, White Mole, Epazote
Braised Short Ribs, Creamy Polenta
Americano with Meringue
Affogato with Cardamom Ice Cream
Mamey, Pixtle, Taxcalate Crumb
Chicozapote of Flan and Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream
Smoked Meringue, Cream, Pulque, Vanilla
Classically trained at New York’s French Culinary institute and returning to her native Mexico in 2010 to open an Italian Restaurant in the heart of Roma, Mexico City, Chef Elena Reygadas took a chance where many had come up empty prior, her Rosetta and its attached Panaderia now amongst the most well-regarded dining spaces in all of Latin America.
Embracing the concepts of a market driven menu and using everything from sources as local as possible, the converted Colonial townhouse utilizing a minimally upgraded kitchen with a basement bakery to produce everything from Pastas and Sauces to a vast array of Breads on sight, those arriving at Rosetta will find the restaurant rather quaint compared to the sizeable white resort looming over it from the street corner, a hostess taking names at the door as reservations are advised but not required, a 4:00pm Saturday arrival offering no seats inside, but a beautiful two-top on the shaded patio where temperatures hovered just over 70°F.
Changing the menu daily, both English and Spanish versions available on request, a first glance will show Reygadas’ style to truly embrace both her heritage and her training with a whole lot of added personality, each plate described by no more than three or four ingredients though the final product inevitably proves far more elaborate, though neither the plating nor the demeanor of the staff comes off fussy or pretentious.
Not a place for flash or glamour on the plates, that left to the well-heeled crowd of locals who enjoy relaxing on the patio with a cigarette and Coffee in hand, it was shortly after Grissini and a fluffy pile of Focaccia arrived that an order was placed with requests for a slow roll-out, first bites of the smoky Eggplant spread buried under vine-fresh Tomatoes and sliced Peppers showing a deft hand with produce, every ingredient doing their part and all existing in a balance that was as bright and vibrant on the tongue as on the plate.
Understanding that some may wish to dine indoors to avoid the constant barrage of street vendors peddling everything from Candy to Flowers to Toy Trucks, it was with a serenade from both guitar and flute that the meal moved forth, two plates of housemade Pasta including the seasonal Tagliolini and classic Pappardelle both sizable in portion and up-front in flavor, the former embracing the flavors of Cioppino head-on with chunks of crispy Octopus added for texture while the wide ribbons were cooked and sauced beautifully with enough herbs and butter to stand up to the seared Chicken Liver segments.
Doing a remarkable job of coaxing big flavors out of each ingredient, Secondi at Rosetta continued to embrace a theme of simplicity in an era where many Chefs seem to overshoot, the 7oz Short Rib served on a creamy bed of Polenta cooked crisp on the edge but tender on the inside beneath a sauce with pronounced sweetness while the Rare Pork Loin was only marred by the fact that the provided knives were not sharp enough to cut through the flesh, a small oversight quickly forgiven after one bite of the Mole Blanco with light notes of Banana and Fig coming through amidst the backdrop of Seeds and White Chocolate.
Certainly not skipping desserts considering the praise lavished on Rosetta Panaderia it was to no one’s surprise that the kitchen once again shined with sweets thin slices of Mamey served over cream made from the plant’s seed plus a Chocolate crumble starting things off alongside Coffee and an elegant Cardamom Affogato, and only getting better with a Vanilla Malt tasting Flan bruleed beneath Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream followed by the white-on-white-on-white showstopper of smoked Merigue topped in Agave Cream with a sour start and mellow Vanilla finish.