Local favorite Roncone’s reopens – a Democrat and Chronicle’s article

It was very rewarding to read an article in the Democrat and Chronicle on December 20, 2010 because it talked about our restaurant.

by Karen Deyle

THE PLACE

A longtime Rochester favorite has re-opened this year under new ownership. In July, Joe Fantauzzo took the helm at Roncone’s, a Lyell Avenue institution. Fantauzzo brings years of restaurant ownership experience including the Cactus Café and Barkley’s. Roncone’s dates back to 1937, and is an anchor in what Fantauzzo calls “The Italian Triangle” that also includes nearby classic establishments Rocky’s and Antonetta’s.

He finds the sense of family and the trove of customer memories one of the best aspects of Roncone’s. Many couples tell him about how they met there, or how it was a favorite of their parents. It’s also his family that is helping to continue that tradition. Son-in-law Josh Ribble is chef, bringing experience from years at Charley Brown’s Restaurant in Penfield and a stint at Richardson’s Canal House. Daughter Sarah assists in the front of the house on Fridays and Saturdays. Long-time Rochesterians will also remember Johnny “Foof” Furfaro, formerly of Sir Richard’s who makes the rounds of the dining room on Saturday nights. All in all, it’s a place with lots of history, infused with new energy.

Eggplant Parmesan has layers of thinly sliced fresh eggplant topped with sauce and lots of cheese. (MATT WITTMEYER)

THE FOOD

A friend and I chose to meet for lunch since Roncone’s is just around the corner from the community outreach center where I work. We started with appetizers, an order of the fried ravioli with Arrabbiata sauce ($4.95), a spicy marinara sauce made with garlic and red pepper flakes. The name literally means “angry sauce” and is named for its fiery flavors. This was not unbearably hot, but had a subtle warming heat that was perfect for our recent round of chilly weather. The ravioli had a light bread coating and the trip to the fryer left the center oozing ricotta filling.

We also tried an order of the greens and beans ($6.95), a local Italian favorite. This featured the classic blend of escarole and white cannellini beans simmered with garlic. The escarole in this version was fresh and bright green. The chef’s secret is blanching the greens once they are tender allowing them to keep their verdant hue.

My friend ordered the eggplant Parmesan ($7.95), featuring layers of thinly sliced eggplant breaded then fried and topped with sauce and a generous layer of cheese. Fantauzzo says the original recipe used frozen eggplant rings, but he decided to use fresh ingredient instead. The sauce was good, and the dish perfect if you like a lot of cheese. My friend found the cheese a bit overwhelming for the delicate veggie slices.

I chose the Rochester favorite, chicken French ($8.95). I asked our server about the sauce, since I am not a fan of the sweet sauce interpretation. She assured me it had plenty of lemon, and used dry sherry, not wine, and so was not overly sweet. I also asked for a smaller side of pasta, preferring a small taste instead of an enormous platter. True to promise, it was nicely tangy, much more savory than sweet. I enjoyed a few forkfuls of the angel hair, and one of the breasts, and took the other one home with the remaining pasta for another full meal.

THE DRINKS

Wine and beer are served. The wines are food-friendly and served by glass or bottle. We had a simple carafe of house Cabernet.

THE ATMOSPHERE

The front room has gotten a facelift with a lighter color on the walls and murals painted by the same artist whose work graces the walls of Giovanni’s Ristorante Bravo in Victor. The back room maintains the same dark and cozy ambiance diners remember and love, with dark cherry paneled walls and framed wine posters. Historic photos from Rochester include a line-up of horse-drawn carts from Sibley, Lindsay & Curr.

THE SERVICE

Our server had just three days experience, but was enthusiastic about the menu offerings nonetheless. She told us she had already sampled many of the dishes and was able to describe and recommend them with confidence.

Additional Facts

Address: 232 Lyell Ave.
Phone: (585) 458-3090.
Web: www.ronconesrestaurant.com.
Hours: Serves lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Dietary preferences: Marinara and Alfredo sauces and the peppers Salvi are all vegetarian. Order any of them with stuffed shells, gnocchi or choice of pasta.
Parking: Street parking.
Prices: Appetizers, $4.95 to $8.95. Sandwiches, $5.95 to $7.95. Entrees, $6.95 to $10.95.

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LIVE MUSIC AT RONCONE’S

Mitty & The Followers,

one of the hottest Motown, R & B and variety acts around plays live at Roncone's every first Thursday of each month!

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