A Sports Bar (with some Italian Food) in Pasadena.
I was a bit bitter when I lost La Luna Negra…
Granted, that bitterness lasted only an afternoon, as I discovered that La Luna Negra simply picked up stakes and moved over to Arcadia.
So I didn’t lose a place I liked, and my Tapas needs would be met by Racion just across the street.
But…the space sat there for a long while, leaving me to wonder what would become of it.
Now I know. It’s become a Rocco’s Tavern.
And I am not pleased.
Rocco’s is a local chain of Taverns recently expanded into Pasadena. My bet now is the landlord who owned the space for La Luna Negra did what all Landlords do, jacked up the rent seeing what they could chisel out of the old Tenant, and knowing full well they could get that price from a new tenant.
Well, here we are…stuck with Rocco’s now.
But before I tear into it too badly, let me say Rocco’s is a nice space. It’s open, with a bar that dominates their landscape, and a few tables scattered behind. It feels like half the space that was La Luna is now covered up. My own iPod’s greatest hits (from High School) were blaring on the speakers. Not the greatest music, but inviting, friendly.
You are surrounded…and I mean literally surrounded by Televisions. If you want to watch the Sporting event of your choice, it will be on in Rocco’s somewhere. If you want to watch said sporting event with the beer of your choice, Rocco’s definitely has your back, and the restaurant is not a bad place to do it.
But as a restaurant, it is merely ordinare. It’s serving Italian Food, but Italian food that you could get in the frozen foods section of your local Ralph’s. Buca di Beppo down the block and Mi Piace up on Colorado smoke this joint.
Granted, I usually allow new places a year long grace period to figure things out and get their groove going, but…this is a chain. So, I’m kinda operating on the assumption that they do this all the time. My guess is, this is as good as it gets. Ordinary pastas, but a good Sports Bar, if you think of it that way.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Probably down the block to Buca di Beppo’s, but since you’re here…
I had the Rocco’s Five Cheese Ravioli Lasagna. Now, let’s be clear, I wasn’t about to spit it out or anything, but it was incredibly ordinary as far as comparisons go. I’ve had Italian that felt like sunshine raining down on my taste buds, and…well…this wasn’t that. Is it a nice meal? Yeah. Will it satisfy you? Yeah, probably. Will you be pounding your fist, begging for seconds? Not in a million years.
It also comes with a House Salad, again not bad.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: I think the Rocco’s is a nice looking place. It’s open and airy. Not quite as spacious as La Luna Negra, but definitely a place that wants to put on a party for any and all games you want to see.
Would I bring a date there? Not early on. I can see it getting really loud and sports-bray, despite the elegant look it maintains.
PARKING: Yeah, no struggles here unless you’re in Pasadena on a Friday or Saturday Night. Consult our Pasadena Parking Guide, and you’ll be fine. Rocco’s is close to both the DeLacey and Schoolhouse Parking Structures. In fact, it sits right in between them.
Rocco’s Tavern (Pasadena)
44 West Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91105
Tel: (626) 765-6810
Monday-Friday: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 3:00 – 7:00 pm