Last night, I went with my wife and in-laws to Rosa Mexicano for a lovely dining experience…
I’m sure there are a few “decent” Mexican style restaurants in Bergen County, New Jersey. However, they are very hard to find. In fact, if you know about any places that serve authentic Mexican cuisine, please comment on this post so I can broaden my horizons…
Most Mexican restaurants serve these items: Tacos, Fajitas, Burritos, Enchiladas, etc. In short, the food is typically decent, yet perfunctory overall. Furthermore, it bugs me tremendously when I go to a costly restaurant that contains basic food that I can prepare better in my own kitchen. I admit that I am quite picky due to my numerous years in food service and my constant need for newer and better stimulation. However, times are tough and I don’t want to waste my bread on cheap experiences, or food that is prepared without any love. After watching all of the cooking shows, especially Top Chef Masters, I’ve discovered a brand new world of exquisite greatness… By the way, Rick Bayless was the winner of Top Chef Masters. He has taken Mexican cuisine to an entirely new level of splendor. I was thinking about that last night as I licked the Mole sauce off the plate. domain technical data If I had missed a spot of that scrumptious sauce, someone should have slapped me upside the head numerous times.
I went to Rosa Mexicano in River Edge, New Jersey. This is also a hotspot for trendy, yet delicious places: PF Changs, The Cheesecake Factory, Maggianos, et al. We were seated immediately in a somewhat crowded venue. The decor (which I normally could care less about) was hip and trendy; the atmosphere was vibrant, but not obnoxious. I knew in an instant that this dining experience was going to be interesting. It must be true that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression… The server (is waiter PC anymore?) was a middle-aged smooth operator who really loved his job. He spent time going over the menu options in a rather meticulous fashion. What I especially liked is the fact that he wasn’t pressuring us to buy Alcohol. I do drink various wines and the occasional beer (with steak), but I keep my eye on the ball: THE FOOD! Some places treat you like peasants in an impoverished country if you don’t order Alcohol, and the service usually suffers because it’s all about “the tip.” Again, I ask, “where is the love?” I’m not trying to be a hypocrite because I also worked for tips in the past. However, I’ve always enjoyed so many aspects of food, and the money was secondary. In fact, the focus of money over the food quality caused me to change jobs several times. That is another story for a future blog… Let’s just focus on Rosa Mexicano. Shall we?
My wife will eat spicy foods, but she does not eat red meat. I’ll eat almost anything, except for animals that still appear to be alive on the plate–E.G. Cuy in Peru. My in-laws eat bland food. Hence, taking them out for Mexican food is quite risky; they obviously won’t eat Indian or Thai food due to the intense spice factor. In short, I really appreciated the time that the server spent trying to assess our food needs. He did, however, try to push the Guacamole Cart on us: A cart with several mortar and pestals, fresh Avocados, Tomatoes, Onions, and Cilantro (a must for many Mexican dishes). I was willing to spend the $12.00, but only 2 of us would eat, and I just couldn’t justify parting with the cash. If all 4 of us would have eaten the Guac., then I would not have even blinked. I was not offended at all because it is the server’s job to sell and “upsell” food. If you don’t ask, you don’t get–no offense taken here. When I return to eat here the next time, I’ll dive headfirst into the freshly prepared Guacamole.
My wife ordered the Chicken with one type of Mole Sauce; my father-in-law ordered the Salmon in another dark sauce; my mother-in-law ordered a plain chicken, rice & beans platter (the server suggested a roasted tomato sauce–good move); I ordered the Rack of Lamb, Asparagus, and Pumpkin/Corn/Black Bean Tamale. Originally, my dish is served with some type of Pistachio Mole Sauce (I never heard of that). However, I was really hot for an authentic Mole Sauce, and the smooth operator insisted that I get their best Chocolate Mole Sauce instead. Meanwhile, I was thinking about the 26 ingredients that were incorporated into Rick Bayless’s version, which took him 20+ years to master. It probably was not going to be as good, but what the hell–let’s just go for it!
We munched on some Tortilla Chips and 2 sauces: another smoky, brown Mole variation dip and a spicy green Tomatillo Salsa. Interestingly, this place does not serve a typical Salsa, something I really look forward to and sometimes use as a judging standard. However, the server brought us some fresh Pico De Gallo, and it was delicious. The food came out a few minutes later. The presentations were lovely and I was practically drooling on myself when I looked at all of the dishes, especially mine. Everyone was happy with their dishes and I described them earlier… I did taste my wife’s other Mole Sauce, and it was tasty; my Mole Sauce was better. Naturally, this comes from an unbiased opinion and no ego whatsoever…
I’ll do my best to create some visual imagery regarding my dish. First, look at my Lamb and Figs dish from the picture gallery:
The Lamb sits atop of a luscious, brown sauce. That should give you a basic idea to continue with the description of the restaurant’s dish… Two Lamb Chops were resting on top of the killer Mole Sauce; 2 inch pieces of Asparagus were on the left in a lattice fashion, and the corn husk wrapped Tamale was sitting at 12 O’clock. The lamb was perfectly cooked at medium, the asparagus was fresh and slightly al dente, and the Tamale was the most original one that I’ve ever had. Who puts pumpkin in a Tamale? I would love for someone to send me a real Tamale on the corn husk recipe… Meanwhile, I’m practically vibrating in my chair like a jackhammer with every single bite. I loved all of it. I do wish, however, that I had more Lamb on my plate for $25.00. Next time, I’ll try the chicken because I’m bound to get more meat… Nevertheless, it was “YUMMO!” Someone send Rachael Ray my regards.
All of us shared an incredible dessert: A Brownie with a hazelnut filling, more chocolate, Creme Fraiche, and Espresso. I should have gotten 2 of them. Believe me, it was worth the 8 bucks (spending 16 bucks might have been a blow to my ego, but a transitory one).
In a nutshell, I’m going back! Rosa Mexicano receives:
I’ll even provide a free, shameless plug for them:
I don’t have any signature sign off, and currently working on one as we blog. As for now, ROCK ON AT ROSA MEXICANO!
Carl–can we get some outro music on this page?