Interview with Chef Rocco
- reprinted from the Waterside Blog
"We want to be the place where you grab a coffee on the way to work," says Pete Rocco, the affable, well-seasoned operator of the spanking-new Robbins Nest Cafe, "and then stop by and pick up some dinner on your way home."
Sounds like a plan, Pete, judging by what we saw--and sampled--today on our first visit. Except we're definitely gettin one of those crunch-looking corn-flakey muffins with our oh-by-the-way Starbucks coffee. . and those European flatbread hot-pressed sandwiches are going to make for an excellent afternoon snack on Saturdays. . . and maybe a salad at lunch, with some of that mozzeralla... and--mon dieu!--those crepes, both savory (spinach, artichoke and parmesan, please) or sweet (raspberry and dark chocolate! nutella and banana!)... The point is: good, freshly-made food, prepared with care and priced with respect, is back at Waterside Plaza, and we are thrilled.
Pete Rocco has been in the food business since he was a teenager scrubbing pots on Long Island. He's done the sous-chef thing, cooked the line, and is now directing things at Robbins Nest for parent-company CulinArt, those high-end caterers famous for their spreads at, among other glittery affairs, the Mt. Sinai Crystal Ball, the Literacy Partners gala at Lincoln Center, and the fabulous annual Hamptons Classic. Not that we're ever invited to such things, mind you, but still: it's nice to know there's a serious reputation at stake here, not to mention some pretty deep pockets behind the operation.
At Robbins Nest, ingredients are locally sourced whenever possible; the baked goodies are made on-site, and the gooey, right-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie we tried today confirmed that, yes, they know what they're doing back there; the hot beverage menu is all courtesy of Starbucks and Tazo; the sandwiches are filled with Boar's Head; the pizza dough on those six-inch pies is made on the spot, as are the soups du jour.... even if you took away the incredible convenience of the location, this would probably be our new go-to, pop-by spot for a quick, satisfying bite, or a perfect no-fuss meal.