Jason Neroni's new Rose Cafe in Venice is a place to come for homemade baked goods and fresh coffee in the morning, prepared salads and sandwiches in the afternoon, and heartier wood-fired dishes from the hearth in the evening.
I used to be a frequent patron of The Rose Cafe in Venice. They were open for breakfast and lunch and had a big covered outdoor patio that made it a perfect meeting spot for afternoon get togethers or Sunday brunch. I would often peruse their ever-changing salad counter and get the 3 salads for $10 deal and take it to-go. Then it closed. And I was sad.
Then it got a makeover and a new chef, Jason Neroni. Happiness, potentially. A lot of the neighborhood was upset to see the former staff let-go, but many were supposedly offered new positions with the reopening. Jason Neroni is also the mastermind of the original Superba just down the street, and the newer Catch and Release in the Marina that's currently being retooled to an Italian restaurant. He's no doubt a talented chef, but the question was, is he going to fancify what was once a nice, casual, neighborhood spot.
I swung by one morning just after it opened to check out the breakfast crowd, and there was a line outside and many laptops already lined up screen to screen. The hipsters have already found the Rose Cafe, not surprisingly. The space is beautiful and is now much more open with counters and kitchens maintaining the nucleus of the place and lots of seating surrounding it.
There are multiple outdoor patios with the main one opening soon. It's a bit of a free-for-all right now where you grab a menu and find your own seat. That will change soon with hostesses that will show you to a table that you can reserve for dinner.
There's a bakery counter with breads and sweets, and you can still order 1 to 3 salads to go or to enjoy while working, but expect to pay several dollars more than before.
You can do a pizza and salad combo or you can order one of the bigger mains for lunch like pasta, fish or chicken. It's not quite as casual of a menu as it once was, but there are still a selection of sandwiches and salads during the afternoon.
Dinner is continuing to evolve. Right now The Rose is serving a small menu at night from the "hearth." The hearth is their wood fired oven that you can most likely see from your seat given the openness of the kitchen. Pizzas carryover from lunch, but there are also additions like oven roasted short ribs with tamarind glaze and hefty topping of herbed chermoula on top.
Octopus is listed under the "Small Bites" menu, but it's actually a decent size with a chipotle cashew salsa and marinated chickpeas.
Crispy brussels sprouts are served in a dashi broth with a poached egg to burst and spread across.
Neroni's red wine glaze and parmesan fried chicken is finger licking good with a nice kick from pickled fresno chilies.
Cocktails are up to snuff with drinks like the Algonquin with rye whiskey, pineapple shrub, caramelized pineapple and dry vermouth. The Rose All Day is definitely a drink that you could sip sitting outside the Rose for hours. It's Rose wine, ginger, Moscatel Pisco, lime, grapefruit and orange bitters.
Even while the Rose Cafe works out the kinks with seating and menus, it's already drawn a crowd who likes the space and the energy. The menu is varied and most dishes are priced under $20 right now. I can only imagine the crowds will build as they continue to evolve.
Rose Cafe Venice
220 Rose Avenue, Venice