This Take Me Out review is brought to you by Citizens Bank of Edmond.
Some of the best meals of my life have come from Rococo and that’s a fact.
The first time I had a good scallop—a really, REALLY good scallop—was sitting at the bar at Rococo’s Penn location. Same place I ate the best crab cake I’ve ever had stuffed inside a lobster tail.
One of the finest burgers of my entire burger-eating existence was at Rococo Northpark—a gorgeous piece of beef covered in, essentially, solidified French onion soup. And that’s not even getting into the Italian food or the cocktails or just the way owner Bruce Rinehart pours love out of every fiber of his being toward his customers.
No restaurant is required to stay open right now. Plenty have shut their doors temporarily and I don’t blame them a bit. It’s always been hard work, but now it’s also dangerous work. I didn’t know how Rococo was going to come down on this, but I had an inkling. Bruce loves food. He loves people. And he really, really loves his staff. Taking care of all three at once is his raison d'être.
The other thing you ought to know about Bruce (and Jason Bustamante, his co-owner at Northpark) is he’s a perfectionist. He doesn’t throw a dish out unless he’s satisfied it’s done right, which makes this whole takeout/delivery/grocery store meals all the more precarious. It’s hard to make foods that travel well and still look even half as good as they should when they get where they’re going.
When I ordered delivery for my family, I had no worries that it was going to taste great. I was not even a little prepared for how good it looked. Was it science? Sorcery? A third word beginning with “s”?
My biggest problem with ordering takeout from Rococo is that I want all of it, all the time, every time. Not getting a crab cake or his famous “Love salad” was an actual, honest-to-god hardship. It will come up in therapy and, yes, my therapist is very tired of me.
But these are hard times and I made the hard decision not to get one of everything. But I did get a lot.
I rarely get the special at restaurants because, in an ideal review, you all can order exactly what I did and enjoy it yourself. This time, I decided to get the grown-up mac and cheese with chicken ($18), because I’m stuck in a house with my kids and my parents and I needed creamy, cheesy pasta and meat. It was a necessity.
It was definitely for grown-ups, too, because they went wild with the smelly cheese. So good. So much of that tanginess I crave from exotic cheeses. The sauce wrapped in and around rigatoni and coated the chunks of tender chicken dispersed throughout. Breadcrumbs added a bit of texture, to keep it all from sliding down my throat unchewed.
It was wonderful. If you see that feature available and you like some stank on your cheese, this is the choice for you.
Rococo’s meatballs are, far and away, the best meatballs I’ve ever had. They are enormous, they are super-flavorful, and they are so tender I saw one wince when I looked at it too hard. Bruce’s meatballs ($21) with marinara over linguine is the classic you want done better than you can imagine.
Yeah, I know, ordering spaghetti and meatballs seems lame, right? It’s almost...offensive it’s so stereotypical. And meatballs, by and large, are not great. The texture’s off or the flavor’s dull. They almost never live up to expectations.
Guys, these will drop a nuke on your expectations. They’re my favorite and I was quite happy to get to share them with my kids, who have always loved spaghetti, but now can look back on the first time they had a proper meatball. The portion size is large enough that you’ll definitely get a second meal out of it, unless you’re me and you’re eating away some very complicated emotions.
The same goes for the chicken parmesan ($19), size-wise. Linguine, marinara, and two big fried chicken cutlets covered in melted cheese—it’s comfort food overload. And if you don’t need an abundance of comfort right now, who even are you?
That blend of acidic marinara clinging to bulging forkfuls of noodles, capped off by a crispy, gooey, tender chunk of piping hot chicken was the bite of my dreams.
But the big winner of the night was my dad. Reading him the Rococo menu (he’s illiterate unless it’s written by Agatha Christie or Tom Clancy), he immediately said he wanted the chicken parm...until I got to the stuffed pork chop ($29).
“Did you say pork chop? I’ll have the pork chop.”
I don’t know that I can accurately recreate the look in his eyes when he saw a double-thick chop stuffed full of pine nuts, provolone, and spinach, but I think this gif is close enough.
It came in a rich marsala gravy and it cut like butter on hot toast. I snagged a few bites (it’s what I do) and, I hope I’m spelling this correctly, but LORDT. Gorgeously seared outside and so juicy inside that it might have been illegal, that was a pork chop for the ages.
C’mon. Look at this. Vegans might not be able to eat it, but they know it’s good just from a glance.
You want to impress? Done. You want to be fed? Done. You want to luxuriate in the kind of comfort that a pandemic generally doesn’t afford? You got it. That Rococo takeout was everything I wanted and more. Literally more, because I made the second half of that chicken parm into a sandwich a couple of days later and it was still amazing.
I’ll always choose to dine at Rococo, given the opportunity, but it’s a joy to experience this kind of food at home. Try for yourself.
Thanks again to Citizens Bank of Edmond for sponsoring this review.