The first thing you need to know about Rosalia's Italian restaurant is that there's a Rosalia's Hotline, which you can call to hear a recorded message about daily specials, soups and salads. The number is (410) 561-2219. Is that a techno-hip restaurant or what?
Of course, when we got there, the pasta special turned out to be penne with pesto and artichoke hearts instead of the promised penne with broccoli, prosciutto and cream. But I love it anyway.
Rosalia's doesn't look like a techno-hip restaurant. Still, it has a lot more pizazz than your usual inexpensive strip mall storefront Italian-American eatery. The look is California, with an open kitchen; freshly painted white walls; deep green trim; green and white tiles; flower- covered tablecloths under glass; and bright, flowery art posters. This time of year, unfortunately, the dining area gets a blast of cold air every time the front door opens -- a real drawback. Customers fight for the booths in back.
While Rosalia's has the carry-out and the sandwiches you'd expect given the location, the kitchen is much more ambitious than those suggest. The food is prettily placed on large white plates decorated with a confetti of minced parsley. It's good, and it's inexpensive.
Roasted garlic in warm olive oil was arranged with grilled zucchini, yellow squash slices, grilled red pepper, a zippy tapenade and slices of good baguette. A cream of tomato soup in a large, flat white bowl edged with chopped parsley looked seasonally festive and had a deep, rich flavor.
That special of penne with a nicely balanced pesto, artichoke hearts and grilled red pepper strips was delicious, but unfortunately it (and the soup) had to be sent back for reheating. If you'd like something a little more traditional, try the chicken and eggplant Parmesan with cappelini and a good homemade tomato sauce -- not so heavy a version as usual.
Entrees, which are all priced under $10 except for one (chicken Marsala), come with an excellent house salad tossed with a Parmesan pepper dressing and garlic bread. What a bargain.
Desserts are the traditional tiramisus and cannoli and rum cakes. We tried the last two. The rum cake looked prettier but the cannoli had more flavor.
There's a good cook in the kitchen at Rosalia's -- I'd like to have this restaurant in my neighborhood for those times when I don't feel like cooking.
Don't expect a variety of dishes. The entrees are limited to a few pastas, some chicken and a sweet Italian sausage dinner. But what's there is nicely done. (Bring your own beer or wine, by the way. Rosalia's doesn't have a liquor license.)
Where: 1711 York Road
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Credit cards accepted: D, MC, V
Features: casual Italian
Non-smoking section? Yes
Call: (410) 561-2174
Prices: Appetizers, $2.50-$5.25; entrees, $7.95-$12.95