What do you get when you mix cooking traditions of both the Italian and French? The best of both worlds at ROÌA Restaurant in New Haven. It’s a culinary combo that doesn’t require you to renew your passport.
Located in the former Taft Hotel that dates back to 1912, ROÌA Restaurant and Cafe has historical charm. Step inside and you’ll see what we mean with its two-floor open design with ornate ceilings and impressive columns. The building is truly an architect’s dream. But you don’t have to be a designer to appreciate all that ROÌA has to offer. You just have to be hungry.
The restaurant is named after a river that runs between Italy and France and it’s cuisine stays true to its origins. With a mix of both Italian and French fare, the menu offers a unique selection that is rotated on a monthly basis.
Right now, you’ll find fresh salads with locally-sourced produce and homemade duck prosciutto. All stellar options, but we say start your meal off with the tender grilled octopus served in a black garlic butter. It practically melts in your mouth and the fingerling potatoes are fried just right for the perfect crispy bite.
And since the venue has Italian roots, you can expect all of the pasta to be homemade, including the thin spaghetti, which we tried and loved. The dish was a special for the evening, doused in a rich butter sauce and topped with large pieces of lump crab meat that was so addicting, it was hard to put the fork down.
As for the entrees, there’s a hearty selection featuring the classic French dish steak frites made of grass-fed beef, alongside fish-of-the-day served with local veggies, or the pan seared duck breast. We opted for the pan seared duck breast, and we were glad we did. The meat was extra juicy and the garlic pesto complemented the flavor nicely.
At the end of our meal, we couldn't resist digging our spoon in the Belgian chocolate custard, which was thick, smooth, and extra chocolatey. But we didn’t stop there. We weren't leaving without trying the homemade gelato. And that evening, the gelato was chocolate hazelnut, which was extra creamy and immensely satisfying.
ROÌA also takes dietary restrictions into consideration by offering a vegetarian option - lentil crackers made with caramelized onion, carrot puree, and mint - and serving gluten-free bread. Because those who can’t eat wheat shouldn’t feel left out when everyone else is loading up on carbs at the table.
So here’s the gist: whether you’re craving French, Italian, or a little bit of both, ROÌA Restaurant will not disappoint. Bon appetit! Or should we say, buon appetito? It doesn’t matter. It’s delicious no matter how you say it.
261 College Street; New Haven
[Photography courtesy of Roia]