The Viscusi family hopes their new breakfast and lunch place, Roosters NY on Hamburg Street in Rotterdam, feels like home.
With clean edges and lots of natural light, the new restaurant — which opened earlier this month — is looking to be a contemporary diner. The menu includes avocado-topped breakfast sandwiches, crispy chicken sandwiches and a rotating cast of different omelettes. Family proprietors Carlo, Glorianna and Ziggy Viscusi greet visitors at the long zinc bar or reclaimed-wood tables.
The restaurant is primarily a family affair. A family, which given a chance to build a dream meal, landed on a hodegepodge of classic Italian and American fare with a splash of paternal indecision.
Carlo, the son of Glorianna and Ziggy Viscusi, knew right away what he would want if the family had the time to plan one last meal together. Veal Milanese, the Italian dish of pan-fried veal cutlets.
“A veal cutlet, pounded and fired, chopped onions and garlic, tomato, wine vinegar, topped with arugula salad, shaved Parmesan and Balsamic,” Carlo said.
“Pizza,” Ziggy joked – maybe. Maybe a martini would be included somewhere.
“The last meal, mine, it’s got to be something spicy,” Glorianna said. And add a side of lobster mac and cheese, please.
While some of those dishes may make an appearance on what the family promises will be a changing — and increasingly fresh and local — menu, Roosters offers dressed up classic diner fare. A recent menu featured a farmer’s omelette, with fresh vegetables and a choice of cheese as well as fish and chips, mac and cheese and French onion soup.
With Roosters, Glorianna, Ziggy and Carlo Viscusi are looking to expand from construction to the food business, opening earlier this month in a former ice cream parlor the family purchased four years ago. From a quick-serve breakfast nook, visitors can stop in, pour their own coffee, grab a snack and quickly hit the road.
They offer a house blend of coffee — “rich, smooth and balanced” — and to-go muffins and bagels and breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos topped with avocados and other toppings or sauces that take the standard breakfast sandwich a step further.
“Everything that will be coming in here will be so fresh we don’t have one freezer in the whole joint,” said Carlo, who will manage the restaurant’s day-to-day operations.
As the restaurant is up and running, Carlo said he hopes to build more relationships with local producers and source as many local ingredients as he can.
The main dining room is filled with over a dozen tables made by a friend of Carlo’s from reclaimed pallet wood. The long zinc bar, over which you can watch the action on the kitchen cooktops, was also created by a family friend.
The family has worked building restaurant and fast-food chains but are looking to move into the restaurant business themselves, focusing on an area they see as in need of more food options in Rotterdam, where they have always lived.
“It’s great to serve our home community,” Glorianna said. “We want an at-home, comfortable atmosphere, to come here and have a meal.”
With the kitchen led by chef Dave Bartlett, the main menu will shift with ingredients but represents a personal take on classic American fare — burgers, sandwiches and salads. But the quality will be a step higher, Carlo promised. The fries will be hand cut, the mac and cheese will be five-cheese, meals will be made to order. Carlo ticked off a long list of potential specials that may make the regular menu lineup: blueberry-stuffed marscapone French toast, for example. In their first weekend, Roosters went through 90-dozen eggs, Bartlett said.
Carlo’s Italian style – like the veal Milanese – may also sneak onto the menu.
“That would be a special,” he said of the veal dish.
What’s the chef of a new Rotterdam breakfast and lunch spot want for his dream meal? The quintessential dream meal: steak and lobster. And some grilled aspargus and caprese salad, topped with Bartlett’s favorite ingredient — basil. Don’t forget a nice, crusty loaf of bread.
“I’m a big steak guy,” said Bartlett, who with 24 years of experience cooking in local diners like Tops in Rotterdam joined the kitchen of Roosters.
Bartlett said he would cook a filet mignon — medium rare, of course — and pair it with a steamed lobster. Nothing special needed for the seasoning, just salt and pepper, and plenty of butter for the lobster. He said he would cook the steak in the oven’s broiler or, if the weather was nice, on the grill. Bartlett, who is joined in the kitchen by Nick Sheldon, of Rotterdam, said his taste mostly aligns with Carlo, who he develops the menu alongside – albeit with a slight difference.
“His flavors are the same as mine, but he is a huge garlic guy,” Bartlett said.