Out of the Big City for Family Italian

by Kristi Maier

| @triadfoodies

There is no shortage of wonderful Italian restaurants across the Triad. For this area, I think we do just fine in the Italian cuisine department. And just beyond the border of Forsyth County sits a mom and pop Italian restaurant that has a rich history steeped in deliciousness. Kitchen Roselli is located on Main Street in East Bend. You may have passed it on your way along the NC Wine Trail. Ten years ago, David and Laura Roselli purchased a dilapidated historic building that just so happened to be the former office of one of North Carolina’s first women dentists. The Roselli’s come from a near-famous and much loved family of Italian restauranteurs and purveyors. Year’s ago, David’s grandparents owned the very popular Sunny Italy Restaurant in Wilkes County.

It remained open until 2009. I remember going there as a little girl and it was amazing. Famous for the pasta and pizza but also the Sunny Italy Dressing. Check your church lady cookbooks and you might find a version of the dressing in there.

What David and Laura Roselli did in 2006 was open a restaurant that tried to stay true to John and Daisy Roselli’s legacy, with homey, handed down Italian recipes at a reasonable price. Of course, the ever famous Sunny Italy Dressing is there and sometimes (sometimes) customers look forward to that salad with that dressing as much as the delicious main course.

David is in the kitchen also dreaming up new dishes using local ingredients and most of the dishes have a story behind them. Laura Roselli says, “As a kid in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen, you learn that compromise is a dirty word. Stick to the purest ingredients, the critical and disciplined process and never scrimp. It’s a tradition that’s instilled in us when it comes to preparing a dinner for you in our restaurant or a meal in our home. But we are creative and to make use of the products that surround us today, we take liberty in creating new dishes or even adjusting traditional recipes. We know if it’s delicious, our grandmothers would approve.”

But first, we need to get something out of the way. Because you’re going to have to do this one thing when you sit down and you are greeted by your server. You must order Laura’s Cream Puff for dessert. I mean it. Just order it first thing. Because if you wait until after your meal, there may be none left and you’ll only have yourself to blame because I told you to do it (plus the Roselli’s highly recommend this action). Laura’s Cream Puff is such a simple dessert. A vanilla custard filled puff pastry covered with dark chocolate ganache. It is righteous. You don’t have to eat it right then. Save it for dessert, obviously. Laura just wants to know you need one. Need. And if you eat it first, heck I’m not judging. It might even be preferable, just so you’ll be sure to have room for it!

And there’s another dish Kitchen Roselli is famous for. It’s Lorenzo’s Gnocchi with Garden Basil Marinara. It is hand made gnocchi that has the pillowy-est, lightest most lovely texture. Just lightly sitting on that marinara so that you can dip and cover those little babies just as you deem fit. They are about the size of a silver dollar and must be 3/4 inch thick. Amazing.

I can’t bring myself to order anything else and I know I’ve been there 3-4 times. Another winner is Pa’s Veal Cutlet Parmesan with sautéed and breaded top round veal cutlets that have been pounded tender and covered with their red sauce and flash-baked. This dish comes with a pasta side. Other can’t miss items are Mamma’s Lasagna (while it lasts), Spaghetti with (David’s award winning) Meatballs and any number of weekly specials that you might find. It’s hard to decide but someone should always get a gnocchi and let everyone else get what they want and you can try to share as best you can. It isn’t easy. All of the pasta dishes and entrees come with the Sunny Italy salad or a house antipasto, which is also pretty darn great. Usually, we get a main entree for the kids so we can eat their antipasto— hint hint.

The restaurant is quaint and cozy, with cloths adorning the tables, china on the shelves and memorabilia and photographs on the walls. Lights are also draped across the windows and inside to give it just enough light to make it comfy and serene. Laura says the business is truly about la famiglia. “Bringing both our family recipes —Roselli and Ciafardini families—to the table over these years is amazing and we’re incredibly thankful to our hungry customers.” Their sons, Carlo (19) and Lorenzo (17) work in the kitchen with their father. “It still blows my mind to see my family produce our menu each night. Actually our whole staff is a family affair with most being with us for many years.”

The Roselli’s highly recommend reservations. We were there at opening on Friday evening (6:00 p.m.) and there was a gathering already at the door. They all must have had reservations and after a concerned glance down the list, Laura was able to seat us at one of two available tables at that moment (whew).

You can order the Sunny Italy Dressing to take home or you can find it refrigerated in several stores in the Triad including, Lowe’s Foods, The Fresh Market, ChefsMart, Whole Foods and it’s the official dressing of the Winston-Salem Dash.

The dressing is super delish on a crispy salad with a nice tangy cheese. Or you can use it as a marinade or dip.

As the Roselli’s celebrate their 10th year, we’re told that they’re thinking of some fun ways to celebrate. Laura says they are planning a month-long dinner party of their favorites from the last ten years along with family related events. You’ll have to stay tuned for more details. But what better way to get in touch than to take the short 20-minute drive from Winston-Salem into the wine country to enjoy Italian with their family. !


Kitchen Roselli is located at 105 E. Main Street, East Bend, NC. Open for dinner Thursday-Friday 6-9 and Saturday 5:30-9. Reservations are strongly recommended.