Sadly, Rocco’s has closed
Chef Roberto “Rocco” Ferlinc grew up in Sicily and moved to the United States 16 years ago. With him he brought a wealth of knowledge about Italian cuisine and a passion to share his love of cooking. Over the years Rocco has opened a number of restaurants, each time cooking up Italian food with a love nurtured through years of training and experience. A few years ago he opened Rocco’s Italian Restaurant on the beach in Navarre, located in the Florida panhandle. That restaurant has been, and continues to be, wildly successful. When his son was stationed at Mayport he decided to open Rocco’s Italian in Atlantic Beach so that he could be close to his grandkids and share his passion for Italian cuisine with the folks in Jacksonville. Last week we stopped in to give Rocco’s a try.
The waitress brought over some garlic knots to start things off. These things were amazing. Having eaten garlic knots all over Jacksonville, I’ve seen my share of awful garlic knots, good ones, and everything in between. These are the best I’ve had in Jax. I kid you not!
For an appetizer we tried the stuffed mushrooms ($8.95) – crabmeat stuffed mushrooms and chopped spinach in a white wine cream sauce. The sauce was rich, creamy and downright decadent. It won’t be good for your arteries but it’s sure to please your taste buds.
The first entrée we tried was the Tour of Naples. This dish is comprised of lasagna, fettucine alfredo, and chicken parmesan. I never ever order lasagna in Jacksonville Italian restaurants anymore because so frequently it’s frozen. How hard is it to make lasagna fresh for your customers? Rocco’s makes theirs fresh and never freezes it. Theirs gets our seal of approval. The fettucine alfredo was fine for the affordable price point at Rocco’s. The chicken parmesan we would probably skip in the future and opt for something else.
The absolute star of the show at Rocco’s is the pizza. The dough is made fresh in house by Rocco himself with love and care. The pizza is cooked in a beautiful wood fire oven. The oven is actually the reason Rocco chose their location attached to the Days Inn on Atlantic Boulevard in Neptune Beach. When he walked into the kitchen and saw the wood fire oven, he decided his restaurant needed to be in this location because this oven would make such a huge difference in the quality of the pizza. He obviously was right about that oven because we’ve fallen in love with the pizza; so much so we added them to our list of the best locally owned spots for gameday eats. The dough tastes fresh, the New York style thin crust pizza has a nice snap to it, and the overall taste will stack up with most any restaurant in town.
For dessert we tried the tiramisu and the mascarpone limoncello cake. The tiramisu was passable, but I wouldn’t order it again. The limoncello cake was killer. We were stuffed at this point in the meal but we couldn’t stop eating it. The joy of taking the last bite might just have been worth the overstuffed feeling afterward.
If you’re looking for pizza you’ll love at the beach, Rocco’s is definitely the spot to go too. If you dig beautiful garlic knots freshly baked in house then Rocco’s is also your desitation. Want huge portions of Italian fare at a great price? Then Rocco’s is also a good choice. We’ll be back again soon.
Note: Rocco’s offers a 15% discount for active military, police, and fireman.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.