Rosebud Italian Country House & Pizzeria in Deerfield

Many North Shore diners were disappointed when Rosebud closed their Highland Park location last year.

The atmosphere was pleasant, the food reliably good. Rumor has it that rising rents hastened its demise.

So there was some rejoicing when a new Rosebud location was announced in Deerfield. The concept a little different – more casual, add some pizza, cut the prices, do away with the white tablecloths. They opened on the site of an old Baker’s Square.

Hello, Baker’s Square

Unfortunately, the room retains that Baker’s Square feel, despite their attempts to make it more “Italian-rustic.” And the noise level, even at a slow (and I do mean s-l-o-w) lunch, was surprising. I can only imagine how loud it gets when the room is rockin’.

We shared a plate of the Eggplant Rotolo ($8), thinly sliced and roasted eggplant stuffed with a ricotta cheese filling, topped with a mainstream marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Nothing to complain about, but in the words of the immortal Randy Jackson, “Dawg, I’m not jumping out of my chair.”

The Pizza here (ours, a 13” small topped with Italian sausage and a VERY spicy giardiniera, was $12) is laden with melty mozzarella, dotted with the pleasant, fennel-scented sausage and the fiery pickled vegetables. A warning from our server might have been a good idea. The crust was sturdy, and reminded me of that bisquick-y Uno flavor; I prefer a yeastier tang to the crust. Again, decent, but nothing special.

Whitefish is a Winner

Of the entrees sampled, the Whitefish Velasco ($17) was the clear winner. The fish was fresh, and nicely soaked up the brothy sauce of white wine with roasted garlic and oregano. The crispy potatoes also bathed happily in that wash of garlic.

I was surprised by the Skirt Steak Caprese ($17), which was a very rare grilled skirt (I had ordered it medium rare) sliced and set atop a standard caprese salad, with slabs of fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and way too many slices of raw red onion. The steak was drizzled with a syrupy balsamic reduction. I had expected more of an actual salad with caprese ingredients. I left 2/3s of the steak and the server picked it up without comment.

We had high hopes for the pasta, but we must not have ordered the right ones. I hear from a reliable source that the Rigatoni alla Vodka, chock full of san Marzano tomatoes and creamy mascarpone, is delicious. Not so much the Linguini Primavera ($15), which lacked seasoning, or the special ravioli filled with bizarrely textured lobster mousse.

Desserts Win Big

Desserts, though expensive compared to the rest of the menu, fared better, with delicious house-made fresh Cannoli ($9), its crispy, blistered shell filled with sweetened ricotta and studded with chopped pistachio. All other desserts were served in Mason jars, and were different takes on standard desserts (S’Mores, Apple Pie, Key Lime Pie, etc.), including a Tiramisu ($9) that tasted more like a coffee-scented hot fudge sundae. Not that that’s a bad thing… it just ain’t tiramisu.

This strikes me as a reasonable family restaurant: no one will hear your kids if they scream, there’s something on the menu for everyone, and you won’t have to worry about interrupting the next table’s romantic tete a tete, because it isn’t that type of place.

2.5/5 stars

Rosebud Italian Country House and Pizzeria
560 Waukegan Rd.

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