Rossi’s Bar & Grill, 2110 Whitehorse Mercerville Rd., Hamilton, N.J.
A decade ago, football writer and noted food authority Mark Eckel tipped us off to Rossi’s, an iconic hole-in-the wall then located in Trenton. We were amazed by their fantastic hamburgers, which actually captured my first burger contest. And we were amused by Rossi’s many tributes to its most-famous old-time customer, Joe DiMaggio.
The classic bar and grill has since relocated to a less-gritty neighborhood in Hamilton Township. The DiMaggio tributes survived the move. So, too, have the great burgers, I’m delighted to say. So when we got a tip that their meatballs were also up to snuff, we drove 50 miles on a rainy afternoon to try them.
Alas, the much-touted meatball sandwich is not the stuff of legends.
The “Meatball Sliders,” for $7.49, brings you three classic meatballs topped with shaved Asiago cheese and marinara on slider buns. It’s a fine deal, and a bellyful.
What it isn’t? It’s neither interesting nor tasty. The meatballs lacked flavor. The whole sandwich didn’t have a lot of character. There was nothing offensive about this production. On the other hand, there just wasn’t anything fun or memorable about it. Where’s the spices? The bottom-line word would be bland.
I’ve forked my way through the Mid-Atlantic states and socked away some remarkable meatballs over the past two months. I fully expected Rossi’s to make a great showing based on past history. But it was not to be. Go there for the atmosphere, for the friendly service and especially for the burgers. But perhaps not the meatballs.
Score – 63/100