That’s amore!

That’s amore!

Roost Modern Italian always delivers

By Brian P. Sharp

Photo: Grilled swordfish at Roost Modern Italian

It’s true – even the best of restaurants have days where things just aren’t right. However, Roost seems to be spot on every time. 

That might be part of the reason for a major expansion and remodel which should begin in the next few days. Roost is making a major investment into the Oregon District landscape. The picture of the end result hangs in the entrance of the restaurant. If you have been to Roost, you know the bar area is small and intimate; the dining room is the same. The expansion will begin in the back of the restaurant, behind the kitchen, and remodel/repurpose from back to front – hitting everywhere in between. The bar is going to triple in size. They are adding a dough room, enclosing the patio and expanding dining space.

I went into Roost this week with some friends for dinner. Now, don’t be one of those people that worry about where to park downtown or in the Oregon District, because there is a free valet! Reservations are encouraged since the restaurant fills up fast. We were greeted by a host who quickly escorted us to our table. This was no ordinary host – he filled glasses, cleared tables, checked on guests and made sure everyone was satisfied. 

Our server told us about the specials for the evening and took drink orders. Kelli ordered a peach Bellini and Kathy, a nice red wine. The Bellini was served with a small scoop of peach sorbet and – since I swiped a taste – was just as delicious as it looked. 

Salads and soups were ordered. Kelli ordered the seasonal soup, which was a cream of celery. It was light and full of flavor, garnished beautifully and left you wanting more. Kathy and I both ordered salads. Kathy had the beet rocket salad: a mix of arugula sitting atop pickled beets dressed with creamy gorgonzola dressing and topped with pistachio brittle. I chose the iceberg carpaccio – an iceberg steak topped with parmesan buttermilk dressing, sliced tomato, applewood bacon and accompanied by garlic chips. This salad can also be served with fresh avocado. 

There are many other appetizer, salad and soup options. A favorite appetizer is the risotto fritter which comes crusted in ciabatta, filled with mozzarella and pepperoni and served with marinara. You can also order parmesan fries with a trio of sauces including dill pickle ketchup – delicious! Appetizers, soups and salads range in price from $4 to $11.

Our entrées were served. Kelli ordered spaghetti that can be served with beef and pork meatballs – but she opted for a meat-free version. The spaghetti is served in a bowl that makes it look like art. It is tossed in marinara and topped with freshly-grated parmesan and torn basil. Kathy had a butter-poached filet – it is served with horseradish aioli, Boursin mashed potatoes, asparagus and a few frizzled leeks. The presentation is simply fantastic. 

I chose grilled swordfish, which normally is served with herb mashed potatoes (I chose grilled asparagus – which was not a problem), Brussels sprout chips, applewood bacon and a few pecan chips on a lemon aioli. 

The other entrée options are so interesting it is truly hard to choose. They vary from things like a lasagna verde which includes spinach pasta, mushrooms, spinach, chard leeks and zucchini, to things like lamb chops which are served with a sherry demi glace with vegetables and herbed mashed potatoes. There is also grilled veal, scallops and even shrimp and grits Italian style – which is made with polenta – served with house made chorizo, swiss chard, peppers and onions. The entrée choices range in price from $12 to $32. 

Then, after dinner, when you really don’t have room for more, you are tempted with dessert options. Trust me – you don’t want to miss them. Even if you’re full, order some to share at the table. There are options like spumoni with a ganache coating, triple chocolate cake and even Tre Cannolis with shaved dark and white chocolate. We chose some other options. Kelli opted for the crème brulee of the day, which was a salted rim margarita crème brulee. Kathy and I both chose sorbet options. Now, don’t be fooled – this isn’t every day sorbet. No, this is hollowed out frozen fruit that is then filled with sorbet – served like a piece of art. More importantly, delicious! Kathy chose lemon and I opted for peach, which was nearly life changing. I wondered if I could just sit there and wait for that fruit to defrost, just so I could eat that, too. Dessert options range in price from $5 to $9 and are not worth missing! 

So, what’s the final word? Well, there are a number of options on Fifth Street in the Oregon District, but this one is simply the best. Certainly, this is one of Dayton’s finest restaurants. If you haven’t been, you are missing out.

Roost Modern Italian is located at 524 E. Fifth St. For more information, please call 937.222.3100 or visit roostdayton.com.

Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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