Tuesday, March 2, 2010

LaRosa's: Italian Sandwiches, Catering & Cupcakes

Sometimes you find delicious foods in the oddest of places. For example, I never would have expected to find such excellent, home-made cupcakes in an Italian sandwich shop.

When I conducted my Saké tasting at the Wine Connextion, the event was catered by LaRosa's, a relatively new restaurant in Andover. I was impressed with their food, especially the spicy Arancini. Larosa's took over the spot where Mawby's used to be, and I knew that I would have to check it out.

I did make a recent visit there, and chatted with part-owner Mike Cammarata and part-owner/Chef Paul LaRosa. They told me more about their restaurant, as well as some of their future intentions. The restaurant is very much a friendly, neighborhood restaurant. At lunch, nearly everyone that stopped by seemed to know the owners. Both Mike and Paul seemed very sincere to me, desirous of creating a great little place. Rather than accepting what they have, they still are working on ways to improve the restaurant.

This casual restaurant opened in October 2009 and you can see the main counter pictured above. They primarily serve sandwiches, salads and soups, either to eat there or take-out. You will also find daily specials that may include pizza and calzones. Sandwiches average $6.95-$7.95, soups are $2.95/cup & $4.95/bowl, and salads average $7.95. Most everything is made fresh on the premises.

There are over twenty sandwiches, ranging from tuna salad to Portobello, from eggplant parmigiano to buffalo chicken. They are generally served on braided rolls, though you can have a whole wheat wrap instead. The chicken parmigiana was very good, with plenty of chicken and a tasty red sauce. The special chicken and broccoli pizza was also quite delicious, with very large pieces of chicken and a nice, thicker crust.

Above, you can see some of the salads and similar dishes that you can order. Everything looks quite fresh and tasty. LaRosa's also sells prepared meals that you can take home and heat up. It makes it easy to stop by after work and pick up a prepared dinner. You can get items like chicken marsala, baked ziti, meatballs or chicken piccata. Meals generally cost $9.99-$10.99, and should easy feed at least two people. I bought the meatballs and they were quite good, with plenty of ground beef and seasoned well.

Chef LaRosa seems very capable of much more culinary diversity, and that can be experienced through his catering services. Their catering menu includes many more items than are available at the restaurant, and he can also make many items that are not on the catering menu. His catering service is thus very flexible and Chef LaRosa will work with you to develop almost any type of menu you desire. Listening to Chef LaRosa speak, his passion was evident and he was very excited discussing all of the different types of cuisines he enjoys cooking. As the restaurant matures, I suspect the menu may increase, allowing Chef LaRosa to showcase more of his skills.

Chef LaRosa makes most of his own pastries, some of which are pictured above, including a variety of different flavored cupcakes. The jumbo cupcakes ($4 each) are made fresh each day, and look quite enticing. They look as good as any found in the specialty cupcake shops. But what about their taste? Can such a sandwich shop really make good cupcakes?

I had some initial doubts, thinking that they might be too dry. Even many specialty cupcake shops seem to make too dry of a product. I can be a harsh critic concerning cucpakes. But instead, the LaRosa cupcakes were fantastic, moist and flavorful. The chocolate cupcake, topped with a white chocolate frosting, thoroughly impressed me. It was one of the best cupcakes I have tasted in some time. I bought some to take home and some of my family were similarly impressed. Though they cost $4, their large size and high quality warrants the price. I believe the rest of their pastries are probably equally as good.

Overall, the restaurant offers very good food at very reasonable prices. Chef LaRosa is very talented, and his culinary passion is reflected in his food. Grab a sandwich for lunch or a prepared meal to take home for dinner. Or partake of their catering services and see even more of Chef LaRosa's culinary skills. Plus, the cupcakes are highly recommended! I'll be back for sure and may report here again of what I taste.

LaRosa's
7 Barnard Street
Andover, MA 01810
Phone: (978) 475-1777

LaRosa's on Urbanspoon

19 comments:

MichellePC said...

I work right in Andover and haven't heard of this place yet! But if the cupcakes and Italian food are as good as you say they are, I'm there - on my lunch break today.

Richard Auffrey said...

I hope you enjoy! Please come back and tell me what you thought about their food.

Sam said...

Out of this world! Great photos and great blog too. Loved reading thru some of your posts and lots of great content. Wish I weren't so far away, but at least I can follow you here. Love, Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

Anonymous said...

The best!

Anonymous said...

This place is incredible! It really is a hidden jewel in Downtown Andover! The food is terrific and service exceptional!

kousalya said...

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Carol Clement said...

Its been a long time since I ordered catering equipment supplies for my catering business. I am busy with my new career but I always make a time to cook for my family. I like to take home prepared meals from restaurants so that I can discover different kinds of unique dishes. Chef LaRosa seems like a nice restaurant because of its culinary diversity. I am interested to try their jumbo cakes because my children love eating cupcakes as well as my husband.

Joe Dodd said...

Those salad recipes taste delicious! I and my friends will definitely try this resto one of these days!

Gabrielle Heales said...

The last time I had those sweets was in my sister's wedding, when she had catering services from long island. Best one I've ever had! I hope one day they'll collaborate with Chef LaRosa for my wedding!

Phoebe Isaacson said...

Hi, thanks for sharing! I'm suddenly craving for Chef LaRosa's pastries! I believe they taste better with a glass of high quality wine on your hand. This time, I just wanna try high quality pastry too! Can't wait to taste this!

Alexandra Stanley said...

The chocolate cupcake is tempting! But just by looking at it, I am sure that it will hurt my teeth. A little is enough for me and I hope that ample amount would not make my tooth ache.

Maddison Hebblethwaite said...

You'll really fall in love with LaRosa's sweet treats! After I tasted one of the cupcakes for the first time, I've always planned on visiting the place, but I never had a chance to. I requested a bunch of cupcakes from my favorite caterers, and my friends said they're as good as LaRosa's, but still, I want to try this! Thanks!

Brooke Owen said...

What catches my attention first when visiting a resto is the place itself then the food comes after. The pendant ceiling lights caught my attention in this place, it made the place more inviting and made the room a good place to eat and enjoy the meal; I just hope I could find something like this and put it in my kitchen area!

Chris Edmund said...

Looks like I'd enjoy the food they serve there. Plus, the place doesn't look like an intimidating high-class restaurant; the interiors look like your typical corner diner, and that would make it easier for me to eat there.

Melissa Richards said...

We’ve already tried this resto and if you’re a person that loves sandwiches this is the perfect place for you! They will surely guarantee you good food and of course good place; talking about their place, it’s very convenient for eating for they have designed their place very well.

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