Update: Due to the recent change in COVID-19 restrictions in Pennsylvania, Rosalie is temporarily closed for the season, with plans to reopen in 2021.
The first thing Sydney Grims wants people to know about Rosalie is that it’s not a “spaghetti and meatballs” kind of place.
“We create authentic Italian soul food made from the freshest, best ingredients and serve it in an upscale but completely approachable restaurant and lounge in the heart of Wayne,” says Grims, director of business development for Fearless Restaurants.
That’s a lot to unpack—as is the question of why Fearless would open yet another place in Wayne. With Autograph and White Dog Cafe already drawing plenty of loyal patrons, and White Dog Haverford nearby, a fourth Main Line location seems a bit too close for comfort. But Grims sees Rosalie—named for her paternal grandmother—as a complement to its sister restaurants. “We’re offering a different concept and cuisine,” she says.
And the former Paramour location in the Wayne Hotel is prime real estate. Wind curtains and heating have wisely been added to the sweeping front porch to extend its use into the colder months.
Rosalie’s planned March opening didn’t happen until September. Manufacturing and shipping delays were largely to blame for the delay. “About 90 percent of the restaurant was custom made, and because of COVID, furniture and materials weren’t delivered or installed on time,” says Grims.
Filled with dark woods, richly colored fabrics, abstract murals and original artwork installed by Wayne-based LAA Art Collective, the restaurant is warm, inviting and upscale. Rosalie’s lounge now occupies Wayne Hotel’s lobby. Perfect for small groupings, the space is cozy and comfortable, with live music planned. “The idea was to energize the space and provide a venue for gathering, drinks and live entertainment,” Grims says. “There’s nothing like this in Wayne.”
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Executive chef Merick Devine is the culinary mind behind Rosalie’s menu. A veteran of Frasca, the award-winning Boulder, Colo., restaurant famous for its Northern Italian cuisine, Devine is the former sous chef at White Dog Wayne. “We asked him to create a tasting of Italian food. When we tried it, we knew it would be a home run,” says Grims. “We opened Rosalie because of him.”
Devine describes the cuisine as “authentic Italian … simplistic but really well cooked. Our emphasis is on quality ingredients, excellent preparations and a shared dining experience.”
That shared experience can take some getting used to. Rosalie’s menu is divided into four columns—and four courses—of small plates. “It’s a risk to teach our customers how to order,” acknowledges Grims. “It’s not a sharing concept—it’s a small-plate concept. Our servers will guide you through the menu.”
Rosalie’s perfectly textured pasta is an obvious standout. “Every dish with dough is made in a special room,” says Devine. “Pasta, focaccia, brioche, pizza dough—everything.”
Hand-crafted highlights include the wild mushroom gnocchi with Fontal cheese, a honeynut squash ravioli, and the hearty spaghetti alla chitarra, with lamb ragu, peppers and pecorino cheese.
Among the second-course options, there’s a delicious beef short rib with flavorful root vegetable ragu and gremolata, along with a simply prepared but excellent porterhouse steak. The bronzino is served with an addictive, sweet-salty caponata. “It’s one of our most popular dishes,” Devine says of the latter. “We can’t cut enough fish to keep up with demand.”
Made with the aforementioned handcrafted dough, Rosalie’s pizzas are cooked in an authentic oven. “It has a stone floor and dome because we can’t have a wood-fired oven,” Devine says. “We’re in a hotel that’s 100-plus years old. Actual fire wasn’t a great option.”
About nine inches around, the pies are meant to be shared as a single course. Classically delicious, the traditional Margherita combines tomato, mozzarella and basil. Rosalie’s version of a pesto pizza benefits from stracciatella cheese, best known as the delicious center of burrata. Another favorite is topped with prosciutto-like speck, Fontal cheese and pears.
While all of the dishes are available for takeout, Grims hopes to see more and more people at the restaurant. “It’s a great place to gather in small groups with friends and family,” she says. “We need that right now, more than ever.”
Rosalie, 139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 977-0600, www.rosaliewayne.com.
COST: Dinner appetizers begin at $7; most entrées top out at $39.
ATMOSPHERE: Chic but comfortable, with great bar, lounge and front porch areas.
HOURS: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.
EXTRAS: Live music, vibrant lounge, weekend brunch.