It's a sad, sad week for Greenwich Village. Rocco Restaurant, open since 1922 (almost 90 years!) on Thompson Street, has closed due to rising rents. And by rising rents, I mean an absurd price jump that should be illegal. $8,000 a month to $18,000 a month. This place has always given me the old-New York fuzzies, thinking of decades gone by and restaurants closed, and happy that Rocco always made it. Until now. Mario Batali worked in the kitchen for 5 months and left in a dramatic huff. I just finished reading Bill Buford's "Heat," and Batali's time at Rocco is briefly mentioned. Funny that his extremely successful restaurant, Lupa, is now across the street.
It's being taken over by the team that runs Torrisi Italian Specialties, which has been a well-deserved hot spot for months now. So the food will be better than Rocco's was. But it doesn't matter.
I ate dinner there one last time three days before it closed, and the owner said he's looking for a new place to move Rocco too. He's also taking the famous neon sign that lights up Thompson Street. Not the same at all, unfortunately.
Eater New York wrote a short and wonderful piece on Rocco in their "Who Goes There?" column here.
Johnny Depp loved Rocco.
I snapped this photo of Rocco on the last night they were open.
The famous Rocco Restaurant sign in daylight.