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Rolo’s, a new restaurant, cafe and grocery shop, opens in Ridgewood

Rolo's restaurant, cafe and grocery store opens in Ridgewood. (Photo by Adam Friedlander)

Rolo’s, a new restaurant, cafe and grocery shop, is open for business in Ridgewood.

The new eatery, located at 853 Onderdonk Ave., opened on Wednesday, Jan. 13. The owners, chef trio Howard Kalachnikoff, Rafiq Salim and Paul Wetzel — alums of the popular Gramercy Tavern — decided to focus on cooking with simple, seasonal ingredients.

When asked why they chose Ridgewood for Rolo’s, Kalachnikoff told QNS that two of the three owners live and are raising their families in the neighborhood.

“We love its extremely welcoming sense of community, which is exactly the vibe we’re looking to create at Rolo’s — cozy, welcoming and homey,” said Kalachnikoff, who was most recently the chef de cuisine at Gramercy Tavern.

Even their name has a connection to the neighborhood.

“Our designer and contractor, Kermit Westergaard, is a longtime Ridgewood resident,” said Kalachnikoff. “His dog, Rolo, is a neighborhood favorite — so we decided to make Rolo our namesake!”

Rolo’s is open for takeout and delivery with a rotating pre-set weekly dinner menu, alongside a la carte options for lunch and dinner. Operation hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

The delivery and takeout menu features a la carte dinner including wood-fired half chicken served with garlic confit in chili oil and cucumber kohlrabi; grilled meatballs with a spicy tomato sauce; grilled greens with garlic confit and lemons; and braised butter beans with salsa verde. They also offer lunch sandwiches with their house-made ciabatta bread for options such as their smoked turkey sandwich (made with turkey smoked in-house), as well as vegetarian options like their Health Sandwich.

Rolo’s turkey sandwich. (Photo by Bex Finch)

For dessert, they’ll have a rotating selection of mini pies and freshly baked cookies.

They also have a $17 per person pre-set weekly dinner package that will typically feature items like grilled porchetta, sofrito fried rice and kale caesar salad.

Rolo’s weekly dinner special. (Photo by Bex Finch)

Rolo’s plans to open for indoor and outdoor dining with an expanded menu later this year.

They have an extensive beverage program that includes to-go cocktails, liquor, wine and beer, all curated by their beverage director Ben Howell. Howell will also oversee all front-of-house operations.

His batched cocktails, for instance, are riffs on classics and are available in small and large serving sizes, including the apple cardamom Old-Fashioned with Laird’s Applejack brandy, cardamom, herbsaint and angostura bitters, and the spicy mezcal punch with chili-infused mezcal, silver tequila, dry orange curaçao and cranberry-hibiscus shrub.

Their cafe and grocery shop offers a selection of house-made baked goods, sandwiches and grab-and-go salads, as well as fresh pastas, sauces, condiments, dips, meats butchered in-house and locally sourced produce, among other items.

Photo by Adam Friedlander
Photo by Adam Friedlander

They are also making and packaging their own ice cream, with flavors like mint stracciatella, malted chocolate cookie dough, grapefruit sherbet and caramelized banana. Delivery and takeout options are also available.

Rolo’s ice cream. (Photo by Bex Finch)

The 2,400-square-foot space was designed in collaboration with the owners and Kermit Westergaard. Guests will enter through the front bar room in the daytime hours, with floor-to-ceiling windows that create a bright atmosphere.

When the restaurant can open for indoor dining, the cafe will transform into a bar with banquette and table seating. The main dining room toward the back of the space is anchored with a large wood-burning stove and a cook’s kitchen. They will also have a private dining room with a separate entrance that will be able to accommodate up to 24 people when restrictions are lifted.

Photo by Adam Friedlander

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rolo’s adopted a vigorous safety approach, including an air filtration and purification system by Scientific Fire (the same system is used at the United Nations and the Mayo Clinic) as well as regular staff wellness checks, contact tracing, and strict hand washing protocols.

For more information about the restaurant’s hours and online orders, visit www.rolosnyc.com.

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