With white wainscoting, pale celadon walls and soft background music, Rose Tzanetos' eponymous breakfast and lunch cafe has charm to spare. But you can't eat charm. What's needed to make this adorable little storefront a culinary destination is a chef with skill and imagination. And Roberto Baez is just such a chef.
Baez was head chef at Wild Honey in Oyster Bay before launching Rollin' Cubans, a now retired food truck.
Jump-start your morning with his hot chilaquiles, combining habanero-flecked tortillas, tomatillo salsa, cheese, avocado, salsa, cilantro and scrambled eggs with steak, chicken or pork. It's a kaleidoscope of color, flavor and texture. His Bubba biscuits are warm and flaky, topped with creamy sausage gravy and served with eggs, roasted tomatoes and irresistible house-made maple-pork sausage patties. A killer dish is Voodoo berry pancakes -- tender, fluffy lemon poppy flapjacks with a mixed-berry compote and vanilla-scented whipped cream. (Purists: Get the toppings on the side and apply judiciously). Forgo, however, the dense, dry Belgian waffle.
The meltingly good Cuban Reuben sandwich brings together slow-roasted pork shoulder with fried pickles, melted Swiss, Dijon and Cuban garlic sauce on grill-pressed buttered rye. Winning, as well is the grilled marinated skirt steak sandwich with horseradish pepper cream on grilled brioche roll. And the more refined crustless Alaskan tea sandwiches featuring house cured salmon and lemon pepper aioli.
The chef turns out a bodacious burger. The blackened picante version, crusty, juicy and smoky, is topped with pickled cherry peppers, avocado, queso blanco and a honey-chipotle sauce. Difficult, though, for the human mouth to handle without resorting to knife and fork. Served in a little bag on the side are hand-cut fries with the clean, toasty flavor of good potatoes. Finish with a crumb-topped baked apple and tell your conscience it's just fruit.
Open only a couple of months, Morning Rose Cafe already is drawing crowds. There's no room to wait for a table but Tzanetos is happy to take your name and phone number, and text you with the good news that a table is ready.