With its dark red hues, intimate setting and unpretentious food and service, Rococo Restaurant and Fine Wine has carved a niche in the Shepherd Historic District as a neighborhood favorite.
Previously owned by a purported Italian gangster, the restaurant used to be Tony’s Italian Specialties, a well-known Oklahoma City landmark. As homage to Tony, Chef Bruce Rinehart re-invented the Italian restaurant into Rococo: East Coast fine dining with gangster flair.
After only three months of business, Rococo received much acclaim – with good reason. As a professional chef for more than 30 years, Rinehart has orchestrated 15 restaurant openings for two top-flight restaurant groups in Boston.
In fall 2003, he came to Oklahoma specifically with the intention of opening an East Coast-style restaurant.
Now in full swing, chef owned and operated Rococo has established itself in OKC in two locations with a menu featuring Italian, French and Asian influences. With more than 25 starters to choose from, Rinehart recommends the “cookies,” or savory, bite-sized appetizers: for instance, Nancy’s Cookies, smoked salmon rosettes with horseradish cream, diced red onion and capers.
Guests are reminded to pair cookies with wine from Rococo’s incredible selection.
“I’m really proud of our wine selection,” says Executive Chef Don Duncan.
“We use local purveyors to get the best wines. We listen to our guests and pick what they want.”
Keeping with their traditions, Rococo also serves pasta in house-made pomodoro, alfredo or olive oil sauces, with chicken, seafood and veggies.
But as Rinehart reminds guests, “We serve the freshest fish shipped from New England. We’re definitely more than just Italian.”
The best-selling seafood dish is, without question, the crab cake.
“We try to be humble, but we have the best damn crab cake you’ll ever have,” Rinehart says with a smile. Accompanied by a subtle Thai red chili cream sauce, the jumbo lump crab cake is a must for any newcomer to Rococo.
Last but not least, the international chop house fare is the cream of the crop. You can choose the pan-roasted or grilled ribeye steak, the roast rack of Colorado lamb or pan-roasted stuffed pork chop among a host of others.
“Our menu just goes to show that we don’t cut corners here. We do it one hundred percent, or we don’t do it all,” Duncan says.
And on Sundays, Rococo serves up an incredible brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Rococo recently opened a second location, the aptly named Rococo Northpark, in Northpark Mall in Oklahoma City. 2824 N. Pennsylvania, Oklahoma City. www.rococo-restaurant.com