Rotelli Pizza and Pasta in West Delray Beach offers satisfying Italian-American options

Rotelli exterior.

Tucked into a Jog Road shopping center near Home Depot, a one-time corporate eatery has the aura of a mom-and-pop Italian/American restaurant, but an inconsistent kitchen.


As we sat dining outside Rotelli Pizza and Pasta in Delray Beach, a woman at the next table gushed enthusiastically about the red-sauce Italian eatery to her dining companion.

“I love this place. I order from here twice a week,” she said. Moments later she told a server she also was a patron of the Rotelli restaurant in downtown Delray. Truth be told, the downtown eatery was converted into the Mussel Beach seafood restaurant in 2014.

But Rotelli, created as a neighborhood Italian restaurant chain in 1999 by airline pilot-turned-entrepreneur Joseph Bilotti, continues on today in West Delray next to Home Depot as an independent restaurant eight years after its opening. At least, that’s what we were told by its affable co-owner, Benjaafar (Ben) Khalid, who had worked with Bilotti since the chain’s beginning.

Oddly, none of the dishes on the menu actually features rotelli — the wheel shaped pasta Rotelli Pizza & Pasta is named for. But there are plenty of pasta dishes on the menu as well as pizza and most of the Italian-American standbys found in mom-and-pop eateries throughout the region.

Anxious to give it a try, we were spurred on recently after snagging a Groupon deal.

I was pleasantly surprised on our first visit. Done up inside in bright yellow and red brick with black booths (alas with banquettes of different height) and tables and a small open kitchen, the Delray Rotelli seems very much a mom-and-pop effort.

10-inch Margherita pizza.

With pizza in its name, I had to try at the very least a personal Margherita pie ($13.99). It was delivered with a nice firm crust, a garnish of fresh basil chiffonade and tasted of fresh-crushed tomato. So far, so good.

Entrees are served with a choice of soup or salad, and pasta.  On our first visit I ordered a bowl of pasta fagioli soup, which was russet-hued, dense and rich and a tad smokey. Mushroom-barley soup, ordered on a subsequent visit, was thick with kernels of barley, but needed to be kicked up with both salt and pepper.

Garlic rolls, served gratis, were nicely golden, dripping with garlic and butter and had just enough firmness to the bite on a first visit but on our second visit they seemed underdone, though that might please some diners.

Pasta fagioli.

Mushroom barley soup.

Golden garlic rolls.

On our first visit, I tried my Italian restaurant benchmark, veal parmigiana, blanketed by slices of melted mozzarella, and, oddly, ricotta, and served alongside penne in a tangy red sauce. The meat, sliced thickly, was nonetheless tender.

Eggplant parmigiana ($17.99), my entrée on our second visit, consisted of lightly egg-battered slices of the purple fruit covered with cheese. Part of it was perfectly cooked and some undercooked. It was accompanied by spaghetti bathed in a bland sauce that might have originated in a jar.

Chicken francese

Veal Parmigiana.

Eggplant parmigiana.

Chicken francese ($18.99), my wife’s go to dish, was satisfactory and arrived ungarnished at her request. She found the accompanying spaghetti too al dente to her taste.

A slice of strawberry cheese cake ($7.99), supposedly New York style, lacked the density one might expect in a slice of Junior’s famous cheesecake, but it made for a sweet finish.

Service was friendly and efficient on both of our visits,

Chain or not, Rotelli in Delray Beach can be either satisfying or a tad disappointing, depending on your visit.  Such inconsistencies might give one pause given all the other Italian dining options in the area.

Rotelli Pizza & Pasta

15064 Jog R., Delray Beach, FL 33446


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