When in Hammonton, visit Rocco’s Town House

Rocco's Restaurant sign outside Photo by Ralph Malachowski
Rocco's Restaurant sign outside Photo by Ralph Malachowski

Mention Hammonton, New Jersey, and what comes to mind? Maybe farms, or a town halfway between Trenton and Atlantic City. You may even recall that the area is a major grower of blueberries from social studies class. Well, times have changed. Hammonton isn’t just about blueberries anymore.

Rocco's Restaurant Photo by Ralph Malachowski
Rocco’s Restaurant Photo by Ralph Malachowski

Hammonton has undergone a renaissance of late. Once a sleepy town with little going on, it is now a destination for the smart set with a vibrant town center, excellent restaurants, hipster shops, The Eagle Theatre, and, further afield, Sharrott Winery.

On a recent Sunday, our group visited Hammonton to see the current production at the Eagle Theatre, Peter and the Starcatcher. Peter and the Starcatcher is a new production of an established New York City hit of a few years back written by Rick Elice with music by Wayne Barker. It’s a tongue-in-cheek prequel to Peter Pan, with broad humor, bad jokes, great wit, and pratfalls. Everyone should see it before it closes June 11.

After the show, we wondered, where do we eat? There are many places from which to choose, but one in our party suggested Rocco’s Town House at 21 North 3rd Street. It is an old school Italian restaurant that calls tomato sauce gravy. There are even Sunday Gravy specials. The exterior looks a lot like it belongs in Miami’s South Beach, but once inside it becomes a spacious, bright and comfortable place for couples, groups, or families to dine with ease.

Rocco's Restaurant Photo by Ralph Malachowski
Rocco’s Restaurant Photo by Ralph Malachowski

The menu, is divided into Small Plates, Salads, Sandwiches, Large Plates, and Daily Specials. Desserts are listed on a chalkboard. Menu favorites ordered by our party included two orders of Chicken Parmigian (sic) at $16.95. Two folks ordered the White Chicken and Asparagus Parm, at $17.95. A third gentleman ordered the Steak House Burger at $12.95, and a small salad at $3.95, which turned out to be a rather large salad with complex ingredients — a true value. All of the lived up to the name, with generous portions carefully prepared and all tasted delicious.

Beverage aficionados will be highly pleased by the extensive lists of drinks available at Roccoâ’s Town House. If premium whiskeys are your thing, you have an entire menu from which to choose.

Some American Whiskeys listed are Bulleit Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon and Bulleit Straight Rye Mash Whiskey, both at $7.60 a glass. From Pennsylvania comes Dad’s Hat Small Batch Port Finished Rye at $8.40 a glass. Among the many others listed are more famiar favorites such as Makers Mark and Knob Creek, both at $7.60. Under Canadian Whiskeys are Crown Royal Special Reserve at $8.80 and Crown Royal XO at $9.60. Irish Whiskeys are Jameson Black Barrel at $8.00 and Jameson 12 at $12.40. Three Scotches are listed: Glenlivet Single Malt at $8.80; Glenfiddich Single Malt at $8.80; and Macallan 12 at $10.40.

If Whiskeys aren’t to your taste, Hard Ciders (Angry Orchard and Original Sin items) are available, as are Wines, including local New Jersey wines from Tomasello, Dimatteo Vinyards, and Valenzano Winery. All red, white, and sparkling wines are reasonably priced both by the glass and by the bottle. For instance, Sutter Home Moscato is $6 per glass, and $18 per bottle. Ruffino Chianti is $8 and $24.

Rocco’s Town House truly shines with its comprehensive list of beers on draft. There are twenty-six listed. Among the several local draft beers are Kane Sneak Box from Ocean Township ($7.20) and Spellbound Peach IPA from Mt. Holly ($5.40). Familiar names Blue Moon ($5.50) and Guinness ($6.00) are here as well. There are half-priced drafts from Monday to Friday, 4-6 pm, which makes this the place to be if you like beer at a great price.

Drive out to Hammonton and enjoy the beautiful spring days ahead and the excellent food and drink at Rocco’s Town House.

Rocco’s Town House, is located at 21 N. 3rd Street, Hammonton, NJ, 609-561-9384. Roccostownhouse.com