Let’s play a quick word association game, shall we? Here goes: There’s a bar by the name of Rocco’s Pub and Grub. You hear that moniker and you think… beer? Definitely beer. There’s probably a bottle of house wine ready for the occasional girlfriend or wife.
Not so fast. Rocco’s name is a complete red herring, and I get the sense that they like it that way.
The Smithfield venue does serve beer, but it serves the good stuff. The really good stuff, in fact – miles away from, say, whatever your spendthrift uncle brought to barbecues in a leaky plastic cooler. Even more surprising is that cocktails are their mainstay, and seasonally attuned, tasteful cocktails at that. “We change our menu every season,” bartender Alysa Cambra told us. That said, they need to be pragmatic given a high volume of thirsty patrons. She winces at the memory of mojitos this past summer, for instance, which were delicious but too involved. All that muddling, otherwise known as the universal bane of a bartender’s existence.
For the winter menu they kept things smart and streamlined. When we asked for a current entry to share with readers, Alysa gave us a three-ingredient vodka martini that’s greater than the sum of its parts. On the perennial shaken versus stirred debate, she was unapologetically Team Shaken. “Especially for this one,” she said. “It makes things really cold and crisp, which feels right for right now.”
Rocco’s Pub and Grub
55 Douglas Pike, Smithfield