Columnist Dinner and a Movie

Rosa’s — Italian Goodness for 30 Years

Dinner and a Movie

By Teri Bayus

The restaurant business is not for the faint of heart, nor for those not in it for the long haul.

It is a marathon of extensive hours, grilling hospitality and the dance of dining trends. For those that succeed, we succeed with them, for there is nothing more secure than a long-term dining partner that you can trust with your special occasions, particular guests and everyday meals.

Rosa’s Restaurant Italiano in Pismo Beach has reached its 30th birthday, and it did so with the grace and elegance of a perfect Italian matriarch.

Opened in 1988 by Bill and Rosa MacMillian, this piece of Pismo history has grown into a culinary destination for many lucky guests.

At the helm now is Doug MacMillian, as Bill and Ada have gone to sit at God’s table.

Chef Doug leads with an excellent staff both in the kitchen and in the front of the house. Daily they all work together to create miracles. I am a huge fan, because this eatery has never disappointed. In fact, after 30 years, it still has a few surprises.

I take my business lunches at Rosa’s and sit on the patio. The wait staff during the day, especially Heidi, are the perfect hosts for my important guests.

I always start with Rosa’s bread. It is a classic white loaf, sliced and steaming hot from the oven when brought to your table. I slather it with “Italian butter” a concoction of EVOO, balsamic vinegar, big chunks of fresh garlic and grated Parmesan cheese.

This is a meal in itself and I have been known to pick up a loaf and take it to the beach for a sunset dinner. Then I order (I am super bossy when ordering at Rosa’s, much to the bemusement of my guests) the Prosciutto e melon that is Italian cured ham and seasonal cantaloupe melon, with a squeeze of lime. This is the quintessential dish for the start of any Italian meal.

Doug and his staff make ravioli from scratch fresh every Wednesday, so I usually get them for lunch. They come filled with meat and cheese. Because they are made the old fashion way with a special wooden dowel, they are a real treat.

Another Italian staple that is done flawlessly at Rosa’s is Caprese. This vibrant salad has fresh basil, heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic glaze, and extra virgin olive oil. It is fresh and light, an impeccable start.

I always finish lunch with a chocolate mousse. Everything here is made from scratch, but this chocolaty — with a hint of rum — pudding is Heaven on earth.

For dinner, husband Gary starts with the cannoli, a crisp, flaky tube stuffed with ricotta cheese, chocolate chips and orange. This is the only dessert that I indulge in also.

For substance, we always share a tutto mare — a seafood extravaganza of shrimp, clams, cod, calamari, and mussels served over linguini pasta, with fresh garlic, olive oil, tomato, clear broth.

My favorite dinner dish is the chicken picatta. This tart and savory dish includes a sautéed chicken breast, basted with lemon, butter, white wine, mushrooms and capers served over a linguini noodle. It has caper berries along with capers to add an authentic snap.

Gary is crazy for the eggplant parmigiana, which he won’t eat anywhere else. The eggplant is breaded and fried to perfection and served with pasta with the delectable marinara sauce.

But the most elegant dish I have had is the Lamb Shank. Using a recipe from his grandma, Chef Doug, slowly braised the shank in a Madeira wine sauce, with peppers and onions and served with Tuscan beans, pasta, and fresh stir-fried vegetables.

If you like lamb, this will blow your mind. If you don’t like lamb, this is better than any other preparation. The big finish is with Rosa’s cheesecake that Sergio makes from scratch using Italian-style mascarpone and cream cheese.

For takeout, which I often do, I order four cheese and red potato pizza with gorgonzola, fontina, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese topped with small sliced potatoes. It is an Italian delicacy.

I also order their signature pasta, called pasta California. Penne pasta is mixed with artichoke hearts, shitake mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes in a light cream sauce. It is the perfect meal to swing by and take home.  And it comes with a loaf of that yummy bread.

Rosa’s Italian Restaurant, a Central Coast dining destination for 30 years, retains its reputation with award-winning recipes. A family owned and operated establishment, Rosa’s boasts fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere.

Classical Italian dishes and highly acclaimed specialties, such as Cioppino, have won multiple awards. Executive Chef, Douglas MacMillan, is always introducing new and exciting dishes made with pure and fresh ingredients. They are located at 491 Price St., in Pismo Beach. Call them at (805) 773-055. Open for lunch Mondays-Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner daily from 4-9 p.m.


‘Happytime Murders’ Not for the Faint of Heart

“The Happytime Murders” is not for prudes or the faint of heart. And just because it boasts the beloved Muppets, it is not children’s fair.

It is offensive, potty humor that goes too far and I loved it. I was the only one laughing like a hyena in the theater, so it’s definitely a different kind of movie.

Along with the lines of X rated puppets that stared in Team America, this anti-Sesame Street, (in fact Sesame Workshop sued the team behind the film for the tagline, “No sesame. All street,” claiming that the film tarnishes their reputation.), I decided to “risk my morality” and see this movie.

Afterwards, I could not figure out what all of the negativity and silly “up in arms” whining was about!

I found the movie hilarious, and far more intelligent than many of the other reviews are portraying.

The Plot: puppets live in Los Angeles along with humans, but only as second-class residents. The hero, Pi, is a down-and-out private detective, salvaging a meager living after being booted from the police force for an unfortunate incident.

He’s a classic example of film noir dicks, complete with a dumpy office in a seedy area, and a devoted, ditzy secretary (played by Maya Rudolph). When the puppets that starred in an old sitcom called “Happytime,” start getting bumped off, his efforts to solve the crimes first lead to reluctantly reuniting with his former partner (McCarthy) whose testimony caused his dismissal 20-years earlier. Before long, he becomes the main suspect for the killing spree.

Jim Henson’s son, Brian, who has spent many years producing and directing dad’s sort of kiddie fare, directs the Happytime Murders. All that wholesomeness apparently required suppression of adult humor tendencies, which finally ruptured, resulting in this raunchy film that many will view as a breath of stinky air.

I found that the dialog was witty, with scads of great throwaway lines, some of which I missed because of my loud, frequent laughter. The mobility of the cloth-clad cast members allowed Henson to deliver some terrifically fresh and funny visuals, with slapstick and gross-out gags that will make the unsuspecting blush. Or worse.

It is not a family movie or one that I would take anyone without an irreverent sense of humor to. That being said, I will be hosting Happytime Murder dinners at my house once it is out on DVD.

Teri Bayus can be reached at: or follow her writing and ramblings at: Bayus also hosts Taste Buds, a moving picture rendition of her reviews shown on Charter Cable Ch. 10. Dinner and a Movie is a regular feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media.

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