Better Late Than Never
The PubScout finally pays a visit to Robertos Ristorante in Ocean Isle Beach.
Almost two years to the day, when we came down to close on our OIB home, we stayed at the Ocean Isle Inn while the paperwork was being prepared. We asked the pleasant gals at check-in where they recommended we go for a good meal.
“Robertos!” was their immediate reply, and we headed directly there, just a short drive from the inn. Unfortunately, we showed up before it opened, so we went elsewhere.
And though we had passed it regularly during our perambulations over the past two years, and though we saw the parking lot pretty well packed when it was open, we never went in. We promised we would — someday.
That someday came last night, upon the recommendation of my buddy Keith, an OIB resident who, by virtue of his standing as owner of the best place in town to enjoy great beer, knows ALL the best places to eat as well. He even provides the fish for many of them, dedicated nut-job angler that he is.
Robertos has a rustic, Tuscany-like vibe as soon as you enter. Cozy, comfortable and welcoming were the three words that came immediately to mind. Off to the right is the dining area for pizza lovers, close by the pizza ovens. We’ve never had pizza from Robertos, but apparently, those in the know have made it a popular stop. After our dining experience, that’s definitely a bucket list item.
We were ushered to a comfortable, socially distant booth just off the bar, and that bar itself is supremely inviting, especially if an eternally youthful charmer named Christine is tending it. It was half-filled with customers — regulars, I supposed — when we walked in. But by the time we left, it was pretty full.
Being on self-imposed “diets,” we opted to skip the appetizers, though they sounded delicious. I ordered a Sam Adams Winter Lager (more about that later), and the missus had wine.
Our salads (Caesar and house) were amazingly fresh, and joined by some bread and seasoned olive oil (hey, a little cheating on diets is allowed), they served as a harbinger of good things to come.
For her meal, the missus ordered the Crab Cake and Grilled Shrimp. The missus (often dubbed the Crab Cake Queen) couldn’t stop raving about the large crab cake and her meal, though she asserted (quite often) that the cake was “absolutely delicious” and the “star of the show,” being “all crab” as she described it.
I was in the mood for lighter fare, so I ordered the Chicken Piccata. Perfectly done, perfectly thin, lemony chicken and angel hair pasta, the dish was perhaps the best I’ve had anywhere down here in North Carolina. Even the plentiful capers, which added just the right saltiness, seemed fresh.
And the beer I got — which I don’t usually consume with Italian food — worked perfectly. But it was decidedly NOT Sam Adams Winter Lager. Far too light, citrusy and sweetish, I suspected that something was amiss.
So, I went up to Christine and explained. Upon further examination, she concurred. So did Roberto himself, who came out to assess the situation. Now that’s a proper owner/chef, if you ask me.
I knew that Winter Lager had undergone a major change this year, according to SA’s brewer, but this was a marked change from the usual ruby brown spiced wheat bock to something that was either Porch Rocker, Cold Snap or even Summer Ale.
Clearly, someone had mislabeled the keg during either filling or shipment. As mentioned, whatever it was worked wonderfully with my Chicken Piccata, and Roberto, being the class act that he is, removed it from my tab.
Bottom line? The kitchen staff probably thought our plates had already been washed when they went back. And though it may have taken us two years to get to Roberto’s, it will assuredly not take us that long to return.
Robertos, including the friendliest of staff, earns The PubScout’s highest recommendation.
Want to go?
6737 Beach Drive SW, Ocean Isle Beach