Written by Marilyn Hansen with M.J. Boyer
Rosa's Place, 303 West 48th Street, west of Eighth Avenue, (212) 586-4853, is a white tablecloth restaurant with an authentic Mexico City feel. Owner Rosa Forand is proudly celebrating the 15th anniversary of her restaurant this year.
Enter into a small standup bar area with the large square dining room opening on the right. At night white votives flicker on each table. Framed theatre posters and photographs are hung decoratively on the back wall. You'll feel right at home looking at Rosa's appetizer list; it has all of your favorites and more. Take nachos -- here the preparation is on a crisp corn tortilla covered with beans, beef, cheese, onions, sour cream and jalapeno pepper slices. It's hearty and filling. Two or more in your party? Order Jerry's special appetizer: melted jack, cheddar and muenster cheeses mixed with finely chopped Mexican sausage, topped with minced green pepper, onions and tomatoes. The dish is served with a flour tortilla -- you'll probably need more than one, for dipping. Also use the complimentary tortilla chips. Want something light? Order the ceviche, scallops and shrimp marinated in lime juice and tossed with avocado.
Rosa's has the familiar combination plates: taco, enchilada, burrito and tostada. Mix and match these selections as you wish. In addition, the menu has an extensive selection of Rosa's Place specialties: five different kinds of chimichangas beginning with the chimichanga del mar, flour tortillas filled with crab, shrimp, sauteed mushrooms. The resulting plump package is crisply fried, served with rice, guacamole and sour cream. The basic chimichanga is made up of flour tortillas stuffed with grilled marinated sliced steak and chicken with cheese, fried and served with sour cream, rice and beans. Vegetarian? There's an all-vegetable chimichanga chock full of hearts of palm, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, corn , green and red peppers, onions, tomato and parsley. The whole thing is fried and served with rice and beans.
Another favorite of mine is chile rellenos-stuffed peppers, one cheese, one beef rolled in a corn batter, then deep fried and served with rice and beans-very tasty. You can add even more zest by spooning on a little of the complimentary pico de gallo table sauce. Another personal favorite are the enchiladas suizas, moist and inviting with true chicken flavor, served with sour cream, rice and beans.
Rosa's Place offers many seafood items including red snapper Vera Cruz, a dish that has become a Mexican restaurant classic. Red snapper is simmered in a flavorful mixture of fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, coriander, capers and lime juice. It is served with rice and choice of vegetable. We can't try everything, but the list goes on and on ... flautas, fajitas, chilaquiles and more.
Desserts include traditional flan, creamy and smooth with lots of amber caramel sauce. You'll be tempted by the two mousse variations: lemon with raspberry sauce and whipped cream, and chocolate made with a dash of Kahlua, also topped with whipped cream. Are you purring yet? Sopaipillas-sweet fried crullers are very typical, they are served with warm honey and cinnamon, and ice cream if you wish.
Rosa has many specialty coffees, presented hot or cold, with all kinds of liqueurs, tequila, and brandy. Mexican hot chocolate, too, foamy and spike with cinnamon.
Hours: Rosa's Place is open Monday-Friday, 12:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, 4:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. Dinner only.
Pongsri Thai Restaurant, 244 West 48th Street, (212) 582-3392, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, is an authentic source of Thai food served in a mirrored dining room with accents of Thai sculpture. Pongsri Thai in the theatre district has been open 18 years with the careful manager, Bo. Order you favorite drink from the service bar or sup fragrant Jasmine tea. There is an extensive menu of Thai specialties to tempt, many of which can be made to order from hot and spicy, very hot and spicy to extremely hot and spicy. Soups are restorative, try tomka gai: chicken broth and chicken seasoned with coconut milk, galangar- a Thai ginger-onion, lime and chiles ($3.50); tom yung goong: shrimp soup spiced with Thai herbs, mushrooms, lime, lemon grass and coriander ($3.50); gang som: Thailand's own hot and sour soup: shrimp, cabbage, baby corn, green beans, Thai herbs ($3.50).
Appetizers include satay, barbecue marinated beef or chicken on skewers with peanut sauce and cucumber salad ($7.95); two kinds of crisp, flaky spring rolls: golden triangle with chicken, potato and curry powder, deep fried and served with Thai sauce ($5.95); or Siam roll stuffed with bean thread, vegetables, deep fried and served with Thai sauce ($4.95). Also fried bean curd served with spicy tamarind peanut sauce ($4.95).
Many salads are available, including yum nyia-sliced grilled shell steak tossed with onion, green onion, cucumber, tomato hot chile, coriander and lime on lettuce ($10.95). For the lobster lover, nine presentations - all at $17.95; kang keow wan-sauteed with green beans, carrots, bamboo shoots in green curry with coconut milk, excellent. From the extensive noodle list, try rad nar-sauteed broad rice noodles topped with gravy of Chinese broccoli and bean sauce, choice of beef, chicken or pork ($7.95). Fluffy Thai Jasmine rice is served ala carte at fifty cents a serving or $1.00 for two.
Hours: Pongsri Thai is open every day from 11:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.