Rockwell Republic in Grand Rapids - Grand Rapids Restaurants

Rockwell & Republic Fake-Out

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Photo by Dana Blinder

Rockwell and Republic has always seemed a little swanky to me. Part of it may be the atmosphere, but the menu is also to blame. This is no drippy chicken wing and ugly nacho kind of establishment, my friends.

I was pleasantly surprised the first time me, my boyfriend and my boyfriend-sized appetite tried their dinner menu. Moroccan chicken, filet mignon, risotto—swanky grub, no? I ended up with their delish Otto’s Chicken, but my boyfriend’s meal is the one we’ve been talking about for months on end.

His sweet potato and ricotta mezzaluna was so savory, hearty, and comforting I could have drifted off to a peaceful sleep using one of those soft sort-of-raviolis as my pillow. What, you don’t think of food that way? Right, just me then.

An order comes with three mezzaluna raviolis—homemade at that. They’re stuffed with a soft and sweet potato and ricotta puree, cooked up, then tossed in a divine combination of crispy pancetta, more roasted sweet potato chunks and a little pool of brown butter.

The mezzaluna on their own are great, they’re like a thin southern version of potato stuffed pierogies. The crispy pancetta lends a nice smokey flavor and crunch, and the brown butter acts like a supporting sauce to the whole dish. I was so in love with his plate—serious love at first bite.

The thing is, while this meal sounds swanky, but it doesn’t have to be. The major happy-taste-bud players were simple: roasted sweet potato, pancetta, and brown butter. Easy enough. In my fake-out version, I opted to keep the element of pasta, and even the idea of cheese. By going half store-bought and half-homemade, my version comes together pretty easily.

Want to impress someone with your seasonal cooking skills? Serve this up, stat. Want to feel swanky while hanging out at home in your yoga pants watching a marathon of Bravo shows? Pour yourself a glass of wine, honey, this is the meal for you.

Photo by Dana Blinder
Photo by Dana Blinder

Tortellini with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pancetta
(makes 2-3 servings)

Store-bought cheese tortellini or ravioli (eyeball the amount based on your hunger)
Half a sweet potato
4 slices of pancetta
1-2 tablespoons butter
salt, pepper and sage to taste

1. Cut the sweet potato into ¼ inch chunks. Toss them on a cookie sheet with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they’re fork tender.
2. Cook the tortellini or ravioli according to directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
3. Dice the pancetta. In a medium sized pan, cook it over medium heat until it’s crispy. Move pancetta to a paper towel lined plate.
4. In the same pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Lower the heat to medium/low, whisk frequently and cook until golden brown, should be 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the pancetta, roasted sweet potatoes and cooked pasta into the brown butter pan. Combine and cook together for about a minute until everything is well coated with butter.
6. Add a little salt, pepper, sage and serve.

Notes: I couldn’t find pancetta at my local grocery store, so I bought Canadian bacon instead. I couldn’t get it as crispy as the original version, next time I’ll hunt for pancetta or opt for bacon bits instead. I also might try cutting the sweet potato a little larger so it’s easier to spear everything on your fork for one magnificent bite.

 –Dana Blinder, Contributing Writer

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  1. LOVE your pillow ravioli description… EXACTLY how I would describe food if I had your delightful writing skills. Loved your post!

    1. Oh heck, thank you Jill. I’d say it’s less about delightful writing skills and more about loving tasty food. Thanks for reading!

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