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Authentic old school Italian food……in a comfortable setting

Enjoying a taste of Southern Italian-style cuisine, traditional pub style food, burgers, pizzas and more at Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, Mass.

Article by Eric Hurwitz in collaboration with Carlo Gaita. Photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 5/26/2019.

Rosetta's Italian Restaurant, Canton, Massachusetts
Rosetta's in Canton.

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(CANTON, MASS.) -- Rosetta's Italian Restaurant is located in the heart of historical Canton center, and specializes in preparing, from scratch, homemade Southern Italian dishes and traditional American favorites.

Rosetta's opened a little more than four years ago and quickly became a local favorite.  Owner Carlo Gaita grew up in nearby Hyde Park and Norwood, and after retiring from the United States Marine Corps with 20-plus years of service decided to open up an Italian restaurant. During his time in the Corps, he traveled extensively and served as a drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C., trained officer candidates at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., jumped out of planes and helicopters, did a tour with the State Department, and deployed for two tours in Iraq. So, what to do after a military career?

"I didn't want to go into a boring job," said Carlo. "I wanted to do something different. Yes, I know they say 'You don't own a business, a business owns you,'  but I wanted to try something outside my comfort zone and to continue to challenge myself. It was a risk, but also a calculated risk. I am retired and as my brother likes to remind me, 'I had nothing to do, and all day to do it.' It's a lot of work, but it is also a labor of love."

Carlo Gaita, owner of Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, MA
Carlo Gaita, owner of Rosetta's (pictured right), enjoys a moment at his restaurant with friend and retired Marine Master Sgt. Jonathan Brown (pictured left).

He named the restaurant after his mother, Rosetta, not only to win parental brownie points but also to add authenticity to a place that serves homemade Italian food.

"It was easier, cheaper and less work to open and name a restaurant after my mother than it was to have given her a granddaughter that she would have much more preferred," he joked.

Mamma Rosetta helps out at the restaurant by bringing genuine Southern Italian-inspired recipes to customers looking for the real deal.

"I am fortunate to have great parents," said Carlo. "My mom and dad (Guido) live nearby and are very much involved in the restaurant. My mom makes the meatballs and my parents make homemade pasta."

Having family in the restaurant business lends inspiration and culinary DNA. His brother, Tony Gaita, owns Anthony's Cafe on the Waterfront in Boston. A cousin, Jerry Gaita, owns Primavera in Millis, Mass, and another cousin, Matthew Tropeano owns the Spoon and Seed in Hyannis, Mass (Cape Cod).

"They say Italians either make pizza, cut hair or pour cement," said Carlo, jokingly. "Guess which one I did?"

There's a nice anecdote about Carlo's mom that reveals a lot about the restaurant's theme and authenticity. Rosetta grew up in Avelino, Italy and learned from her Nona and mother how to prepare homemade Italian meals from recipes passed down through the generations. Rosetta brought these recipes to Boston and, in turn, passed those along with her passion for cooking, to her kids.

Chicken parm from Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, Mass.
Chicken parmigiana from Rosetta's Italian Restaurant.

Like many other Italian restaurants, Rosetta's encourages customers to enjoy a little taste of Italy. While pizza, parm, pasta primavera and piccata can be found at Rosetta's, Carlo is also wise enough to know that people like variety. He doesn't stick to just Italian food. Rosetta's is a good place to also grab a fresh salad, burger, steak tips, a sirloin steak, fish and chips, a fried or baked seafood platter, wings, baked cod, grilled salmon, or a Surf and Turf featuring steak and shrimp.

Surf and Turf from Rosetta's Italian Restaurant, Canton, MA
Surf and Turf from Rosetta's.

"I wouldn't say we are exclusively an Italian restaurant," said Carlo. "Call it Italian-American. We want to give our guests as many choices as possible and to include children with our 'Bambini Menu.'

This is clearly evident in the new spring menu Rosetta's recently launched that is comprised of more than 20 different Italian entrees, fresh seafood dishes, steaks and burgers, Italian grilled paninis, and 15-plus signature pizzas.

Part of menu at Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, MA.

Menu at Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, Mass.

Rosetta's in Canton, Mass., offers more than Italian food

Rosetta's also offers gluten free pizza and pasta and the majority of the entrees can be easily modified to also be prepared that way, as well as dairy free (or to meet any other dietary restriction). This same vast selection approach at Rosetta's is taken with its wine list that contains over 30 different wines, 12 beers (to include local IPAs) on tap and another 10 in bottles and a full liquor bar that features over 20 specialty martinis, drinks, and cocktails.

"We want to deliver a complete dining experience," said Carlo. "This includes preparing made-to-order food, using only the highest quality and freshest products available and providing impeccable service in a comfortable atmosphere at a modest price. We realize our guests work hard for their money and have many choices when they go out to dine. We are thankful they choose Rosetta's. Subsequently, we remind and challenge ourselves that we are only as good as our last meal. We, as a team, have to earn it every day. We relish this challenge and will always strive to earn our guests' continued trust and business….every meal and every day."

Rosetta's also features a thriving catering business that is popular, locally, for graduations, kids birthday parties and various other ceremonies and events -- and also offers a function room that can accommodate 20 to 90 guests.

What It Feels Like To Be At Rosetta's

Table at Rosetta's in Canton, Mass.
Cozy dining table at Rosetta's.

Walking toward Rosetta's Italian Restaurant immediately suggests a nice downtown family-style restaurant that looks like one of those must-try local places. It's located in a house-like structure with a history that's more than 100-years-old and has served as an inn, apartments and various restaurants. Right away, you can sense the pride of ownership with a large Marine Corps flag waving at the side of the exterior.

U.S. Marine Corps flag waves in front of Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, Mass.
Marine Corps flag waves in front of Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton.

Signs point to the bar entrance on Washington St. and to the dining room, take-out and function room area at a door on the side of the restaurant. Before entering the side door, the irresistible dining patio suggests a pleasant spot to dine during the warmer weather.

Outdoor patio at Rosetta's Italian restaurant in Canton, Mass.
Patio area at Rosetta's.

In the main dining room, a pleasing white and green color scheme, white linen tablecloths, goblet glassware, wall sconces, leather booths, padded chairs and black and white pictures of Italian scenes create an intimate but informal ambiance. Background music adds further Italian restaurant personality in the form of opera, classics (Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Vale) and traditional upbeat instrumentals. The aroma of freshly baked bread emits from the kitchen. All this helps create a scene that provides the ideal old school Italian restaurant setting for a nice meal and a glass of wine.

Main dining room at Rosetta's in Canton, Mass.
Main dining room at Rosetta's Italian Restaurant.

The bar area has that classic hometown look with a handsome bar area, televisions with the local games on, high-top tables and more comfortable booths with plenty of local conversations going on while the drinks flow.

Bar area at Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, Mass.
Bar at Rosetta's Italian Restaurant.

Pictures of the local Boston teams, the Three Stooges, Ted Williams, maps of Boston and other conversation starter signs line the bar walls. Various Marine Corps memorabilia Carlo has accumulated -- and that his fellow Marine friends have contributed -- are displayed on those walls, also.

The Marines Hymn at Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, Mass.
The Marines Hymn.

Carlo calmly walks virtually every square inch of the restaurant greeting customers with a welcoming friendliness -- as if they were family. He works the kitchen, seats people, takes care of transactions at the register area and basically makes sure that every little thing is in place. He is kind but firm to his professional and hard-working staff. They seem to like him and vice versa. It is apparent that he has brought his military background to the restaurant without, of course, the demanding, relentless rigors of basic training. Having never been in the restaurant business prior to Rosetta's, it is also clear that he has exhibited personal courage to march forth in an industry where most fail within the first few years. Like the words of many military commanders, "Failure is not an option" for Carlo.

"In the military, you typically move every two to three years, things are fluid, and the mission and people may change, so you need to be flexible, and have the ability to adapt and overcome" said Carlo. "Here, it is a long-term thing. There have been challenges along the way, but experience is the greatest teacher. Success in everything is preparation. I am fortunate in that I have a great team here that does all the heavy lifting behind the scenes. Without them, Rosetta's simply would not be possible. One of my commanders told me, the three things you need to be successful in any endeavor are; number one, surround yourself with great people, and I forgot what the other two things were!"

Giving The People What They Want

Rosetta's knows its Italian food, but also realizes that the culinary trail of pasta, pizza, and other Southern Italian-style specialty dishes should also extend to other types of popular dishes. Sometimes all people want is a good home-cooked traditional comfort foods meal. Rosetta's is just as good for a burger or a salmon dinner as it is for Italian food.

Rosetta's offers several dishes that customers look forward to on a regular basis. The Pappardelle Bolognese features slow-cooked beef, pork and lamb tossed in a homemade Pappardelle pasta and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Pappardelle Bolognese from Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, Mass.

The cheese pizza comes from a brick oven and favors a more dominant cheese taste over the tomato sauce and flavorful seasonings. Magnificent!

Cheese pizza from Rosetta's in Canton, MA.

The turkey tips arrive in abundance and served with fries and fresh vegetables.

Turkey tips from Rosetta's in Canton, Mass.

The chicken and eggplant parm combo with penne pasta has that North of of Boston Italian restaurant quality -- every bit as good.

Chicken eggpant parm from Rosetta's in Canton, MAss.

To go along with the homemade basket of bread and dipping oil served with meals, the fresh salad with grilled chicken on the side starts things off quite well at Rosetta's.

Fresh salad and grilled chicken from Rosetta's in Canton, Massachusetts.

Fish and chips is a staple of pubs and seafood restaurants, but Rosetta's also serves this local favorite.

Fish and chips from Rosetta's in Canton, Mass.

If there's any room after the meal, try one of the desserts. The most popular is the homemade tiramisu, often paired with an espresso or cappuccino. (photo source: Rosetta's web site).

Homemade dessert from Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, MA.


Rosetta's Italian Restaurant, Canton, Massachusetts
Outside at Rosetta's.

Carlo did it his way when opening Rosetta's Italian Restaurant and the locals seem to love it. Rosetta's also would be a wise choice for those visiting the Boston area, dropping a child off at one of the many local colleges, or traveling to and from Cape Cod. Rosetta's takes reservations and call aheads, and they are recommended for groups of four or more.

Although Rosetta's has only been in business four short years, they do get lots of travelers, to include repeat visitors. The weekend before the Boston Marathon (in April on the Monday of Patriots Day Weekend) attracts a handful of runners, staying in one of the local hotels, that stop in to carb up. Rosetta's is geographically located about halfway between Fenway Park in Boston and Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place in Foxborough, Mass., so it's not uncommon to see some visiting fans traveling to the games and dining at Rosetta's while staying in one of the local hotels.

Canton and the surrounding towns also have several local breweries (Castle Island, Blue Hills Brewery, Trillium, Sam Adams). Many groups of people tend to end up at Rosetta's after a day in one of the local taprooms. The Blue Hills State Park (which has miles of hiking trails, an observatory, a petting zoo, and skiing during the winter) is conveniently located less than four miles away and typically brings a large contingency of people after time spent hiking or skiing.

That is the key takeaway to the success of Rosetta's -- accommodating everyone and feeling a sense of belonging with Italian and comfort food that hit the taste buds just right.

Thank you, Carlo, for serving in the Marine Corps and thank you, also, for serving us locals at Rosetta's Italian Restaurant!

Rosetta's Italian Restaurant is located at 521 Washington St. in Canton, MA. Tel. 781-821-2300. Web site: Facebook fan page:

Also near Canton: If it's the weekend and you're looking to do a little antiques and shabby chic shopping, head on over to Winsmith Mill Market in Norwood, Mass. Hundreds of vendors on a 27-acre former tannery site!

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Carlo Gaita, owner of Rosetta's Italian Restaurant in Canton, MA. named his restaurant after his mom who has some wonderful homemade Italian recipes offered on the menu.

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