My wife and I were in the mood to head out for dinner this past Saturday and wanted to try something new. As you might expect, that list of options is limited at this point so we decided to warm up and procrastinate our meal by swinging over to Swan Dive for a drink. The Rochester Cocktail Revival was in full swing and that means almost every participating bar becomes a gathering place for people in and around the industry and this was no different. I was happy to see some friendly faces in Sarah Brown (Honeoye Falls Distilling) and Seth Eschelman (Staach) but even happier when Sarah revealed that a new restaurant had just opened their doors that I hadn’t heard about yet.
Rella is a new venture from Mark Cupolo and Chef Cruz Jesus Nieves and is located at the corner of Monroe and Marshall right down the street from his stalwart restaurant Rocco. Rella embraces its flat iron shaped space with intimate and limited seating at an angular dining bar overseeing the open kitchen. I love the idea of having so few seats and appreciated the compact menu mostly focused around fresh seafood and small plates.
Tuna crudo was served on a glass fish shaped plate with pistachios and well balanced acidity. A pair of rock shrimp and crab sliders showcased the tender texture of just barely cooked shrimp with crunchy cucumber and celery in the best possible way.
A seasonal asparagus salad was expertly assembled with shaved raw asparagus mixed with lightly bitter greens contrasted with roasted spears all integrated with a comforting creamy dressing. The sliced duck breast salad with cherries and well toasted pecans felt like a staple and Mark’s Sicilian style foccacia pizza slab with anchovy is a must try carry over from Rocco if you like intense flavors.
Rella was a great find on a Saturday where we were looking for some culinary novelty and I was glad to be one of the first to eat at Mark’s new establishment. Rocco is a cornerstone of the Rochester dining scene and I’m excited to see what Rella has in store for us. Follow Rella on Instagram at @rella181 to keep an eye on openings or just swing on over to see if the door is open!