By Rick Riozza

And like a firestorm, we are all taken by surprise by the new and great changes going on at Roc’s Firehouse Grille in Palm Desert, on Cook Street and Gerald Ford.

Of course Roc’s not only maintains itself as the  great comfort food “firehouse” venue where deli sandwiches, salads, and burgers meet sport’s bar appetizers, but they’ve really kicked it up a few rungs with the new chef in town—just  in from Las Vegas where he was the inventive chef at the Bellagio Hotel, Executive Chef Alex.

The new complete menu consists of Roc’s tried & true favorites, recent creative food fare, and—I  know you’ve been waiting for this news: A new wine list! where some wonderful wines meet up with Chef Alex’s delicious cuisine.  Please go to www.roc’ to check out the menu, wine list & cocktails.

   Beverage guru and consultant, Daniel Thomas, who I joined in hosting and entertaining at Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino’s wine tasting events awhile back—has put together the perfect wine list to accompany the variety of Chef Alex’s dishes.

Daniel has affectionately titled his beverage ensemble list as the HYDRANT:  They offer wholesome pours of sparkling wine bubblies such as the $7 Kenwood Brut; white wine glasses of the $8 La Crema Chardonnay and Benziger Sauvignon Blanc; or, enjoy a glass of red $7 La Merika Pinot Noir, $10 First Press Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford in Napa Valley, or the tasty $9 Catena Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.

Wines by the Bottle include the delicious  Cakebread Napa Valley Chardonnay and the Italian Schiopetto Pinot Grigio, and, for red, Emeritus Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley, Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel from Dry Creek, and, the world famous Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  All these bottles are listed $50 or under—you’ll not find these prices at any restaurant in town!

So Chef Alex, Daniel, myself and my foodie-writer son, Paolo, gathered around the bar to enjoy some dishes from the menu.  The chef made it clear that his kitchen also butchers and prepares the sirloin that he serves.  The Specialty Half-Pound Burger, EL Patron, is topped with ROC’s spicy/sweet bacon, crumbled blue cheese, along with onion, lettuce and tomato, all within a grilled brioche bun.  Paired with the Catena Malbec, I could figuratively eat this burger everytime I come in.

And I’m no turkey burger fan but when Chef Alex placed the Ground Turkey “Assistant Chief” Burger (also cradled in a grilled brioche bun) and “dared” me to try it!  Well—I’m a believer!  Truly, this was the juiciest and most flavorful one I’ve ever had.  A glass of La Crema Chardonnay—please.



Paolo was all over the Carne Chimi Churri—tender morsels of Choice New York Steak with the Chef’s creamy chimi churri sauce.  And he’d always be game to sit at the bar to watch football while enjoying  the Mac-N-Cheese plate of four browned cheeses topped with bits and pieces of sweet/spicy bacon.  Paolo always loves the pig and pinot (La Merika) but he’d never turn down the Union Jack Indian Pale Ale.

We also enjoyed the Herb Crusted Grilled Scottish Salmon Salad atop fresh mixed baby greens.  Chef’s  got the connection for fresh fish daily.  Having more than sampled all the dishes, we were really impressed with the grilled salmon alongside the Kenwood Brut.

I’ve reported on many creative cocktails made by Daniel around town;  go to Daniel’s website,  for all your beverage concerns. Here at Roc’s, he’s got over 40 innovative fresh & classic cocktails  to enjoy.  Under the “Hair Of The Dog” category,  there’s the “Scotch in The Morning” which is described as a coffee on steroids: Blended Scotch, Irish Cream, Kalua, and espresso.  It’s a tasty brew.

He’s got CHOCOLATE = WOMEN, which speaks for itself; a lot of delicious chocolate liqueurs into some scrumptious libations.  Everyone’s happy here.

It’s only Roc and Roll—but we like it!  Daniel’s got One Bourbon, One Scotch, & One Beer garnished with a lime wheel.  And of course there’s Lime in the Coconut featuring Whaler’s Coconut Rum & lime juice!  Yum . . .

Besides all the good eats and drinks, there’s a lot of good fun going on, 3-6pm Happy Hour & Food Specials, the 9:30 Sunday Morning Breakfast & Football, and Monday Football Night with “THE MIX” 100.5 FM, and Saturday Night “Live” music.

Roc, the owner, says, “Come on by the Firehouse. Look around, you’ll see many rare and interesting ‘Firetiques’. The majority of the items are authentic and utilized as far back as the 1800’s. Displaying the true Brotherhood of Firefighters, many of the expensive and rare items were generously donated for display by fellow firefighters.”  Here’s to heros!

Roc’s Firehouse Grille 36891 Cook Street #10 Palm Desert, CA 92211 (760) 340-3222

Hey! There’s a rumor that one of your favorite wine columnists may be conducting some fun evening wine tastings there—so stay tuned.


Rick is the valley’s “sommelier-about-town” hosting and entertaining at private and business wine events and tastings. Contact him at winespectrum@aol.comurs: Monday-Friday 11am-2am • Saturday-Sunday 9am-2am Phone: (760) 340-3

Hours: Monday-Friday 11am-2am • Saturday-Sunday 9am-2am Phone: (760) 340-322

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