Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ronaldo's, North Hampton, New Hampshire, Not as good as I remember

We discovered Ronaldo's many years ago at the Hampton Seafood festival when we sampled their garlic fries and they were unbelievable. We decided to check out the restaurant and enjoyed many visits over the years. They are located in a strip mall on Lafayette Road in North Hampton and if you turn your head for a second you might drive by without blinking an eye.

Ronaldo's does make you think Italian. You hear Italian music in the background, a standing picture of Frank Sinatra and green hanging plants throughout. It is one large room with booths along the sides and tables in the middle with a small bar in the back.

Recently, we arrived on a Saturday night and were seated immediately. I should have known this trip would be memorable and not for the better. After perusing the menu for a few minutes, my wife noticed that they no longer carried meat ravioli. This might not seem like a big deal but to me it felt like someone had socked me in the stomach. I hoped this was a horrible mistake but unfortunately it was not. You see, I love meat ravioli and Ronaldo's was one of the few places that still had it, alas, the owner was not selling enough and decided to take it off the menu.

Our waitress came by with their home made bread that I have to admit was excellent. A small crusty covering outside and a fluffy inside served with garlic olive oil for dipping. To begin, I ordered up a glass of Chianti which was good and my wife had a Cosmo that was okay but not great.

We settled on the appetizer special, beef arancini that sounded wonderful. My idea of an arancini is a huge ball of rice filled with tomato sauce, peas and beef. This was different in that it had goat cheese inside but I expected the same large item. When it came out my mouth was agape, three small pieces that were all tinier than a golf ball. These were $11:00 dollars and although good were way overpriced.

You will find dishes that are typical of Italian restaurants including Chicken Parm, Shrimp Scampi and Lasagna but we are creatures of habit here and almost always get the same thing. My wife ordered chicken aragusta which is Pan-fried chicken topped with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, plum tomatoes, and lobster meat in a fresh lemon cream sauce. I ordered the Italian stuffed chicken cordon bleu which is chicken rolled with prosciutto, spinach greens, romano & mozzarella cheese. Don't get me wrong, these were good as they always have been but the portions have been reduced significantly for the same price. They were both preceded by their tortellini minestrone soup that was well made.

Our server was professional and courteous, no complaints.

I am disappointed by this experience. The food is still good but I think they have lost some of their spark. Although I would really like to recommend Ronaldo's I can not, it is not as good as I remember.

Ronaldo's on Urbanspoon


  1. Save your money…I have eaten at Ronaldo’s many times in years past and always spoken highly of them. Birthdays were a tradition, eating with the family at my favorite restaurant. Two years ago I went and had the worst cooked meal I have ever paid for, which put a huge damper on my love for Ronaldo’s. I decided to break away for a while to see if the owner would find better staff/cooks. I decided this year would be the year Ronaldo’s was going to redeem itself for my birthday dinner. I thought “how could it not have gotten better if they’re still open”. I was SO WRONG…I was seated and quickly brought what I consider a great start to a meal, the bread was delicious. While I was waiting for the waitress I was looking around the restaurant and I started to feel like this was a terrible decision. The ceiling is covered in water marks and dust. The drop lighting was filled with dead bugs and dust (right above your table). There is a border around the wall 12’ or so off the ground with misc. items such as empty wine bottles and dried plants, containing caked on dust. The vents on the ceiling look like they haven’t been cleaned since the opening of this restaurant, containing built up dust that is starting to form the shape of lint that comes out of your pants pockets. Don’t expect the bathroom to be any better, half way through my meal I used the rest room. The rest room that has mold growing on the sink, overflowing garbage (on a slow night) and a toilet that doesn’t flush….imagine that smell! Just what I needed after eating some of my dish. A dish which I can best describe as wet cat food. I ordered the Chicken Saltimbocca (at an Italian Restaurant) with their “special meat sauce” aka wet cat food. WORST meal I have ever had hands down, I slowly ate ¼ of my meal until I felt like I was going to vomit. I would bet they’re serving better food in prison. The only reason I ate any was to make my girlfriend (paying for the meal) feel like she didn’t waste her money. I considered having them replace my meal until I tried my girlfriend’s meal…It was just as bad as mine. I am outraged that she even paid the $55 our two DISGUSTING meals totaled. I will never recommend Ronaldo’s, in fact I am not going to try and take business away from them because I doubt they would care anyway judging by the way the place is run. I love Ronaldo’s “old school” atmosphere, but even when “old school” Italian restaurants operate for years, they are at least CLEAN. The owner needs to do some serious work with hiring a good cook/staff and a cleaning crew. Maybe give Robert Irvine a call from Restaurant Impossible to come and help them out. Until that happens Ronaldo’s will NEVER receive another dollar or recommendation from this guy.

    Never again,
    Kevin C.