Rock ‘N’ Eggplant Rollatini at John’s in the East Village


Eggplant rollatini with a side of well-sauced spaghetti is No. 29 of our 100 Days/100 Dishes

Sophisticated diners have long reviled the food at the old “red and dead” (as Seymour Britchky famously called them) Italian dives still sprinkled around the culinary landscape of the five boroughs.

Sure, the expensive half of the menus are pretty bad — mainly featuring veal cutlets, white cheese, and prosciutto interleaved in rather revolting ways. But if you look at the bottom half of the menus, you’ll find all sorts of great Italian-American inventions, and eggplant rollatini is one of the greatest: eggplant fried either with crumbs or without, rolled around snow-white ricotta cheese, smothered in tomato sauce, then mantled in mozzarella.

At old-timer John’s (sometimes called John’s of 12th Street) in the East Village, this wonderful vegetarian entrée is sided with spaghettti and tomato sauce, and it’s hard to think of a more delicious dinner. And the back room — with its guttering mega-candle — is a great secret date spot, away from prying hipster eyes.

302 East 12th Street

100 Days/100 Dishes is an almost-random alphabetical collection of delicious dishes from around the five boroughs. See the entire series so far.

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