Restaurants Column | Family Utilizes Backgrounds and Each Other to Open Rosalia’s

Lexington, KY – Its a common theme among independent restaurants: the genesis of the idea and passion for opening a restaurant arising from family experiences with food. Rosalia’s Old World Italian Deli, located in Stonewall Center on Clays Mill Road in the old Stanley J’s location, is a prime example.
Last year, Julie and Charlie Hamilton, their daughter Claira Rosalia Reynolds and husband Rodney Reynolds were looking for a location to open a first-rate butcher shop when they learned that the Stanley J’s location was about to become available. They quickly recognized this as an opportunity, “switched gears” and decided to open a deli in that location.
Claira grew up around the restaurant business since her father, Julie’s ex-husband, owned successful Italian restaurants in Southern California and used family recipes from a previous generation in Sicily. Julie Hamilton subsequently remarried resulting in her and Claira relocating to Kentucky. However, by then the food business was in Claira’s blood and she had a dream to own her own restaurant. When apprised of this venture, her father shared the family recipes so they could be put to good use. This venture is truly a family affair and they consider it family reunion of sorts inviting all customers to feel like they are part of family that appreciates good Italian food .
Rosalia’s is a nice example of a family oriented neighborhood deli and restaurant that is unpretentious, comfortable , moderately priced and has a menu with something for everyone. The foundation of their menu is a commitment to quality that includes the family recipes and making their own sauces, Minestrone Soup, breads and meatballs . The restaurant name, Rosalia’s Old World Italian Deli, speaks to the vision and spirit of what they are doing. Italy, ” the land where the lemon trees bloom” as described by Goethe , has a centuries old tradition and history of an outstanding cuisine culture and each of its regions have their own unique twist on it. Even today, specialty food producers in Italy fiercely dedicate themselves to traditional methods.” One area of specialty in Italy is pork resulting in an outstanding array of flavorful ham, sausage and other products. Its these “old world” culinary values that Rosalia’s pays homage to in a down to earth approachable setting.
As with any restaurant, Rosalia’s is about the food. An eye catching star of the menu is the Antipasto Salad which is served in a large serving bowl with lettuce, olives, tomato, green peppers, artichoke and crowned with shaved mortadella ( Italian sausage ), capicola ( traditional Neapolitan Italian cold cut ) and soppressata ( traditional Italian cured dry salami) plus some provolone and mozzarella cheese. This is a great looking “entree salad” that makes for a memorable meal.
Other salads include a Chef Salad and a Garden Salad. In addition to salads, they have soups including their homemade Minestrone, Hearth Bean , and Tomato Basil.
The core of the menu is its sandwiches and Rosalia’s has a great lineup. Options include Italian cold cut, turkey, ham, roast beef, veggie and a meatball sandwich. There is also pastrami, corned beef, hot Rueben, an Italian sausage and delicious sandwich called The Sicilian which has pepperoni, capicola , marinara sauce and three cheeses.
Any good Italian deli will have some great dessert options. Rosalia’s Cannoli and Tiramisu are wonderful, plus there is Italian Cream Cake, cheesecake and chocolate cake. In keeping with a desire to be family-oriented a Kid’s Menu is offered.
The store features Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. They offer party trays are available for pick up.
Additionally, Rosalia’s has positioned itself as ” The home of 25 cent coffee.”
The next step in the concept’s evolution is to implement a dinner menu which would capitalize on some key base recipes for menu items such a lasagna, spaghetti and chicken parmesan.
From a foodservice business model perspective this venture does some very smart things. First, they opened a deli location in a location that was previously a very well established deli location ( Stanley J’s ) which mitigated location risk. Second, by taking this approach of replacing a deli with a deli they minimized capital investment risk since the conversion costs of this second generation restaurant space would be minor. Third, they have access to generations-old family recipes that bring unique great flavors that differentiate their products. Finally, this is a family that has food passion and expertise that can be a difference maker in this competitive landscape. The longer range plan is to open up more Rosalia’s over time.
Rosalia’s is a well thought out locally owned independent restaurant. They have a Facebook site and a website (
At Rosalia’s, ” Its a family reunion every time you visit ” and their operating hours are Monday through Saturday 11:00 am – 8:30 pm.

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