With its casual elegance, fresh local fare, Rudee Inlet location, and family-friendly staff, it’s easy to see why Rockafeller’s Restaurant is loved by locals and tourists alike. Rockafeller’s is one of Virginia Beach’s dining landmarks, making it a must on our first trip to Virginia.
We were greeted at the door by the friendly staff and shown to our table. Two couples were sitting next to us that were as friendly in nature as the staff themselves. We immediately dove into a conversation about travels and family. Both women cooed over Athena and even the men were not immune to her smiley charm. They too were tourists, but their attitude and laid-back personalities were a reflection of the entire restaurant. We felt comfortable sharing our personal lives with them and joking without hesitation.
Our server was helpful and suggested local favorites without being too pushy or aggressive. His knowledge of the menu was astounding. He easily rhymed off 15 different choices with attention to detail. As a non-fish lover, I was expecting to have limited options, but there were plenty of choices that left me thinking and drooling.
Eventually, I chose golden fried cheese sticks as appetizers and babyback ribs for my main course. Cooked until perfectly tender and dripping with zesty barbecue sauce, I was delighted with my main dish. I ordered a side of macaroni and cheese to accompany my ribs and they were oozing with cheesy goodness. It was Southern cooking at its finest. Darren went for a local slice of flavor with the Seafood Au Gratin, a delicious blend of crab meat, shrimp, and scallops in a creamy cheese sauce, baked til golden. Both of our entrees were served with seasonal sides including greens and red potatoes. The table was filled with food, which led to our bellies being filled with delight.
You can usually tell the caliber of a restaurant by the type of people dining there. Not only were we next to two of the finest couples we meet in a long time, but a well known celebrity also dines there regularly. With uncles and a father-in-law who love NASCAR, I am all too familiar with race car personalities so when legend Richard Petty of the Richard Petty Driving Experience and seven time winner of the NASCAR Championship walked into the restaurant, he didn’t go unnoticed. After asking him for a photo, I learned that he has been a regular at Rockafeller’s Restaurant for more than 15 years. I also took note that he ordered the crab legs; if they are good enough for Richard Petty, I’d suggest them to anyone. The family atmosphere and delicately prepared food is a draw for people in all walks of life.
We finished our evening with desserts as we casually chatted with the couples at the adjacent table. The Jamaican Rum Cake that I chose was topped with melt-in-your-mouth caramel and its warm, moist base was calling my name. Even when I am so stuffed that I can’t eat another bite of my main dish, I always find room for dessert. Darren’s Chocolate Eclair Pie was equally worthy of finding room to fit it in and we cleaned our plates. (I think if we had of been at home, Darren might have licked the plate, but he showed some restraint since we were in public.)
When I go out to a fast food restaurant, I expect to get good tasting food in a timely manner but that’s it. I’m not expecting personable service, an elegant atmosphere, or unlimited choices, although that does happen in fast food restaurants occasionally. When I go to a eat-in restaurant, though, I expect more; you’re paying for the service and quality after all. Restaurants that offer fine dining, a sociable atmosphere, a variety of choices, attentive staff, and a top-notch environment are hard to come by, but Rockafeller’s Restaurant really did have it all. Just look at the view from our window and the food laid out on the table and you’ll see what I’m talking about.