A while back we got an e-mail from a reader familiar with the Lytle, Natalia, Devine area who suggested we try Rocky's Grill on 173, east of I-35. We of course added it to our list of must visits but just never got around to it until this week.
For some reason, we expected Rocky's to be more of a honky tonk that happened to serve BBQ. When we walked in, we realized we must have been thinking of some other place.
We stepped up onto the outdoor dining area, then walked into what could have been a mini version of Olive Garden. The place surely has an Italian feel to it and the soft music in the background, selections from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin seem to encourage that theme.
Of course, as we sat down, an older Willie Nelson tune came on, so perhaps that reminds us that we have not completely left south Texas.
With both of us eager to eat, we really didn't take the proper amount of time to review the menu or discuss the possibilities. I saw catfish and that was pretty much all I needed to know. Eva decided to go with the BBQ burger. When our waitress brought out a fresh mini loaf of bread from the kitchen, we started thinking we should have looked a little harder at the Italian offerings.
As we waited for our order, the owner, Rocky (Get it? Rocky's Grill) stopped by and introduced himself and we chatted for a while. Turns out he grew up around our old neighborhood in San Antonio and went to High School at Taft. He told us about his desire to make as much as possible of his offerings from scratch using high quality ingredients. I'm all for that! He also told us about the catering work he does, and lots of it.
The BBQ burger was really good. Eva thought it was a bit undercooked (she ordered it medium well, it came out medium) but for me, it was just right. The grilled onions might have been a bit more grilled. The fresh roll was a treat and the overall taste was wonderful. Was it the best we have had in the Tri-City area, probably not but it was very good and worth ordering. The onion rings were not my type, but ya can't hold that against anyone.
Of course, I had to have the catfish. The presentation was outstanding. I liked the fact that there was an effort to season the fish, though I suspect this was like most of the other places in the area, pulled from the freezer and garnished before serving. The taste was good, the Cole slaw was nice and creamy and the fries (hidden under the fish) were excellent.
As we ate Rocky stopped by again and I asked about pizza. He gave me some of the carry out menus and when we really started to look at it, we saw things like Chicken Parmesan, Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, and several other possibilities. Clearly, we will need to go back for a try of the Italian food. I think what we really liked about the place was the atmosphere. Lots of interesting pictures and furniture, the music, the owner who makes it a point to chat with diners. This is all good stuff.
As we were finishing up our dinner, we talked about calling in a pizza for Friday night. I would drive directly to Rocky's from work, pick it up and we could eat at home. When I called Eva to let her know I was leaving work, she asked me if I had the number to the pizza place and I mentioned that I had left a menu on the desk or somewhere. Somewhere is usually where I leave things.
It takes me probably half an hour to get from work out to Devine so I figured the pizza would be ready to go. The only thing I knew was that we were getting a half cheese and half pepperoni. When I showed up, the owner seemed to recognize me from the previous evening and asked what he could get me. I mentioned that we had called in a pizza. He asked for more information and I stated that since my wife called it in, I really didn't know what she ordered.
The cashier at the bar looked through the computer/register and found a pepperoni pizza order with a side of buffalo tenders. When he asked if that was it, I asked him if the pizza was supposed to be half cheese and half pepperoni. There was some confusion for a minute but I paid the bill and took a seat. Rocky came out a minute later and told me it would be a few more minutes for my order and offered me a drink (the iced tea is delicious). I was thinking to myself that they must have got the pizza order wrong and were starting over from scratch. That should have been my first clue.
Shortly, I was on my way home and ready to dig in! When Eva saw the box with Buffalo tenders, she made a comment that I "must be really hungry". That should have been the second clue.
We sat down and commenced to eat this beautiful pizza on hand-tossed crust. It was just so wonderful. The tenders were really, really good, too! As we ate, I said, "You know, I really like Eatza Pizza, but this is a lot better." And that is when things suddenly fell into place. Eva looked at me and said, "That is Eatza Pizza."
Yea. So to the person who ordered a pepperoni pizza and some Buffalo tenders at Rocky's Grill in Devine, I'm sorry if you had to wait for them to prepare your order since I apparently hijacked yours.
And to the good sports at Eatza Pizza, we still like you guys (and will go back often), thanks for keeping the pie warm even though I picked it up an hour late! I think I know what we are having for lunch today.