Rodano’s Thrives On Robust Menu
Frank Rodano’s restaurants have resided at a number of locations throughout Luzerne County since 1980, from his Orange Bowl in the Wyoming Valley Mall to namesake eateries on Northampton Street in Wilkes-Barre and 19 years spent across the street from the gym at King’s College.
For the last decade, however, Rodano’s — a casual Italian-American joint — has held court on Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre, where families, students, young professionals and nearby theatergoers stop in for fresh food and drinks.
The constant through the years has been kitchen manager Kelly Hughes, whose family owned delis and restaurants all over the Wyoming Valley. Armed with her culinary degree from Luzerne County Community College, Hughes works with Rodano to develop a robust menu of salads, sandwiches, and entrees, most of which reflect the duo’s love for their hometown area in the dishes’ names.
Standouts include the Diamond City Salad (made with grilled chicken, fresh apples, pears, Mandarin oranges, Craisins, candied walnuts, Swiss cheese and the lip-smacking Caribbean Mango Vinaigrette); the Paramount Flatbread (roasted garlic spread, spinach, portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, cheddar cheese and a balsamic glaze); and the Market Street Sandwich (grilled chicken on rosemary ciabatta with fresh spinach, roasted red peppers and basil pesto).
“We like to pay tribute to the businesses in our small downtown as well as local sites and history,” Hughes explained.
From award-winning soups and fresh-roasted turkey and roast beef served on rustic breads, to hand-pattied burgers and homemade dressings found on everything, diners frequently complement the craftsmanship of Rodano’s food, which never takes shortcuts.
“We feel it tastes better,” Rodano said.
“It sets us apart,” Hughes agreed.
The menu shows a wide variety of offerings, including New York thin crust and thick-crust Sicilian pizzas made with a sweet tomato sauce, and bar favorites such as the boneless bites cut fresh from white-meat chicken and lightly breaded. Heartier dishes such as the Kresge Flatbread (made with sirloin steak and marinara plus a special cheese blend) and the famed Rodano’s strombolis are a point of pride for the staff.
“Personally, I think our strombolis are the best around,” Hughes said.
“They’re rolled out with love,” Rodano added. “People have known our strombolis for 30 years.”
With seasonal outdoor dining and seating for about 300 inside the bar and dining area — plus another 80 in a party room that can be reserved for occasions from 16th birthdays all the way up to weddings and class reunions — Rodano’s offers plenty of room and catering options for guests. The restaurant frequently hosts fundraisers for people in need, including its annual Valley Santa party at Christmastime.
“We have a spot big enough to hold up to hundreds to help raise money for families,” Rodano said.
“We’re very successful here, and we like to give back,” Hughes said, noting they’ve helped everyone from high school sports and cheer teams to stroke victims and cancer patients.
The restaurant maintains a “great relationship” with F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, located feet away, and is within walking distance of Wilkes University and King’s College. And with more people buying and renting condos in the city’s center, there’s always someone new to welcome, Rodano said.
“Despite what some people might think, Wilkes-Barre is a very safe downtown,” Rodano said.
And he’s glad to show guests a great time whenever they stop in to try his food.
“We formulated this fun atmosphere with a variety of homemade items,” he said.
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Address: 53 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Owner: Frank Rodano
Cuisine: Casual Italian-American
Hours: Opens daily at 11 a.m.; kitchen closes at 9 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays and at 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; bar open until close
Online: Follow the restaurant’s page on Facebook
or visit rodanos.com.