The following article is in memorial in honor of the best restaurateur the Central Coast has ever had the pleasure of dining with. Bill MacMillian of Rosa’s passed away on September 19, 2013, but his legacy goes on with his family and notably his son, Chef Doug MacMillian.
Those of us lucky enough to know and call Bill a friend were truly blessed. No more knowledgeable or giving soul graced this earth. He gave to every charity that asked and was a kind patriarch to all that worked for him. His warm presence enlightened and welcomed all that dined at Rosa’s. This kind of Renaissance man does not come along often and he will be missed greatly. I adored him, for his quick laughter, funny stories and the twinkle in his eye. No kinder heart will ever grace my reviews and I wanted to honor him again by reposting one of the many articles I wrote about him and his restaurant.
Consistency, romance, culinary delights, and perfect service. It is always so good to go home to Rosa’s Ristorante Italiano. This restaurant is a élite keepsake on the Central Coast. The staff is phenomenal, so well trained they compliment the choice to dine here. We came with friends and everything about the meal was impressive. Rosa’s is tucked away at the entrance to Price Street, but it is the go-to spot when you want to impress visiting guests or business acquaintances.
We were greeted at the front door by the most distinguished restaurateur in the area, Bill MacMillian. He promised to join us once the crowd settled down for a glass of Pinot Grigio. Gary started with the specialty desert a Chocolate Tangelo. Two scoops of chocolate/tangelo gelato served in a frosted dish with a cannelloni with mascarpone and candied bird nest decoration with an accompanying orange soaked in plum wine so it was so sweet he ate the rind. He was kind and offered to share, a feat I think only happened because we were with guests.
The rest of us started with the calamari appetizer. Fried crisp, these tubes and tentacles were perfectly cooked and dunked in a house made cocktail sauce and a cilantro cream dipping green sauce that brought out the essence of the ocean when combined.
We settled in with pomegranate martinis served by the beautiful Italian staff and ordered appetizers. My favorite is the Tune Capriccio, a dish with thinly sliced smoked tuna lining the plate heaped with arugula salad and finished with capers, balsamic vinegar, and sweet red onions. This is a dish I dream of eating every night. Gary started with Portobello Con Granchio, a real crab filled Portobello mushroom baked perfectly and full of flavor.
The man I consider the most handsome man in Pismo Beach, Bill MacMillan, owner of Rosa’s, joined us. He is a funny, sweet, and gracious man that has created a superb restaurant space with illustrious food and a magnificent staff. He showed us the mural of the fig tree that was specially made in honor of his late wife, Ada, whose warm spirit still glows within the walls of this fine establishment. He told hilarious stories and made us feel so welcome, it seemed like we were in his own kitchen.
Then I had an appetizer as an entrée, as the special menu beckoned to my senses. This mastermind dish consisted of large scallops wrapped in prosciutto resting on a bed of sautéed spinach and caramelized Parmesan cheese crisp. It was a symphony of flavors, and I inhaled it as if it was my last meal.
Gary had the Brianna Platter Special, which is named after the chef’s daughter and always a hit. It is a huge manicotti with a spinach ricotta covered in flavorful tomatoes sauce and beef cannelloni. He was awed at the shear size of the dishes and the remarkable flavor.
Even though it is an Italian restaurant, our friend had heard they have the best steak filets. Confirmed by Chef Doug McMillan to be the finest from Creekside Farm, where the flavor of free-range beef is outstanding, and the benefits many. He devoured every inch of this medium-rare hunk of beef, we tried a bite, and it astounded us. Accompanied by the chef’s famous saffron risotto, this was a mouth-watering repast. Not many chefs’ can make a flawless risotto, and this one is perfection.
Our friend ordered the four cheeses and red potato Pizza, done on a cracker bread crust with Gorgonzola, Fontina, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheese. This is a pure Italian pizza better than anything this side of the Vatican.
We finished with a visit from the chef, Doug as he told proud family stories and the reason why this is the best restaurant on the Central Coast. “Passion, love and family”, it is their mantra and I agree whole-heartedly. The decorations are simple and elegant with meeting rooms for large groups and an enclosed patio for outside dining. With two generations in the kitchen, Rosa’s combines the best of old and new world cooking, to create a wonderful full-flavored and astoundingly good menu.
Rosa’s Ristorante Italiano is located at 491 Price Street in Pismo Beach, CA and are open from 11:30-2:00 for lunch everyday but Sunday and 4:00-Close every night for dinners, call for reservations for big groups (805) 773-0551.
To Bill’s family I give you this poem:
As much as it hurts, it was time for you to leave.
God saw you getting tired
So, He put his arms around you
And whispered, “Come to Me”.
Although we loved you dearly,
We could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
It was time to rest`
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.
To the world, please read this review and visit Rosa’s often to honor this fantastic man as his son Chef Doug and the rest of his family carry on Bill’s tradition in offering an unsurpassed meal experience.