Above: Rockwood co-owners Anthony, Mike, and Nick Cordero
In a region where breweries and wineries dot the landscape, Gainesville scored a restaurant that’s making a name for itself not just for its outstanding fresh food, but also because it serves its own private label California wine. Part of the family-owned MACNAC Hospitality Group, Rockwood is a refreshing addition to the expanding landscape of restaurants and shops in Virginia Gateway.
Rockwood is the eighth restaurant concept owned and operated by the group, each with its own theme and menu. Rockwood serves American cuisine with a menu created by owner and head chef, Mike Cordero.
At nearly 5,000 square feet, Rockwood seats 200 and features two bars and two patios, each with their own feel. One patio is turf and feels like an inviting backyard complete with outdoor games like cornhole and giant Jenga. The other features a sliding glass wall that opens when the weather is nice, bringing the outdoors in, and the bar out.
Family owned and operated restaurant. The MACNAC Hospitality Group is comprised of Chef Mike Cordero, and sons Anthony and Nick. The Cordero family has been in the restaurant business for over 40 years. Chef Mike has a talent for taking restaurant concepts and making them big. He got his start working in various restaurants as a kid in the Bronx. New York style pizza was where he started, but he wound up working his way up to head chef at the famous Sardi’s restaurant in Manhattan, working with owner Vincent Sardi Jr. He came to Northern Virginia as president of operations for a pizza chain that he took to franchise in shopping malls in the ‘80s, at a time when pizzerias weren’t commonplace in malls. From there he became a restauranteur, opening his first fine dining Italian restaurant, Bravo’s in Fairfax. Always exploring new trends, he continued to open more restaurants with different themes and menus, each curated by him. These include a steakhouse, Latin fusion, tacos and tequila, sports bars and even an arcade themed restaurant.
And after touring Europe and developing an understanding of the ever-expanding Virginia winery circuit, Mike took another idea and made it big, developing his own wine label. Partnering with Darcie Kent Vineyards in Northern California, Cordero produces four wines: chardonnay, pinot grigio, merlot and pinot noir, all of which are offered as the house wines at Rockwood. Rockwood’s beer selection is also impressive, and adds another unique and creative twist; just like going to your favorite brewery, they offer beer growlers that can be filled with any beer they have on tap.
“Chase the vision, not the money. The money will end up following you.” Chef Mike Cordero
According to co-owner Anthony Cordero, partnering with community is and has always been important to them. Earlier this season they celebrated the one-year anniversary and official launch of their patios with a party that featured local businesses, breweries Honor Brewing and Old Busthead, and another Gainesville favorite, MurLarkey Distillery. It was a great gathering with drink specials, the grill and a DJ outside. To the Cordero’s it was a way to bring the community together and show their appreciation for its support.
While it certainly has a great vibe for a date night, and a great scene for happy hour, first and foremost, Rockwood is a family-friendly restaurant.
“We are a restaurant first, and a bar second. We want to cater to everyone,” said Anthony Cordero.
House label wine, family owned, chef-inspired menu, these are not the only things that make Rockwood stand out. All of the food is made-to-order. This means there is no large freezer in the back housing pre-made foods. Each prime rib is cut to order and even the deviled eggs burst with filling made only when ordered.
Rockwood offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, features a seasonal patio menu full of beach-themed drinks made with freshly squeezed juices, and is rocking the summer with an event calendar packed with live music, dancing, karaoke, trivia and more. For additional information and the latest event news, find them on Facebook at @RockwoodVA.