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Restaurants & Bars 9

Rodeo – Ricky’s Corner – Fried chicken worth risking a heart attack

rworange | May 5, 200601:03 AM

Rodeo. My favorite town.

Here and there on Chowhound there have been one line mentions of great chicken in Rodeo. There were never any details.

Yesterday while eating at La Strada in San Pablo, the older gentleman at the next table … who had just had heart surgery … mentioned one of the first restaurants he went to once he could get out of bed was Ricky’s for the fried chicken. I though, wow, that’s gotta be good chicken.

When I mentioned it casually in a La Strada post, J T pinned down the location to Rodeo and said “yes, their fried chicken dinner is that d... good.” You have to love Chowhound for being a place where there’s instant feedback like that for a restaurant in a small town like Rodeo with a population of … what …ten?

So it was the fried chicken dinner tonight at Ricky’s with a crème de menthe parfait ($3.75) for dessert.

This is a very large half chicken simple dredged in flour and deep fried until the coating is crisp enough to shatter with each bite. It is nicely done because despite the large chicken pieces, the meat is both completely cooked and juicy. It comes with potato wedges. A large Idaho potato is quartered, dredged in the flour and deep-fried.

While my heart still belongs (literally) to Nellie’s, I really can’t think of a better fried chicken in this part of the East Bay.

Dinner comes with a half loaf of, I’m guessing, Maggiora Italian bread and a bowl of cold butter pats. Soup AND salad come with dinner.

Salad was the usual dish of mainly iceberg with a carrot stick, celery stick and one black pitted olive.

Choice of soup was minestrone, split-pea or cream of broccoli. The cup of thick split pea was probably canned, but they added nice large cubes of ham to it.

A bucket of fried chicken with potato wedges can be ordered to go ... $11.75 for 8 pieces, $16.75 for 16 pieces. Given how HUGE the chicken is, this is a major deal. My 1/2 chicken dinner had 4 pieces and I had lots of leftovers.

They also have two other types of take-out chickens available –
- Garlic chicken
- Chicken Italiano which is baked to order chicken with herbs and spices. The menu says to allow 45 minutes for this chicken.

Other eat-in chicken dinners are
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Chicken livers sautéed in wine with mushrooms and onions

Never in a million years would I have guessed this is a restaurant. It looks like all of those non-descript bars with a fading sign to mark its location and the requisite cocktail glass on the sign for this type of establishment. In fact, even though I had the address, I passed it by twice.

Ricky’s is an Italian restaurant and bar that has been in Rodeo for over 28 years. Prior to that, the owners ran a restaurant in El Cerrito called The Silver Dollar.

Even had I been curious enough to walk in the door, the sign is over the bar ... the type with a pool table where all the regulars turn to check you out as you walk in. The restaurant has an unmarked entrance or can be entered to the right of the bar.

Hard to believe but Ricky’s made a wood-paneled room with acoustic ceilings look cozy and inviting. There are wooden frames around each table. The frames are covered with white twinkling Christmas lights. The ceiling lights are dimmed with most of the light coming from the twinkling lights or lamps scattered around the room. It is hard to tell the plants decorating the room are artificial.

The plates were the type your grandmother might have, those plates that look like blue willow plates but are red with flowers.

There are a few red sauce Italian dishes on the menu. The most interesting seems ‘Ricky’s homemade cannelloni”.

Pasta is spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna or pasta with pesto. Meatballs are available. There’s Veal Scaloppini and Veal Parmesan.

There is a handwritten specials menu. Tonight sweetbreads, eggplant parmigana, BBQ pork ribs, oysters and chipotle-lime tilapia were on the specials menu.

There is NY steak, T-Bone, Top Sirloin, medallions of beef, steak parmesan and grilled pork chops. They also have beef liver and onions.

Seafood selections included calamari steak, sole almandine, breaded catfish, batter-dipped & grilled sole and breaded grilled halibut steak.

Dinners are in the $12 - $16 range. The half chicken dinner was $13. On Tuesday night there is a special where chicken is $7 if you eat in the bar.

The parfait was three scoops of ice cream drizzled with a generous amount of crème de menthe and topped with canned whipped cream and served in an old-fashioned tall tulip-shaped metal dish. There is also a kahlua parfait and root beer parfait. Chocolate mousse, cheesecake and strawberry delight round out the dessert menu.

I’m not even sure if they have draft beer, which is odd for a bar and the beers run to Miller’s and Bud. My bottle of Miller’s came with a frosted glass courtesy of the Miller’s Beer Company and printed on it was “It’s time for a big old macro-brew”.

It was that type of place. Nothing fancy and old-fashioned.

Ricky’s seems proof that a diet of fried food and alcohol might not be as unhealthy as is suspected. Appetizers included deep-fried prawns, calamari strips, mushrooms, raviolis and zucchini. If anyone in the restaurant was under 50 I’d be surprised. And most of those 50 year olds had their parents with them. I was there early though, so that might explain the customer profile.

It was a family type of place with a constant hum of conversation and laughter.

On the back of the menu was printed:

“A customer is the most important person in our business. You are not dependant on us. We are dependant on you. You are not the interrupter of our work day but are the purpose of it. Our service is not a favor. You favor us by letting us serve you. Bring us you needs. It is our privilege to handle them. – Judy and family”

Ricky's Corner

18 Parker Ave
Rodeo, CA 94572-1119
Phone: 510-799-5222

It is located one block down from the Rodeo Sport, Bait, Liquor & Taxidermy store. On the other side of the street. In fact, it is not really on a corner, but between a sport store and an air conditioning repair shop.

Call to double check, but I believe the hours are:

Tues-Fri: 11 am – 2 pm


They open at 5 pm and close around 9 or 10 pm depending on the day of the week. Not sure if they are open on Monday.

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