I'm trying to remember the first time I ate at a Rockne's. According to the sign in front of the original location, they have been around since 1975. I don't recall ever eating at one of their many northeast Ohio locations until after I had moved back from Columbus to Akron back in 2004. Since then, however, I have returned many times and eaten at various locations. One of the reasons for me coming back is that they have always been an excellent value for the money.
In doing research on Rockne's on the Internet, I discovered that they have a sandwich on their menu, the Terminator Sub, that I had never actually tried. Knowing that their other sandwiches have always been substantial and tasty, I decided to track down this beloved sub sandwich at the original Rockne's location in Cuyahoga Falls. Located at 2752 Hudson Drive, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, 44221, this location can be reached at 330-928-3713. From all of the Rockne's locations I've been to so far, this one is unique in that it occupies a pre-existing building. All of the other locations have been built from the ground up and all look alike.
Here was a shot of the exterior of the original Rockne's:
And here was a close-up shot of the hours of operation:
After walking through this door, you have your choice of a door to your left or a door to your right. It's almost like one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books from my elementary school days. The left door will lead to you to the bar area and the restrooms. The right door will lead you to the restaurant side of the establishment. While you can get food on either side, I normally sit in the restaurant. The only real criticism I have of the establishment itself (not food-related) was that the men's room was beyond TINY. Clearly I have not checked the women's room for proportions, but if the men's room in any indication, the ladies will have just as much trouble fitting in as the men do. Other locations don't seem to have this issue.
The menu was quite extensive and has obviously grown over the years to include soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, entrees, pastas, and more. In an effort to avoid giving you fifteen pictures of nothing but the menu, I decided to limit my photographs to two, the left and right side of the sandwich menu:
One of the nice things I have always enjoyed about Rockne's sandwiches is that they are offered as a whole or a slightly larger than half with a side for about the same price. You can also get any of the side dishes and not just the fries if you decide to go with a half sandwich. Rockne's must reprint their menus every so often because this version advertised that the new marketing term for the half sandwich option was now labeled as "bigger than half (2/3)".
Since I was here for the Terminator Sub, I went ahead and ordered a half-sub with onion rings. After that I looked around a bit and took a snapshot of the open kitchen:
This was the only Rockne location I know of that has an open kitchen. It was nice to watch the staff operating both behind and in front of the pass. After about ten minutes, my sandwich platter came out:
In what can only be considered a cross between a Primanti Bros./Panini's sandwich and a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, this steak sandwich came with two kinds of cheese and was topped with some of Rockne's signature shoestring fries:
I'm not really crazy about their fries in general. Too often they remind me of the "fresh cut fries" you find at the fair: Limp and greasy. That was why I ordered the onion rings as my side instead. I figured the fries might do less damage if they were on the sandwich than on their own. Did the sandwich live up to the hype that I read about on the Internet? Overall, I'd say yes. The meat was tender and juicy, the cheeses were nice and creamy, the mayo and "dressing" added nice moisture to the sub. While the dressing is not specifically identified on the menu, when I asked my server about it, she admitted that it was actually the house Italian dressing. That explained why I was picking up notes of oregano as I took bite after bite.
The fries didn't do a whole lot for me. Maybe it was because there weren't a whole lot of them on top of the sandwich or because they just didn't present a lot of flavor on their own. I will say that as I got about half-way through my sub, my taste buds became saturated. Even though there was dressing on the sub, it just wasn't enough acid to help cut through the fattiness of the other ingredients. The ketchup I used with my onion rings helped, but not quite enough.
Speaking of the onion rings, here was a shot of the side in question:
These were decent, but I could tell they had been fried from frozen. After biting into one and having the entire onion slide out of its casing, I asked my server and she confirmed that they were indeed frozen onion rings. Of course I would've preferred fresh, but like I said, these were good and definitely a better choice than the fries. They embodied the qualities of a good onion ring, hot and crispy on the outside and tender and sweet on the inside.
I've never actually ordered a "full" sandwich from Rockne's, although technically not all sandwich come in the "bigger than half" size and the full-size. Unless you have a monumental appetite, I would stick with the smaller size. My sandwich with onion rings rang up at a very reasonable $7.69.
With my check came a nice little surprise, a "wafer thin mint":
While I'm not going to judge the deliciousness of the Andes mint (I'm a sucker for anything chocolate), I will say that this was a nice way to end the meal. It reminded me of how many places don't provide this little sweet treat at the end of the meal anymore.
Overall, my experience this time at Rockne's was the same as my other visits; the food and service were good, the atmosphere was nice, and overall it was a positive experience. I don't know that I loved the Terminator Sub as much as others do, but they have many other items on the menu that I like, too. If you haven't checked them out before, definitely give them a look at one of their many locations.