Some folks refer to Rosie Cooper's Southern cuisine as soul food, but she just calls it home cooking.
The barbecued ribs and fried catfish, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie that Cooper serves at her Monrovia restaurant, Rosie's Kitchen (no relation to the low-fat guru named Rosie who presides over Oprah's kitchen), are the staples of her childhood.
"To me and so many other people it's not soul food. It's every day food," she said. "It's what we were raised on. We were raised on greens and corn bread and beans and yams and all the \o7 good \f7 food!"
Cooper, whose family moved from Mississippi to Pasadena when she was a child, used to whip up those dishes for her six brothers and sisters. So after she retired from a career as an administrative secretary, the restaurant business was a natural transition.
"I decided to do something for myself," she said. "I had wanted to open a restaurant for four or five years."
She worked as a waitress at the previous restaurant on the site, Salt and Pepper, and when it closed last summer, she took the plunge and bought it. She's decorated the small eatery with burgundy tablecloths and posters of figures like jazz great Louis Armstrong.
"I wandered about and asked," she said, " 'What do people like that they can't find in Monrovia?' "
Fried fish came to mind, and so did open-pit barbecue fare. Rosie and her staff cook up heaps of ribs, pork, sliced beef and chicken over an open-pit barbecue every other day. And she drives down to Los Angeles' wholesale fish market to buy fresh seafood. The menu includes whiting, red snapper, sand dab, catfish, filet of sole and shrimp.
Meals come with one or two side dishes. Diners can choose Southern specials--collard greens, Cajun red beans, rice--as well as generic favorites such as potato salad, french fries or cole slaw.
The desserts are made here as well: warm peach or apple cobbler or sweet potato pie, topped with ice cream, if you like.
"Mini-dinners," a good choice for lunch, include smaller portions of meat or fish and one side dish. Full dinners come with two sides and more of the main course.
Catfish is $7.99 for a full dinner, and baby back ribs are the same. A half chicken dinner is $5.99, and red snapper is $6.99. Mini-dinners are about $2 less for most items.
\o7 Rosie's Kitchen, 622 S. Myrtle Ave., Monrovia. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Prices from $2.99 to $9.99. (818) 359-6773.