Some people frequent Mad Rosie’s for the sandwiches. Others, for the acai bowls. One customer wants to try every salad on the menu.
“That’s what makes my heart melt,” said owner Rosie Cassidy, “seeing the same customers come back again, and again, and again.”
Mad Rosie’s opened on 9 North Water St. in Edgartown in late May 2019. The menu is packed with hot and cold sandwiches, subs, and wraps. There are ham, turkey, chicken, and steak, plus plenty of veggie and vegan options. There are loaded salads, quinoa medleys, and breakfast sandwiches — few items list less than 10 ingredients.
“That’s what I grew up with,” Rosie said. “In Brazil, we like our lunches to have lots of flavors and colors — we’ll have rice, beans, meat, pasta, and salad, all in one meal. This is what I come from.” And that’s what Mad Rosie’s menu reflects.
Rosie moved to Martha’s Vineyard 19 years ago after finishing high school in Brazil. “It was time for a change,” Rosie said. “We were farmers, and there’s not much to do after high school. You move to the big city or you stay a farmer. I wanted something else. I wanted something more.”
Rosie and six of her friends paid for work visas, and gave the U.S. a try. “The American dream,” Rosie said. “Learn English. Work. Make money.”
When Rosie arrived, the extent of her English stopped at the number 10. “I could count and I knew ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you,’” Rosie said. It was enough to land her first job at the Wharf.
“At the time, the manager said I was too young,” Rosie said. “He gave me three days to prove myself. On my second day, he said I could stay.” She started as a dishwasher. Two weeks later, she was a prep cook. Two months later — a line cook.
“Things happened to me very fast, because all I wanted to do was learn, learn, learn,” she said. “And I listened. You don’t have to tell me to do something twice.” Rosie worked at the Wharf for 14 years — it’s where she met her husband, Dan Cassidy. And after a stint as sous-chef at Among the Flowers, Rosie was ready to start a venture of her own.
Rosie wakes up at 4 o’clock every morning. She meets the food delivery truck, unloads the day’s ingredients, and begins preparing quinoa, homemade muffins, and homemade granola. Doors open at 8 am. “It’s a hard job, but this is the way I choose to do it,” Rosie said.
Mad Rosie’s shares a storefront with Mad Martha’s on always-bustling North Water Street. Customers order at the counter and take their food to-go, or enjoy it at one of the round dining tables. As owner and head chef, Rosie’s usually in the kitchen filling orders for a steady stream of what have become loyal clientele. She has help from her sister, a friend, her son, and husband, Dan. The kitchen may be small, but it serves up tons of variety.
I tried Jojo’s Veggie Wrap ($13) made with mixed greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, onions, green peas, red pepper, carrots, red cabbage, jalapeño, avocado, and vegetable cream cheese spread in a spinach wrap. I took my first bite and heard the familiar, always-appreciated crunch of a fresh, quality medley of vegetables. Delicious. Flavorful. Beautiful. Colors like the rainbow. This sandwich made me want to sample my way down the entirety of the Mad Rosie menu. The acai bowl ($16) is one of the most popular items, according to Rosie. It’s topped with strawberries, bananas, kiwi, peanut butter, granola, and honey. The acai is sourced straight from Brazil, which makes it different from other acai offerings on the Island. “No chemicals, no sugar, no nothing,” Rosie said. “Plain acai from Brazil.” Rosie hopes to someday exclusively source her ingredients from the Island and Brazil only. For now, she sources local produce and Brazilian fruit whenever she can.
As far as the name “Mad Rosie’s” goes, Rosie said it found her. “I was looking for a name — a crazy name. Something people would remember,” Rosie said. “I’m thinking things like Rosie’s Vineyard Sandwich, but nothing really stuck. We talked to Patti [Roberts], the owner of Mad Martha’s, who’s also a friend, and she said, Why not Mad Rosie’s? We all looked at each other and said, Yep, that’s it.”
Rosie said she’s grateful to the Island, its people, and the connections she’s made in 19 years.
“I remember washing dishes and dreaming about all of these things I wanted to do someday,” Rosie said. “I could have never imagined this — my own restaurant in a beautiful town. I love it. I wake up at 4 every single morning, and I’m happy. That’s saying something.”
Mad Rosie’s, 9 North Water St., Edgartown. Open from 8 am to 5 pm, seven days a week. For more information, call 774-549-9982.