Rocco's Town House is Hammonton's local meeting place, say owners Dave and Steve Ruberton.

"If you're going to meet someone in town, you're going to come here," Dave Ruberton says. "If you've moved away and you're back for a visit, you're coming here, because you're going to see your friends and relatives here."

Located centrally in downtown Hammonton, Rocco's has been serving its locals for nearly 30 years. The Ruberton brothers opened Rocco's in 1983.

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But it wasn't always the Rocco's of today. For its first 19 years, Rocco's was a restaurant, Cafe San Rocco. The conversion into a tavern was made in 2002 - new name, new menu, new look and lower prices. The original building, a tavern built in 1949, was called Town House, hence the new name.

In the past, townspeople would meet in "town house taverns" to discuss and debate the issues of the day, Steve Ruberton says. At Rocco's, they still do.

Since making the switch to Town House, the Rubertons have been progressively adding on more offerings, including an extensive craft beer list featuring more than 40 bottles and six on tap, 70-inch mounted TVs, and, added just last month, live entertainment on Saturday nights.

"We're the sort of the place that people don't just come to eat dinner and stay in their seat," Steve Ruberton says. "They're walking through the dining room, stopping at tables, moving to the bar."

Homemade Food:

One benefit of converting from restaurant to tavern is much of its menu remained. "It's food you wouldn't expect for a local place at these prices," says Dave Ruberton, the head chef.

Rocco's menu is always fresh, with a daily special listed on its website and its Facebook page. Every Saturday they feature a popular prime rib special, "a nice juicy cut, slow roasted on low all day for more than eight hours," at $17.95. On Mondays they have famous Town House crab cakes for $14.95. "What really has been our biggest winning point is we make it an affordable night out," Dave Ruberton says.

Craft Beer Selection:

Since 2009, Rocco's Town House has been a craft beer destination for Hammonton and its surrounding areas, with more than 40 craft beer bottles and six on tap, currently looking to expand to 16. Each week, they feature a few new ones on the list. House favorites include Brooklyn, Pyramid Brewing and Flying Dog. Specials include $2 off Craft and Drafts 9 p.m. to midnight Thursdays, and $1 off during happy hour, 4 to 6 p.m. Fridays.

New, Live Music Saturdays:

At the end of March, Rocco's started featuring live music performances every Saturday at 9 p.m. in its redone, rear dining area: now with more access to the bar, a portable stage and new 70-inch TVs. Its current music lineup, on its website, features primarily acoustic performances and some jazz. Next up: Greg Kettinger Jazz Trio. "It's the only place in the immediate area that has life music on a regular basis," Dave says.

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