If you got all excited about the headline and thought you were going to get a review of the 1962 movie with Suzanne Pleshette and Troy Donahue, you are going to be disappointed. You are also revealing your age. This review is of Roma Italian Restaurant in Bonham.
I met a friend, who had recommended Roma, in Bonham last week for lunch. The restaurant is in a small strip shopping center just south of Walmart and across State Highway 121 from Bonham High School. At 12:45 p.m., there were about 10 diners in the room. The waitress appeared quickly with a basket of warm Parmesan rolls and we set to studying the menu. And with a number of salads and appetizers, a variety of pizzas, home baked pastas, seafood, chicken, veal dishes and house specialties, it took some study. Roma also has a kid’s menu.
Finally, I decided to try the pasta sampler off the lunch menu with lasagna, manicotti and spinach ravioli, and my friend went big time with an entree listed under House Specialties, the Roma Special. Both dishes came with a salad, but I wanted to try the minestrone, the only soup on the menu. It was more an entree size and price than a starter, so I asked the waitress if I could get a smaller portion, say a cup? She went back to the kitchen to ask the powers that be, and came back with a no. It was a bowl or nothing. I was disappointed, and accepted the salad.
The salad was a bowl of chopped iceberg lettuce with a few pieces of diced tomato scattered about and came with the usual lineup of standard dressings. I like crackers with a salad, but none were offered.
Soon enough, the main courses arrived. My pasta sampler came in a small, very hot dish, and was smothered in marinara sauce and mozzarella. Lasagna is a layered dish with wide lasagna noodles alternating with ricotta cheese, meat sauce and topped with mozzarella. Manicotti is a large pasta tube, that is stuffed with meat or cheese and baked before being napped with a sauce and cheese, and ravioli — well, if you do not know what ravioli is, you need to meet Chef Boyardee.
I think I was expecting three separate servings of these traditional dishes on one plate, but in this case all came as one under the sauce. There was no way to distinguish the lasagna from the manicotti from the ravioli. Did it taste good? Of course it did, you cannot go far wrong with pasta, tomato sauce and cheese, but the presentation was disappointing. More definition of the samples would have been helpful.
Across the table, my friend was getting ready to attack a huge plate of Roma Special. He liked it, consumed all he could hold and took the rest home for another day. (He does not get out much.) I tried a couple of bites and frankly found it suffering from some of the same shortcomings as my pasta. The dominate ingredient was the bed of spaghetti, the white wine cream sauce was a little heavy for my taste, and the “touch” of marina tinted the entire dish a rosy pink. A lighter sauce would have let the various ingredients have more of a say in the overall taste.
Next came dessert. Roma offers three types of cheese cake, cannoli and tiramisu. We opted for the latter two. A cannoli, which comes from Sicily, is a pastry tube that is fried, and then filled with various types of sweet fillings, often made with riccotta and nuts. Roma’s version used a sweet thick cream filling, and had a drizzle of chocolate on top. The pastry was a shade thick, and resisted the knife, so we broke it in half in order to share.
Tiramisu, which dates only back to the 1960s, has become one of the most popular dessert items served in Italian-American restaurants. Ladyfingers are dipped in coffee and then layered with a whipped mixture of cream, sugar, eggs and mascarpone, and usually topped with cocoa or chocolate. It provides a light and airy finish to the meal. Roma’s version did the job nicely.
Like Chinese-American and Mexican-American (Tex-Mex), Italian-American cuisine has become an important part of the American food scene, and is enjoyed by millions every day. Roma Italian Restaurant, with its extensive menu, has something to intrigue every palete. If one dish does not meet your expectations, there are always others to try. And you’ll never go far wrong with a pizza.
Complaints, ideas, suggestions, let us know at Sparkes@heralddemocrat.com And leave room for dessert.