It was pure pleasure to return last month to one of my favourite spots for dining in the late 80’s and 90’s! It had become a tradition for a group of us to either eat there at lunchtime or unwind with good conversation and good snacks after work. A that time it was known as Pizza Roma, and I’m sure many still affectionately call Roma Ristorante by that name. For lunch most of us had the tasty veal sandwich, or a soup of the day and a Caesar salad, but at our after work limes (social gatherings) it was their famous pizza often accompanied by some Moretti beer or a few glasses of red wine. Sometimes, especially if the conversation was good or we were on the patio on a warm sun shining day, we would have more than a few drinks. Mind you, most of us lived in the area or just hopped on the train at the Dufferin subway to go home!
I don’t want to lose you in my reminiscences but I had to share with you some of the early days of what one could almost call a venerable institution. I say this simply because Ristorante Roma is still managed by the owners from over 25 years ago, and with its beautiful more contemporary makeover it still retains its early warm atmosphere. One of its most pleasant waiters is still his cheerful youthful self! And the owners are still inviting and unrushed when they greet you by the bar or on the patio.
And on the patio was where I tried the veal sandwich again after returning from my winter sojourn in Barbados, and it did not disappoint! But there was a twist – the bun was tastier. Again a few weeks later when I returned to the patio with a few friends for dinner I noticed the bread was different, so I asked the waiter the reason. She said, “We bake our bread daily”. This time I had the bread with a Greek salad and a Fettuccine Seafood Primavera, while someone had a Linguine Veneziana, and another the Penne Salmone. We were certainly in a seafood mood. The portions were ample and whether it was the salmon, mussels, squid or shrimp each was flavourful indeed.
In early June I decided to take my good friend Stedson Wiltshire (stage name is Red Plastic Bag and 8 times Calypso Monarch of Barbados) who was in Toronto to perform at the 6th annual Barbados Charity Ball for a relaxing supper at Roma. Both of us decided to have one of the special features of the night, the Veal Picata in a lemon sauce. Wow wow, we were both delighted with the presentation and the flavour of the veal with the mashed potatoes, carrots and green beans. Mouth wateringly superb! Although I offered my friend to have one of their assorted cheesecakes (an item I shared regularly with another special friend in the “old days”) or some tiramisu or carrot cake, he was too satiated to do so. Actually I was glad he did, so I could decline too in order to give me another reason to return before this month is over.