For years I didn’t ‘get’ the Italian cuisine and I didn’t understand how so many could rave about it. Now, after a few trips to Rome and a honeymoon in Venice, I know that this is because I hadn’t actually had any Italian food! Instead, I’d been eating British Italian food; mostly sloppy over cooked pasta, drenched in a creamy sauce.
Thankfully things have moved on and we do have authentic Italian here in Sheffield (Vero Gusto, for one), but it is more of a luxurious treat than a quick lunch. And, following the loss of Taste on Eccy Road, I think we have been missing that casual, but authentic, Italian dinning.
But, I think I may have now found somewhere to fill that gap – Roma. Located in the most unlikely of places (Castle Street), Roma probably won’t have made it onto the radar of its target market. Having said that, it has received good reviews on Sheffield Forum and there have been a couple of people praising it on Twitter. So, a trip has been on the cards for some time and I’m pleased to say that we made it there yesterday.
On entrance, Roma reminded me a little of Gusto Italiano – because of its cafe feel. The menu is also quite casual and split into stuzzichini, antipasti, pasta, secondi, pizze and insalate. With a breakfast menu Roma opens good and early (7.30 or 8 on a Saturday), but shuts by 6pm (or 5.30 on a Saturday) so it’s not really an option for dinner.
We had good intentions; we had planned on only having a pasta dish each, but I managed to persuade Gav to try the mix of stuzzichini (£8) to start. I figured that it would give us a real overview of the restaurant’s offering. We hadn’t really registered that this was a selection of 6 tapas style dishes and we initially thought that the first 4 dishes to arrive was the whole lot. Melanzane parmigiana, mushroom bruschetta, a selction of cheese and meats and olives was an ample selection…
But then two more dishes arrived. Meatballs…
… and a sweet pepper bruschetta with an artichoke (or carciofi alla giudia) and salad.
Everything was really tasty; simple, Italian fare. Highlights were the meatballs (my god that tomato sauce was good), the carciofi alla giudia (a true Roman speciality) and the meats.
Moving onto ‘mains’, I went for the penne alla sarda (£7.50). Penne pasta with lamb and a tomato sauce topped with pecorino was a decent serving. The sauce was rich and the lamb was tender but it was the pasta that really blew me away! It was al dente! And I mean, proper al dente! (i.e. when I bit into it there were some small white spots in the centre).
Gav went for ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach, served with a tomato sauce and Parmesan (£7.90). Once again the pasta was well cooked and, given this was a dish of fresh pasta, it had a good level of bite. Each piece was packed to bursting with a light and fresh tasting filling. The sauce was also quite light and complemented the pasta nicely.
Although suitably stuffed, Gav couldn’t resist the profiteroles (70p each). Huge balls of choux pastry stuffed with whipped cream came with an unusual mousse like chocolate sauce which meant that the dessert wasn’t too heavy. We also had an espresso each (£1.40).
We’d each had a bottle of san pellegrino lemonade (I spotted the wine in the fridge after ordering drinks) and the bill came to £32.20. With friendly service and a clean and bright feel to the cafe, Roma has impressed and we’ll be back for more.