Intrigued by the write up in the Oregonian FoodDay section 2 weeks ago, our party of four ventured out to give them a try.
It is a somewhat spartan, yet warm tratorria on the 600 block of SW 12th Avenue. About one half of the 10 tables were filled when we arrived at 6:30p.m. The chef husband and wife are supplemented by another prep cook and server. Service was leisurely, but slow if you were in a hurry to eat and run. Restaurants of this type are geared towards relaxing and enjoying the meal.
The menu had a selection of 7 appetizers, of which we had salads, Antipasta )three italian meats, fontina cheese, olives and greens), platter of suateed clams and mussels. All were between $6.50 and $8.95. Homebaked breads with imported balsamic and olive oil made for a great munching while enjoying the wine we brought. Wine selection is limited to 6 bottles, so we brought in our own ($10.00 corkage). Stemware was appropriate for this type of place.
The food is wonderful in its simplicity. PDX has plenty of Italian restaurants who take their food to the next level in terms of ingredients and presentation. Ristorante Roma serves food with soul and flavor which reminds you of the Sunday dinner with the Italian family down the street.
There were about 7 pasta/entree selections which ran from simple rigatoni, spaghetti, linguini, fresh gnocchi. Pasta were paired with three tomato based sauces, with the remainder either cream/white wine combos. The marinara and tomato meat sauces were fresh with plenty of bright falvor and acidity. Everything except the meat, seafood and produce is imported from Italy. There were tow chicken, swordfish and meat entrees as well. We had a variety of dishes: Rigatoni con Fungi y carne; Beef Tenderloin with Porcini mushrooms; pasta with clams in a white wine sauce and a beautiful paninni with cured meats, cheeses and a spread. The porcini mushrooms are imported (frozen) but had an intense flavor that infused the dish. A real crowd pleaser.
We ended the night with tiru masu and espressos. The tiru masu was solid, but nothing like what you would find at say, Alba Osteria. Drinks are limited to the 1/2 dozen wines and 5-6 bottled beers. No liquor. Bill for four people was $109.00, not including tip.
We all agreed this is the kind of place we all wish was down the street from our home. Our friends, who were Italian, said this is true authentic cuisine that reminded them of their childhood growing up in NYC. Good compliment.
We'll definitely be back.