Sunday, April 5, 2009

Trattoria Roma

Trattoria Roma
609 Walnut St.

I met up with a friend for lunch recently at Trattoria Roma, a nice little Italian place across the street from the Aronoff Center. The restaurant is dimly lit and looks bigger than it is, thanks to a strategically placed wall of mirrors on one side of the full-service bar. Although I've never visited during dinner hours I imagine that it can get very busy, considering its prime location. Lunch is served from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays and dinner runs from 5-9 p.m. M-Th and until 11 p.m. on Fri and Sat, although times may vary based on Aronoff show times. Best to call ahead.

Conveniently located across from the Aronoff

The restaurant wasn't very busy on the day we visited, yet we felt we were being rushed to make our menu choices. Our server didn't have a very good grasp of English and couldn't tell me if the soup of the day was vegetarian or meat-based, and didn't understand what I was asking when I wanted to know if the tomato sauce was vegetarian. The menu doesn't specify vegetarian items, so I cast my fate to the wind and hoped for the best.

As with most Italian cuisine restaurants, there are several items on the menu that are vegetarian when prepared with marinara sauce: calzones, pizzas and two pasta dishes - tortellini alla panna (tortellini in cream sauce with artichoke hearts and peas), and penne with broccoli and sundried tomatoes. Luckily the tomato sauce at Trattoria Roma is a vegetarian-friendly marinara. I figured it would be, but not knowing for sure and not having a server who could tell me was exasperating. It would be nice if the restaurant noted vegetarian items on the menu, or at the very least listed the marinara sauce as vegetarian.

The pasta dishes come with a side of soup or salad, and since I was unable to suss out the ingredients in the soup, I opted for the safety of greens. We were served a basket of warm rolls when our salads arrived, but the accompanying butter pats were nearly frozen and had to be warmed up considerably before they were useful. My penne was cooked correctly - I would expect no less from an Italian restaurant - but the sauce was watery and didn't have much flavor to it. I would have expected some garlic, or some basil and oregano at the very least. Instead the dish relied on commercial parmesan to carry it.

The Trattoria Roma side salad

Penne with broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes

I think the problem with this restaurant is that there is no "wow factor" on the menu - at least as far as vegetarian items are concerned. There are plenty of standard dishes, but nothing exciting and certainly nothing that I can't do a better job of creating at home. I want to like Trattoria Roma, but after this visit the jury is still out.

Trattoria Roma on Urbanspoon


Erin said...

Hey thanks for reviewing this! I've heard random negative comments about this, but never from a vegetarian perspective. I'm a vegetarian too, and always love reading your posts!

Veggie Option said...

Hi Erin, and thanks for reading!

liberal foodie said...

We went there for dinner last winter, 2007, in a group and thought it was decent. The food we ordered was good and our server was a fun, older Italian gentleman that entertained us with his older italian man jokes. But I agree, even though the food is good, nothing stands out.

Veggie Option said...

LF, it's good to know you enjoyed the dinner service. I'm going to have to give it a shot, as I felt like lunch was something of a hurried, thrown together affair.

Cin Twin1 said...

I went for dinner one time and was so scarred from the experience that we will not go back!

We had tickets to a show and made our reservations at 6:30 for an 8PM show. We ordered some wine, and our food and our food was not served until 7:40..we ate so quickly ran out of the restaurant to make the show in time, and have decided there are way better restaurants in downtown to spend our money.

We even told them we were going to a show! No excuses for this!

Veggie Option said...

Wow CinTwin, waiting an hour for dinner is inexcusable - especially when they were aware of your timetable.