Review: Romios Pizza & Pasta
After eating at Romio’s, I was very excited to introduce you to this quaint little restaurant. They serve up some killer Italian cuisine. I could hardly contain myself to start writing a review. I couldn’t wait to tell you about the bad-ass Greek/Italian family recipes of amazing meat balls, fantastic marinara, sumptuous bechamel, perfect pizza dough, and delicious garlic bread. I couldn’t wait to tell you about their lasagna, which is probably the best lasagna I’ve had from a restaurant. I couldn’t hardly wait to tell you of a small family owned local treat that was forever going to change your opinion of Olive Garden. But as I prepared to write this review, I did my standard background research of the restaurant I’m reviewing, only to find that Romio’s is a franchise out of Washington. Damn chains! That’s all we seem to get here in Boise (8 out of 10 anyway). I was so disappointed that I felt like skipping this review and leaving Romio’s to their own reproduced ways. However, the food was so tasty that I couldn’t leave the need to share it with you alone. So without further adieu, let’s enter Romio’s Pizza and Pasta.
Romio’s Delicious Lasagna
I must admit, I don’t go out for Italian very often. But when I do, I want it to be at least close to as good as what I can make at home. But it seems like anytime that I order lasagna from a restaurant it inevitably tastes like crap. Take Olive Garden’s for example. It is single handedly the worst lasagna I’ve ever had. I’d much rather eat microwave Stouffer’s that that crap. Not so at Romio’s. Their lasagna is down right delicious. But what makes it different enough for me to say that?
For starters, Romio’s marinara sauce is quite good. It’s acidic and tastes of tomatoes, but is slightly sweet as well. It has a good balance of herbs and garlic, and is down-right tasty. This delicious sauce is layered into, and poured all over, the individually baked servings of lasagna. Second, the ground beef it is made with is perfectly seasoned with all the right tasty bits. Third, the ricotta incorporates a bit of Romio’s bechamel sauce, which is heavily seasoned with nutmeg. But there’s only a touch of bechamel mixed in, so you only get little hints of nutmeg to go with the creamy texture of the cheese. Lastly, the whole thing is covered with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and baked to a boiling hot golden brown. It is rather exceptional, especially for a franchise restaurant. It’s so good in fact that it’s hard for me to order anything else off their menu. It doesn’t really seem like a very authentic dish, but it is exactly what you wish your mother made on Sundays.
The lasagna is served with their house garlic bread, which is crispy on the outside, but soft and buttery on the inside. It has just the right amount of garlic so as to let you taste garlic without it leaving you fending off vampires.
The lunch serving includes a salad or cup of soup, the dinner portion does not. Romio’s house salad and ceasar salad are good, but nothing to write about. Their soup, however, is a completely different matter.
Romio’s Chicken Lemon Rice Soup
It is my understanding that the Boise Romio’s owners have added a few items to their menu that are not typical of other Romio’s franchises. I believe that Maria’s Chicken Lemon Rice Soup is one of those items. This stuff is quite tasty. It has a delicious strong chicken stock base, with the standard carrots (finely grated though which is nice), chunks of chicken, loads of rice, and a terrific strong lemon flavor. Fantastic! Next time I’m sick with the flu, I’m going to Romio’s and ordering a large bowl of this stuff to make me feel better.
We thought it’d be nice to try out one of Romio’s pizzas or calzones, so we ordered the Italian Calzone. Damn! This was probably about the best calzone I’ve had. The meatballs, which are made onsite, were fantastic. They were perfectly seasoned and had a great texture. In fact, all the calzone ingredients were perfect. Garlic Meatballs, fresh basil, big scoops of fresh ricotta cheese, gooey mozzarella, and that same delicious marinara sauce they put on the lasagna. They even gave a little side ramekin of marinara to enjoy. But the best part was the pizza dough. It had a perfect chew but was extremely soft. Seriously, some of the best pizza dough ever. If you want a great calzone, go to Romio’s. They’re $11, and worth every penny.
Other Pastas at Romio’s
Based on what I’ve tried at Romio’s, I’m guessing that most of their pasta dishes are well worth ordering. Their spaghetti and meatballs were good, and worth an order if you want something basic. The meatballs were very large, and quite tasty.
Romio’s special dish, “Pastitsio”, was something unlike anything else I’ve had. This thing caught our attention because it was on sale. We were a bit surprised by what it was. It sounded a lot like lasagna, but was a completely different animal. It consisted of macaroni that was layered with a thick bechamel sauce. Romio’s bechamel is loaded with nutmeg, but somehow is put together in such a way as to not be overpowering. The Pastitsio is covered in cheese, smothered in marinara sauce, and then baked until piping hot. It looks just like a stack of lasagna, but eats completely different. The smells were intoxicating, and the taste was surprisingly delicious.
But if you really want to go crazy, order the Baked Fettuccine Formaggi, otherwise known as “The Boat of Cheese.” Holy cow, this thing is not good for anyone’s heart, but what a treat for the mouth! The fettucccine was swimming in Romio’s alfredo sauce. Their alfredo is interesting. It is lighter than most alfredos, and has a lot of added dried basil to it. Normally, I would feel like adding dried herbs to an alfredo was sacraligious, however, in this dishes case, it worked rather well. The dish is covered in about a half pound of cheese, and then baked. It’s served with a few garlic meatballs and some garlic bread. It is certainly not anything close to authentic Italian, but who cares when it’s this belly-warming.
Baklava at Romio’s Pizza and Pasta
I love baklava. It is one of the best dessert creations ever invented. Romio’s version is pretty good, but falls a bit short. It is heavily spiced, and has plenty of sugar, but the whole nutty mess was a bit soggy and reminded me more of wet paste than a crispy crunchy baklava. However, if you’ve never enjoyed really fantastic baklava before, you’ll probably find Romio’s version very delicious.
The Bald Gourmet eats at Romio’s Pizza and Pasta and really enjoys the experience, but is disappointed to find that it is a franchise operation.
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