Okay, time to stop complaining: We finally have an Italian eatery downtown within a five-minute walk from my office, and it’s about time. If I eat any more Thai, I‘ll scream.
Café Roma has been open two weeks. It’s small in size – a handful of tables – but surprisingly big in menu with entrees, specials, panini, soups, gelato and salads. The counter is well designed and the ordering fast, so Café Roma looks like it will be a primo take-out spot for lunch in Capitol Park this spring.
The entrées, all $9 or less, include Chicken Parmigiana, assorted pastas with traditional meatballs and Marinara Sauce, Lasagna and Ravioli. There are also specials that change daily.
I didn’t see any eggplant, thank God, but I suppose somebody will try to sneak it in – after all, this is an Italian restaurant. On the day I visited, the crowd had eaten all the entrees – a good sign for a new restaurant – but there was plenty of Tomato Bisque and House Italian Wedding soups, both favorites of mine. I partake of both regularly at Nugget’s soup stand in Lakecrest off I-5 near Florin, but Café Roma’s are better – and cheaper.
I haven’t tried the entire menu, but I have had the sandwiches and soups, and both get two-thumbs up. Another Capitol Weekly reviewer will have to come in and give everybody the detailed skinny.
The sandwiches, around $6, are first rate, to Italy what La Bonne Soupe on 8th is to France. The bread is crisp, knurled and flavorful, the fillings deep. There’s the Italian Club Sub, the Tuscan Chicken, Turkey and Havarti, Mozzarella Tomato Pesto and Italian Grilled Cheese.
There’s even Sicilian Pizza, pizza with the puffy, thick crust and light toppings. Usually, I’m not a big fan of thick-crust pizza – you can take Chicago-style pizza and stuff it, thank you very much – but it works here because the crust is deep but light, flaky and bubbly like pastry crust. To get that texture, you have to bake it, fast, in a 600-degree oven and turn it just right. When I try this at home, I always seem to break my pizza stone.
By the way, for gelato-loving dessert eaters, there’s something called Affogato, which is espresso served over vanilla gelato.
1013 L Street
(Right across from the Capitol)
Hours: M-F, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(916) 316 3427