I enjoy Italian food… a lot. Rich melted cheeses, lasagna, pasta, red sauce and meatballs- what’s not to like? I had never heard of Roman Bistro on Ardmore Boulevard until today- apparently I’ve been out of the Italian restaurant food-loop for quite some time.
Roma Bistro is a large restaurant, with a seating capacity of 150. Upon entry you can’t help but notice the large bar stretches half the length of the front eating area. Another, more private dining area is located past the bar, ideal for private gatherings.
The décor at the Bistro is understated modern-Italian. Large oversized tiles decorated the floors, and real linen napkins are used on the tables- snazzy. The walls are clean, with minimal paintings, decorations, etc.
We sat in a large booth next to the bar, a location that enabled us to keep an eye on things in the dining room. Several large flat-screen TVs were hung throughout the facility; the owners must be sports fans. Outside seating is available during the summer months.
A few moments after our drink orders were taken, our waitress served us large slices of doughy Italian bread and sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade. The fluffy bread sopped up the rich mixture and creamy olive oil. Delicious.
I started with a house salad and blue cheese dressing. The mixed greens were fresh, bitter, and sweet- a nice combination. Yellow tomatoes, pickled yellow and red beets, shaved Parmesan cheese and red onions completed the flavorful mixture.
For dinner I ordered an arugula and prosciutto pizza; my dinner companions chose the baked lasagna, and cod sandwich- sans bun.
The pizza arrived in a non-traditional elongated rectangular shape. The six-sliced pie looked appetizing. In addition to the arugula and prosciutto, the surface was adorned with slices of Roma tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. As I took a bite of the pie I noticed that the crust was chewy, hard, and raw on top. The dough itself lacked flavor and composition- it didn’t resemble any pizza dough I had ever had. Luckily, the toppings were enjoyable- especially the spicy arugula.
The breaded cod was properly seasoned and cooked. It came with sliced tomatoes, lemon, homemade coleslaw and tartar sauce. The fish was fresh and flaky- we were served such a large portion that we ended up taking most of it home.
The lasagna was prepared differently. Two large strands of pasta were boiled, stuffed, and baked with sauce and cheese. The sauce was tasty, and fresh. The filling was equally as good, but unfortunately the rolled pasta that wasn’t sauced was hard and unpalatable.
We shared some silky-smooth salted caramel ice cream for dessert with fresh cream and raspberries.
Roman Bistro is a quaint, family restaurant in a prime location. With a few menu tweaks, and an improvement in basic cooking techniques, Roman Bistro could become on of Pittsburgh’s premier Italian restaurants.
Chef Chuck Kerber