Saturday, April 21, 2007

Roma Italian Restaurant

2650 John Harden Dr
Jacksonville, AR 72076
(501) 982-8057

I was pleasantly surprised at lunch today. I heard of this place by word of mouth and was glad to confirm that it lives up to the recommendation. The smells as we walked in for lunch pretty much told us that it would.

I went to wash my hands and check out the restrooms, a good barometer of restaurant cleanliness. It was very clean and well stocked with towels and soap. When I came back there was a basket of wonderful homemade bread and a great big bowl of butter. The bread was warm and I nearly would have made a meal of it. Our waitperson brought us a bowl of olive oil with garlic in it. The garlic is fresh and not roasted like you get at the big chain places. Very nice.

We started with salad and the house Italian is an unusual tomato-basil vinegrette with a bold punch of flavor. My companions thought it a bit much and didn't eat all of theirs.

The lunch menu is well appointed with all of the classics including spaghetti and lasagna. The "sampler" has lasagna, rigatoni and spinach ravioli. It looked really good, but I didn't try any of the other's dishes. I had the eggplant stuffed with ricotta cheese and covered with marinara sauce and baked with mozzarella cheese on top. It was very good and the eggplant was tender and flavorful.

I suspect the red marinara sauce on everyone's dish comes from the same pot which tends to make lasagna taste like ravioli taste like... you get the idea.

All in all, a very postive experience and a departure from the cookie cutter Italian eateries at the shopping malls. We skipped dessert, but a couple of the items looked to be unique. Don't hesitate to try this place.


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