Eat as the Romans do
Roma's Pizza & Pasta
Roma’s Pizza & Pasta is the fourth restaurant in the region opened by the Guerrera family. Originally from Carlantino, Italy, the family first opened Roma’s Pizzeria on Franklin Boulevard in 1973, then Roma II Pizzeria on Folsom Boulevard in 1981, and Roma’s Pizzeria III in the city of Folsom in 1994. After 16 years at that location, it moved to Carmichael in 2010 and became Roma’s Pizza & Pasta.
The eatery claims to serve “authentic Italian-style” food, but that’s only partially true in terms of its pizza. That’s because it actually serves two types: a standard American-style pizza with a doughy crust, and another one—which happens to be gluten-free—with a thinner crust, resembling a pie you might actually find in Italy.
On one recent visit, I ordered a regular-crust pizza with pepperoni and jalapeños. The standard crust is the unusually thick kind you might expect on any American-style pie—chewy, but ultimately lacking in flavor. However, the tomato sauce made up for the dough, giving it a nice spicy kick. This restaurant also doesn’t skimp on the toppings. In particular, the copious piling on the Giuseppe Special (tomato-based red sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, salami, pepperoni, sausage, olives, linguica, beef and green peppers) and the Healthy Pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella, diced tomatoes, garlic, artichoke, olive oil and oregano) helped soften the otherwise tough dough.
On a subsequent visit I tried the gluten-free pizza and was impressed by the dough. It’s similar to a Neapolitan pizza crust from Italy: incredibly thin and crispy like a cracker. It’s a lot lighter, and I almost finished my entire small artichoke-pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza in one sitting. This was by far the superior crust.
While not all Roma’s pies qualify as “authentic Italian-style,” its pasta does. It sticks to traditional dishes: spaghetti with various sauce options, lasagna, several stuffed pasta dishes and a baked cannelloni. During a pair of recent visits, I sampled both baked pasta dishes: the lasagna and the Cannelloni Veneziani Al Forno (baked cannelloni stuffed with meat, eggs, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses). Both excelled in their simplicity, and the inclusion of egg in each dish reminded me of carbonara—a popular Roman egg-based pasta dish that I once ate in Italy about 10 years ago. The cannelloni also paired well with a glass of Chianti (Roma’s has a handful of wines, all priced at less than $20 per bottle, and the Peroni beer on draft is good with pizza, as well).
I made it a point to stop by for a few lunch specials, too. Served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday, it’s $8.25 for a baked hot sandwich, plus a soup or salad. I tried the meatball sandwich (mozzarella, meatballs and red sauce) with a house-made minestrone soup, and a sub sandwich (salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, mozzarella and red sauce) with a Caesar salad. The meatball sandwich came out a bit plain, with very large, bready meatballs contributing to an overall lack of flavor. On the other hand, the sub sandwich’s flavor is well-balanced, if not a bit decadent with its trio of spicy meats, melted cheese and marinara sauce. I’d recommend the hearty and slightly spicy house-made minestrone over the uninspiring Caesar salad.
Other notes: The several times I ate at Roma’s, it was either extremely busy or extremely quiet. One time, there was what seemed like an entire youth soccer league filling the restaurant. The three other times I visited, I was one of the only customers in the restaurant. Nevertheless, servers were kind, and service was prompt on all visits. Overall, it’s a nice spot to have in the neighborhood to grab a quick sandwich, pasta dish or gluten-free pizza (a vegan pizza option is available, too).