REVIEW: Roma, Mary Street, Sunderland

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If ever there was a time to dust off the old “service with a smile” cliché it’s at Roma.

Cheery service abounds here and it’s probably why this little Italian restaurant is one of the most popular in the city.

The interiors are what you would expect from an eatery of this ilk: all nick nacks and low-lit lighting.

But it really is a charming little place and one where you can’t help but feel welcome.

Don’t expect anything too out of the ordinary from the menu, but if you’re after quality Italian stodge at reasonable prices you can’t really go wrong with Roma.

We were too late for Happy Hour – which offers bargain meals such as steak for under a tenner from 5pm to 7pm every night – but the a la carte menu still won’t break the bank.

I had the halloumi to start (£5.45).

Not too rubbery, not too greasy, it had been prepared perfectly and I got four large slabs for the price. This Cypriot cheese doesn’t usually feature on Italian menus, but I wasn’t complaining. It was a cheese feast. And a prettily-presented one at that.

I went with an Italian classic for my main – when in Roma and all that.

Soon after ordering – service is swift as well as polite and friendly here – a Parma pizza (£8.95) was winging its way to my table.

All too often restaurants skimp on Parma ham, but this was laden with slithers of the stuff, along with fresh, peppery rocket. The base was just right too.

My only quibble – and it’s a slight one – was that the finished pizza seemed to have had olive oil added on top. The flavours were so fresh and rich on their own, I don’t think it needed it.

Other mains include risottos, steak, chicken and fish dishes. Fajitas seemed a little incongruous on an Italian menu but I’ve been informed they’re a great choice from a Roma regular.

Katy Wheeler