REVIEW: Roma, Mary Street, Sunderland

When in Roma - you can expect a warm welcome whatever the weather.

Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 2:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th February 2016, 2:45 pm
Roma restaurant, Mary Street, Sunderland

On a nippy February evening, the warm glow of this chirpy Italian restaurant greeted us with open arms.

It’s a consistent charm that’s helped to make Roma perennially popular with those after a classic Italian dish.

Parma ham and mozzarella starter

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Inside, the colour palette of rich reds and terracotta and wine bottles-turned-ornaments, coupled with exposed brickwork, is reminiscent of a friendly Italian you could have stumbled across in the back streets of Rome.

And the menu is as you would expect from a restaurant of that ilk. All the usual Italian suspects are there: pizza, pasta, risottos, chicken and steak dishes. The inclusion of fajitas from Mexico seems a little incongruous but, what the heck, this is an informal place for an informal night out.

Visit during happy hour, which runs every day from noon to 7pm, and you can pick up bargain options, with starters priced at £3.95 and pizzas and pastas for £5.95.

You can pick ‘n’ mix though and I chose a starter from the a la carte menu - mozzarella wrapped in Parma ham (£5.95), which was served as two melt-in-the-mouth parcels of tightly-packed flavour.

Parma ham and mozzarella starter

For mains I chose a happy hour steak, which you can pick up for less than a tenner.

The pepe version comes as a huge fillet steak which was smothered in a rich sauce of mustard, peppercorn, cream and brandy. It would have been preferable to have the sauce served separately so you can flavour as you go, but you certainly can’t quibble about the price and size, which also includes a side portion of chips or vegetables.

Hats off to the staff, you’ll be hard pushed to find a friendlier bunch in the city.

In a city awash with Italian restaurants, Roma’s reputation wasn’t built in a day, but you can see what keeps people coming back for more.