Roma: Mary Street: Sunderland

Roma restaurant, Mary Street, Sunderland
Roma restaurant, Mary Street, Sunderland
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I always like discovering a new favourite restaurant – and that’s exactly what I found when I visited Roma.

The quaint venue is typical of traditional Italian eateries with its red paint and wine bottles adorning the walls.

I always try and claim a cosy table tucked out of the way – I think because of my love of people watching- and in Roma nearly all of the tables are positioned against the walls so everyone has their privacy and no one is sitting on top of each other.

Once the very helpful waiter had seated our party of three at a table in the corner, we were offered a choice of two menus – the a la carte menu, and the happy hour menu.

Firstly we opted for a bottle of house white wine (£11.95) and a bowl of mixed olives (£1.95) to nibble and sip while we pored over the rest of the menu.

They got us off to great start, then we were brought some complimentary warm bread, and before long we started to feel we could actually be in Rome as we took in the tempting smells and heard the strains of music.

After examining the list of dishes, I decided on two happy hour options for my meal.

I picked garlic bread (£2.95) to start, and decided to be slightly awkward and request it with half a tomato base, and half cheese.

When it arrived it was more than enough for one person, and after I’d already had the bread and olives, it was enough for three.

It was delicious and disappeared in minutes.

As soon as the plates had been cleared away the attentive waiter asked if we were ready for our main courses.

Unusually I picked a creamy pasta – it being a weekend I thought I would indulge – and it was definitely a good choice.

I ordered the penne alla crema (£4.95) with ham, mushrooms, cream and black pepper and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a plate of pasta as much in ages – sparks practically flew off my fork and spoon as I ate it in no time.

My fellow diners chose a classic penne arrabiatta (£4.95) and tagliatelle montanara (£9.95) from the a la carte menu.

The penne arrabiatta was proclaimed a hit as the sauce was not too hot, and the tagliatelle montara a new favourite.

The dish is a mix of mushrooms and garlic, with four whopping king prawns to top it off, and a glossy tomato sauce, with the slightest touch of cream.

The two menus also offer a selection of meat, fish, and poultry dishes.

On a budget the a la carte menu prices are perhaps a bit steep, but a good selection of dishes make up the happy hour menu, which runs from 5pm to 7pm seven days a week.

Monica Turnbull