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Roman Cucina Restaurant Review

Article Type: ItalianRestaurant Review
Submitted by: warren -- Wed, 2005-04-27 21:35
There are a surprising number of Italian restaurants in downtown Fullerton (at least five), but it just so happens that the newest and closest (being located directly across the street from my home) is also my favorite: Roman Cucina. Though the menu isn’t huge, the items within it are top-notch, and the atmosphere both classy and homey at the same time.

The menu consists (mostly) of lots of pasta dishes, and you can order things the way you like them. The pasta “items” start with you picking an entrée by sauce, such as alfredo, pesto, or (my favorite) rosa. Each entrée can be had with one of three pastas, such as fettuccine, penne, or linguine. You can also add a meat selection, such as beef milanese (which tastes like veal to me), chicken parmesan, etc., to any entrée. I didn’t do the math, but there must be at least 100 possible pasta dish combinations. Entrées come with a choice of Italian dinner salad or Italian wedding soup.

I myself normally get Rosa Penne with Beef  Milanese, which is so good I usually get goose bumps because it is so reminiscent of my Grandma’s. My wife usually gets the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken. Both sauces are creamy and rich and full of big flavor. All the pasta forms are consistently magical: never being too firm or mushy, and tasting fresh. The wedding soup is a little heavy on the cabbage and light on the meatballs for my taste, but it is full of hearty flavor without resorting to excess salt. The menu also has a number of sandwiches, appetizers that are really mini-entrées of their own, and perhaps the best meatless lasagna west of the Mississippi river. Diners in the mood for pizza will be disappointed, however; there isn’t any. I don’t consider this a problem, but I have friends who do.

Roman Cucina’s bar is something of a novelty for downtown Fullerton, in that it is actually a great place to just sit and enjoy martini without getting hit on by scantily-clad members of the opposite sex (and boy, what a big problem that is). This is no meat-market, so it’s safe to meet a (blind) date here. This is also a fine place to wait for table, listen to a great mix of 80’s, 90’s, and classic-50’s Sinatra-esque “Italian” music, and watch some TV on the large plasma screen. Martinis are only $5 on Wednesday, which is quite the deal.

If there is a negative to Roman Cucina, it is only that the service can be, shall we say, a little too relaxed at times. If you’re looking for a long dinner for a relaxing date, this is definitely the place, but if you’re in any sort of a rush, you’d better tell your server that you need to get out the door in a hurry. I’ve seen this attributed to inexperienced wait-staff, but I don’t think this is the case for three reasons: 1) my orders are always correct, 2) everyone is knowledgeable and friendly, and 3) there’s a second location in Sunset Beach, so the owner should know how to hire qualified servers. I’m going to assume the waiting is intentional.

Highs: Wonderful atmosphere, great martinis, and the second-best pasta dishes I’ve ever had (after Grandma’s, of course).
Lows: Service can be a little slow at times. No pizza on the menu.
Bottom Line: Fullerton’s best “classic” Italian restaurant if you don’t want pizza.
Roman Cucina, 211 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92832. 714-680-6000.


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