REVIEW: La Roma
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Scene Writer
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
No one ever could question the passion Souhaila and Rafat “R.J.” Azar put into their food, nor their love for all people who came through the doors at La Roma Gourmet Pizza and Mediterranean Cuisine.
The Lebanese-born couple worked side-by-side for nine years in their Brookside bakery and 18 years at La Roma before R.J. died almost four years ago.
But, to the delight of many, La Roma has carried on with its mix of Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
“We both can cook everything, but my mother still does most of the Lebanese cooking,” said the couple's daughter, Katia.
We sampled a bit of both cultures on a recent visit, going for a medium veggie pizza ($15.20), a shaworma platter ($7.95), a gyros platter ($7.95), two cabbage rolls ($3.50 each) and tabouli ($3.50).
Onions, green peppers, black olives, mushrooms, tomatoes and garlic blended well with the fresh mozzarella cheese on the veggie pizza baked on a medium-crispy crust. It was larger than expected and provided lunch the next day.
The shaworma featured thin-sliced seasoned beef topped with onions, tomato, parsley and a thick, fragrant tahini sauce made from ground sesame seeds. This always has been a personal favorite at La Roma.
On the gyros platter, a thick mound of seasoned beef was topped with pickles and a flavorful tzatziki sauce based on yogurt, cucumber and garlic.
The platters come with hummus, a cabbage salad and pita bread. The smooth hummus, sprinkled with cayenne, was delicious.
We later learned La Roma doesn’t get its garbanzo beans for the hummus out of a can. The cooks soak the dry beans overnight, then boil and mash them by hand.
The lemony tabouli was heavy on parsley with bits of cracked wheat, tomato and onion, and the cabbage rolls were thick with ground beef and rice in a tomato sauce.
Both of our entrees also are available as sandwiches. Other popular dishes at La Roma include tawook (garlic chicken), falafel (the chickpea patties here are more moist than most and are garnished with fresh mint), kafta (a ground beef dish), meat pies, spaghetti and lasagna.
If baklava is on the dessert tray, don’t miss it. The honey-dripped dessert in flaky, butter-drenched phyllo dough is a decadent way to end a dinner.
Read more of this review in Thursday's Weekend magazine or online at tulsaworld.com/food. Find all of Scott Cherry's reviews at tulsaworld.com/cherrypicks.
A La Roma supreme pizza. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World