Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Caffe Roma

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I had to drop Regina off at the airport last week so we figured we’d try someplace on the west side for lunch. We had driven past Caffe Roma a few times and weren’t quite sure what it was all about.

If it’s one of those places that is a bit of a mystery due to just opening, to lack of grapevine info, or not having a website, we’ll generally test drive it at lunch. The strategy has seemed to have worked pretty well because the time and money investment is lower than dinner.

Located at the intersection of West 130th and Lorain, Caffe Roma occupies the end unit of an old shopping strip. There is parking around the back and on the two side streets that straddle the block wide shopping strip.

As you walk inside you notice that the décor is fairly spartan. Sicilian and Italian National football team photos and Italian artwork adorn the walls. The acoustics aren’t particularly inviting nor is the draftiness of the space, but the regulars who were eating there didn’t seem to mind much.

Looking at the menu one thing really stands out – lack of lighter options. There is no antipast0, fresh veggies, or grilled anything. The lion’s share of the menu is either deep fried, pasta, Italian Sausage, or Sicilian style pizza. When asked if there were any veggies, our very accommodating server told us that she could give us a side of the peppers and onions that they use for the Italian Sausage.

I like pizza, but Sicilian is my least favorite kind. I just don’t like the doughy heaviness of that particular crust. It seems like 80% of a single piece is bread.

If Caffe Roma does anything well, it’s Sicilian Pizza. With the ability to order by the slice, which is cool, I ordered a slice of pepperoni and one with sausage.

Fresh out of the oven, the crust had the hallmark thick Sicilian crust. I thought to myself, “Oh boy, here’s another heavy piece of pizza.” But when I bit into it, the crust was actually really crispy and airy. If you come here I would try the pizza. It’s actually pretty good.

Desserts consist of gelato from La Gelateria, assorted Bindi offerings, as well as house made tiramisu. Since it was lunch we decided to skip the dessert.

They don't have a liquor license, so needless to say - no vino. One thing that does suck is Ohio's lack of a BYO law that legally permits you to bring your own wine. Perhaps you might call ahead and see if they'll let you bring some on the sly.

I can’t say that it’s anything that really reminded me of Rome, per se (maybe Caffe Palermo). I do think the very reasonable prices and down-to-earth service fill a niche in the surrounding West Park neighborhood.

Caffe Roma
13000 Lorain Ave
Cleveland, OH 44111
(216) 889-9999

Caffe Roma on Urbanspoon


  1. Hmmm I thought there was a BYO law in Ohio? I remember a few years back when Opa! was open on West 25th, we would bring in bottles of wine bought at Dave's Supermarket for our dinners. Perhaps that's changed...

  2. We have brought bottles of wine to Cafe Roma a number of times, they bring glasses and a wine opener. There is no law prohibiting such a service in Ohio.

  3. Who am I to argue? If you say that's what you've done then that's fine by me. I find it very strange that BYO is not widely advertised in Cleveland, as it is wildly popular in Philly. Thanks for the info.

  4. BYOB is widely popular in Philadelphia, because believe or not PA state laws are worse than Ohio's. The state controls all liquor and wine sales, thus no discount to restaurants.

  5. I was having this discussion just last week while we were eating at Pranzo! in Willoughby. They do not have a liquor license and direct people to a restaurant a few doors down across the street for beer or wine. I guess I'd like to just see the state tidy up the laws and make it legally permissible.

  6. Just an update, they received their liquor license last month (July 2010). They had BYOB before that (I think with a modest corkage fee). Thanks for the review! We've been there twice before and really enjoyed it. The cavatelli is delish and the gelato rocks. Definitely have to be in the mood for a heavier meal, though. Definitely old-school Italian and not Northern Italian.