For me, the Roman Empire Bar Restaurant is another blast from the past. When I used to live in Carindale, it was literally just down the road. Nowadays, I'm rarely in that part of town but it's somewhere I like to visit if I get the chance.
I don't pretend to be an expert in pasta but I can broadly classify pasta I taste into 3 categories: 'great', 'ok' and 'microwaved'. Pasta that tastes microwaved are the type you'd get from pizza stores where they just throw a frozen pasta into the pizza oven. 'Ok' pasta is passable but makes me think I can make an equally good, if not better pasta myself at home.
'Great' pasta is what we're all after. I like the slightly rustic taste of home-made pasta and sauces that are simple and fresh but taste more multi-dimensional than 'creamy' or 'tomatoey'.
A long, long time ago, I went to Roman Empire and tried 2 of their pasta dishes. I remembered the pasta to be exceptional and was excited to return there this week.
Roman Empire offers a range of pasta and pizza, plus other mains (steak, seafood etc) and light meals (sandwiches, burgers, salads and wraps). With the pasta, you can chose to have an entree size or main size. Charlie and I ordered a pasta and pizza dish to share, plus a coffee frappe. The dining space is open and comfortable. I thought the staff were also very friendly.
Our coffee frappe arrived first in a fancy cocktail glass. This is a 'genuine' coffee frappe made from espresso and blended ice, as opposed to sweet coffee sauce. Don't expect it to be decadent and dessert-like but it's great if you want coffee, only cold. Charlie commented that 'Iced Latte' in other cafes don't really taste like latte at all, rather just a cold milk-shake with a bit of coffee flavoring. He thought that this coffee frappe had a bit of a latte vibe to it.
We didn't have to wait very long at all for our food (always a good thing when your tummy is grumbling).
Sand crab cannelloni: filled with sand crab meat & ricotta, served with a Napoli sauce, sauteed with sundried tomato, zucchini, and capsicum, topped with a garlic cream sauce
The pasta dish we chose was a sand crab cannelloni. We ordered the main size so my initial thought was that the serving seemed somewhat small. However, we were still full at the end of our meal so it worked out well. The cannelloni was very flavorsome. It didn't seem oily or greasy and had a lot of veggies so I'd call this a healthy dish. I prefer a white sauce to a Napoli sauce but that's a personal preference.
The Mafiuso pizza: pepperoni, Italian sausage, Gorgonzola cheese, mozzarella cheese, chili & caramelized onion
Although I prefer thinner bases on pizza, I thought ours was delicious. We chose the 'mafiuso' which was a perfect blend of Italian sausage, onion and Gorgonzola cheese. The gorgonzola really gave it an extra oomph and I didn't expect it would work so well on a pizza. Now, it's something I can't wait to try at home!
My recent experience at the Roman Empire Bar Restaurant is another good one. I also discovered that they have buy-1-get-1-free mains every Monday so I'm kicking myself over the fact that I live so far away.
Charlie is adamant this is Lee Matthews eating a few tables from us. If you're wondering, he appears to be having a toasted sandwich and coffee.