True confession: it has been several years since my wife and I were last at Roma Bistro and it was because of dance lessons, not the food.
We had a few tortillas as appetizers, but did not explore their diverse and intriguing menu. In the meantime, friends kept encouraging us, “You have to go there. The sopa de mariscos is to die for.”
Patricia and I came with an appetite and arrived before Latin dancing and karaoke starts. From Thursday to Saturday after 10 pm, Roma Bistro offers Latin dancing, salsa, and rumba and karaoke. On Fridays, there is mariachi dancing with two DJs. The dancing is free on Thursdays and Fridays. On Saturday there’s a $5 cover charge, and people can enjoy live music and music from DJs.
Arriving early gave us time to visit with hospitable owners and operators Maria Moy and Osvaldo Corsi, a wife and husband team. Moy has been in the restaurant business for most of her adult life. For the past 16 years, Moy and Corsi have been at this location.
“This is the only authentic Colombian food in town,” Moy said. But Colombia is only where their menu begins. It includes entrees from Chile to Peru to Mexico, and even offer some Italian pasta specialties.
“All the food is made fresh, nothing frozen,” Moy stated. You might expect to wait a little longer for your selection for this reason. Whether empanadas or tortillas, they make it when you order it.
Moy said business has been a little slow, but attributes it to the cold weather and the economy.
“We recently signed up with Skip the Dishes and that is helping. Orders are coming and they did an attractive website for us,” Moy said. “In the meantime, we pay the bills.”
Enough conversation and down to ordering. Patricia settles on ordering Mexican tacos with shrimp, chicken, and avocado accented with cilantro. I order the chicharron con yuca, which is pork and fried cassava root. The cassava root is lightly deep fried and has slightly more flavour than potato and, according to Moy, also nutrition. Everything was as fresh as Moy claimed it would be, including spices and seasoning.
The dessert menu was simpler but still left me conflicted: flan or banana flambé? I always choose flan at Latin American restaurants because it is consistently delicious and because every establishment has their own special recipe.
Moy is no exception. “We make ours with coconut milk, which gives a slightly lighter texture but more intense flavour.”
Very tempting, but at the last minute I defer to the banana flambé with chocolate sauce and rum lathered on ice cream and fried banana. Moy apologizes that the dessert is not actually flambeed. A fire marshall said they’d have to attend every table with a fire extinguisher!
A delicious choice, but that leaves me with the compulsion to go back and try the flan. I won’t wait nearly as long next time. I may even hang around until the Spanish karaoke to practice my Spanish.
Meal cost: $53 for an appetizer, two entrees with two alcoholic beverages, and dessert. Left stuffed as an empanada.
9737 118 Ave
Hours: Tues-Wed, 4-10 pm
Thu-Sat, 4 pm-2 am
Sun: 1-9 pm
Featured Image: Expect a fresh and tasty selection of food at Roma Bistro. | Aydan Dunnigan-Vickruck