Caffe Roma has always been the heart of Commercial Drive for thousands of Vancouverites wanting to experience a little taste of Italy. For years it was the place to watch soccer, enjoy fine shots of espresso, and indulge in authentic Italian treats. When I saw it had been under renovation for the last four months I was skeptical as to what they could do to improve such a beloved place. Finally, they opened just in time for the World Cup and invited me in for a tasting of their new menu.
Caffe Roma & Lounge has been given a huge makeover by owner, Frank and co-owner Gino, who together with Delbert, a chef born and raised in Italy has turned the old Caffe Roma into a tapas bar and lounge. I urge you to check this place out next time you’re on The Drive! Delbert is really passionate about his craft and puts such detail into his food. You won’t leave disappointed. The new Caffe Roma might just be your new Saturday night hang out…
When we arrived, my boyfriend and I were seated at a nice table outside on the patio. A menu was pre-planned for us and we were treated to a glass of white wine. The chef explained the wine was from Northern Italy and helps to clean the palette. It also compliments the meal to come as it pairs well with meat, cheese, and salt.
To start we shared a charcuterie board of mixed cheeses and Italian meats. The sample was the perfect size and beautifully executed on a wooden cutting board. There were three samplings of meat and three samplings of cheese with honey and spicy jam. Everything was so fresh and flavourful I felt like I was back in Italy! With this we were also served a bruschetta board with thick, toasted Italian bread and three different dips. My favourite was the tapenade, as it was rich but not too heavy and unlike anything I have ever tried. Again this dish was well-executed and the details put in by the chef do not go unnoticed.
At this point in the meal, I am pretty full already but as soon as Delbert brings out the next dishes, I forget about that and cannot wait to see what else is in store for us! We tried the zucchini rolls – roasted zucchini, wrapped in prosciutto with smoked mozzarella, and house-made pesto. I don’t think I even need to describe how good these were as the ingredients speak for themselves. I had a smile on my face the whole night because I couldn’t believe, not only how fantastic the food was, but how I could tell the chef so loved what he was making.
After this we were served the arancini balls. My boyfriend ate the three little ones (I let him), and I ate the huge deep-fried, rice ball with meat sauce. The last time I had these famous Italian appetizers I was in Italy! This version was amazing and such a treat! I suggest ordering these on your visit – so authentic! To finish the meal, we were served risotto with lemon zest and prawns. Again, this dish was immaculately prepared and the flavours complimented each other so well. The prawns were large and the lemon on the risotto was unlike anything I’ve tried before! So unique. Just when I thought I couldn’t fit anything else into my stomach, Delbert insisted that we try the cannoli. I would have refused but then he said he made them 30 seconds ago.
My willpower isn’t that strong, folks. Made with ricotta, the cream was light and delicious and I love how little chocolate chips were put into the mix. Such a nice touch! The shell was fragile and crunchy, just how a cannoli should be!
My experience at Caffe Roma & Lounge was such an awesome one! I was blown away by the hospitality and kindness of both the chef and owner. The new lounge and patio is perfect for a hot summer night to enjoy a few, authentic Italian tapas and drinks. Ask to speak to the chef, who is more than happy to teach you all about his Italian cooking and ingredients. The care and passion put into his food will not go unnoticed! I can’t wait to go back in later months and see what Delbert has come up with next! Caffe Roma has always been an asset to Commercial Drive and now is the best time to check them out!
Written by: Micaela Monk