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Food review by Joshua Maloni
It's a Friday night and, despite the numerous best pizza and chicken wings awards on the walls of Roman Café, a hungry gaggle of people has one thing in mind: fish. The North Tonawanda restaurant is offering no less than one dozen deep-sea delights, including beer-battered haddock, haddock almandine, Cajun haddock, shrimp, scallops and clam strips.
Now, we've all been told it's quality, and not quantity, that matters most in fine dining. Like my guests, I notice the Roman Café's big portions, friendly staff and pleasant décor - all good signs the meal will be worth the drive to Payne Avenue.
I order the haddock parmesan ($10.95), which is breaded and deep-fried, covered in tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese. The generous portion of fish is light and crispy, and accompanied by the best cole slaw yours truly has ever consumed. Technically, it's the first cole slaw that's ever made it past one forkful and a frowny face.
Roman Café's signature slaw is made with Italian dressing and sliced onion. This revolutionary concoction is both delicious and distracting. I want to eat my fish, but this strange new vegetable dish is demanding my time (and fork loads).
The side spaghetti is great, too. That's high praise from someone who generally discourages pizzamakers from toying with "Big Boy" Italian dishes. Like the fish, the spaghetti is light. Good thing, as it comes in a never-ending bowl.
Of course the main event is the fish. Ever since my college days and a particular dinner meeting at another Italian eatery, I've preferred this type of haddock dish. Roman Café's version is big, crispy on the outside and plump inside. The cheese is gooey and delightful, and the sauce isn't overpowering, and nicely complements the fish.
I think my haddock dish deserves a trophy of its own, and a spot on the award wall at Roman Café. But don't just take my word for it. Click the link below for more.