Roma Market, Pasadena -Great!!!!
If you are a transplant from the East Coast, like I am, and miss the atmosphere and aroma of the east coast Italian market, a visit here is a must. I've been to several Italian Markets out here and they are great on quantity of items, but too neat!!!! My favorite italian markets back east had stuff crammed in every corner - so does this place!
I can't say they have a vast selection in terms of different brands of the same items like some markets I've been too. They do have quite a large selection of imported pasta in all shapes and sizes. They also have a good selection of produce.
The best part was the owner. I got some cold cuts from the deli (small deli counter, but everything I got was the best quality). Everything I asked for, he gave me a taste of before hand (great mortadella, capicola, salami, proscuitto from I think he said bologna that is incredible, it isn't salty like others I've had). He said he has over 70 different kinds of cheese! I got a chunk of a 10 year aged provolone that is delicious!!!! Got a nice wedge of parm. reggiano too that was alot less expensive than other places.
Great rolls and bread too, he says they are baked 7 days a week. On weekends, the loaf of bread I got is made with olive oil, but only on weekends. I'll definitely have to get back and pick up one!
It was easy to spot going down Lake, it is on the corner in a small strip mall.
918 N Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91104
I'm glad that you liked Roma's - I love their deli people and have been extremely pleased with the service and the food. The proscuitto I purchased a couple of weeks ago barely made it home - had to rip open the package to "taste" it a few times. I concur, too, on the breads and rolls. It's a wonderful establishment.
I love this place too. The owner always suggests which olive oil, which pasta etc. to get when I describe what I'm making. And he made a big point of telling me that his prosciutto is NOT prosciutto, it is something like prosciutto but MUCH, MUCH better! (and he is right!)
His sausage is easily the best in the area - I like Claro's OK, but his is both better and cheaper, so why bother? I asked him a few weeks back if he makes it himself, and he bridled a bit and said, "More than fifty years!" I'm still trying to find a good excuse to by some of his mortadella after he handed me a paper-thin slice some time ago, when he was cutting it for another customer and I was waiting my turn. Mortadella is most emphatically NOT on my diet, but the way that wisp of it melted on my tongue and spread richness and wonder all through my mouth still makes me kinda buckle at the knees.
In herb-growing weather he has fresh basil, too, which entirely too many people know about. I managed to score enough last year for one big batch of pesto.
I've been a big fan of Roma's for 5-6 years now but I should warn that the owner can be a bit of a "soup nazi". Everything will be fine as long as you enter knowing all of your purchases (which cheeses, meats, etc) will be very much on his terms and not yours. He can be touchy if you go against one of his recommendations.
Also, watch the sell-by dates on any perishables there.
That said, I go regularly and you can't beat the prices.
Thanks for the report.
I sent my hubbie over a month or so ago - got some proscuitto, pancetta and fontina. The proscuitto didn't last long as it was so good I polished it off at no time - best in US I've tried so far. They are nothing like the prepackaged ultra soft and fatty types. A touch drier and more flavorful, rather like the ones at good restaurants in Italy. Loved it.
Finally used the pancetta for carbonara last night. Another winner! I've tried the ones from Claro and Bristol Farms and this one came closest to the taste of carbonara I wanted to replicate.
Lastly the fontina was great. My hubbie was looking for a cheese that will goes well with the truffle honey we got while at Asiago and the shop owner recommended this one. So even if the shop owner is opinionated, I'll say trust his opinions!
So now my hubbie has to do the Italian deli and Bulgarini Gelato run one of these days again.
Nothing but kudos from me as well for Rosario and the charming lady who works the cash register. Their prices for meats, cheeses, etc. are unbelievably low. We're addicted to their imported pasta in all these interesting, unusual shapes. No comparison in taste to supermarket pasta. I let Rosario tell me what olive oil, balsamic, etc. I want. Like an Irish girl would know better?! Enjoy.
You just reminded me of the time I brought some canned goods - I can't even remember what it was, cannelini or tomatoes or what - up to the register. Rosario was taking a break there, and when he saw what I'd chosen he practically yanked it out of my hands. "No, no, no," he said, "you don't want that kind! Here, I show you," and he led me to his favored brand. I have no idea if his choice WAS better, but it was certainly good.
And I did finally break down and get a half-pound of the mortadella, after which Mrs. O and I happily broke our diets all to flinders for two or three lunches in a row. Mmmm, heaven!
re: Will Owen
For our Wine Club dinner to go with Italian wines, I was cooking Italian from Molto Mario. When I went in Roma Market, I asked for the special brand of anchovies. Rosario (is that the name of the older gentleman behind the deli?) said to the lady at the cash counter "This guy (referring to Mario) is giving the right directions for Italian food!". I could not help smile at that. The brand is called Agostino Recca and he had quite a bit. I love these anchovies, specially in a simple pasta with roma tomatoes and whole garlic.
I also needed cheeses and prosciutto and parma ham - he decided to give me alternatives, saying his suggestions were all better. I don't have a way to compare, but his passion for the ingredients was enough to let me be swayed. He gave samplings of all the meats - so that was great.
I did not check out his pastas. Next time I will remember to do so.