You know those pizzerias where you could almost be in Italy?
Where there’s vines creeping round the walls, and the wine is served in carafes, and the waiters pronounce everything with an ‘a’ on the end even though they’re probably from Gleadless or somewhere.
You know the ones I mean? Roma, a classy new cafetteria in Castle Street – nothing like that.
Sure it has murals of Rome and sure the open-plan kitchen has the air of authenticity, and sure the head chef is Mario Masia, a Sardinian who perfected his craft in his homeland before moving to the UK.
But Roma, see, has a full glass frontage looking out onto Castle House and Snig Hill. And – for better or worse – that little street scene could only ever be Sheffield.
When in Roma, you’re definitely still in the Steel City. Which is good, really. Because if you’re grabbing a lunch time bite, the thought of having to walk back to the office from northern Italy would definitely mean you rushed your food.
You’d probably skip dessert. And you really won’t want to do that.
That’s going to be the conclusion here. That the food is, basically, amazing – fresh and flavoursome and filling without being heavy.
Before we get to that though, let’s talk about that location some more.
Castle Street. In other words in the shadow of Castle Market. In other other words in the shadow of a building which, after 5pm today, will be but a monument to the past. Sort of similar to the Colosseum, if you like (which is also on a mural inside). Only, one imagines, a derelict Castle Market won’t quite attract the same footfall as the world’s biggest ancient amphitheatre.
Truly, it’s a brave restauranteur who opens up in this area of the city right now.
“If the food is good, people will come,” says Mario after we finish our meal. “And the food is good.” He’s right.
We start with peperoni ripieni con fonduta dolcelatte which is sweet pepper stuffed with Mediterranean vegetables, rice and mozzarella. It’s a main all on its own. Huge portion, delightfully served.
But really, we’re here for the pizza.
You can have this by the slice (from £2.30) or a full one to yourself. We both go for the latter – her for the piccante (tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, olives), me for the prosciutto and funghi (tomato, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms).
Pizza done well is a little portion of heaven, isn’t it? These were. Piping hot and stacked with topping on a thin base and a crispy crust. If you like pizza, you’ll love it. If you don’t...jeez, what’s wrong with you?
That left us full, frankly. Roma is a daytime only venture (7.30am-6pm, though it may extend into evenings if demand is there) and we were eating in a lunch hour.
Still, in the name of good journalism – we forced a coffee and a slice of lemon cake from the dessert display down.
Mario, who had his own restaurant in Surrey Street until 2005, is proud that they’re all gluten-free. We were more interested in how they tasted. Divine was the answer.
That’s Roma. Unusual location, perhaps, but well worth a visit. The bill came to £25.30.
My star rating out of 5
ADDRESS: Roma, 9-11 Castle Street, Sheffield, S3 8LT
PHONE: 07857 423210
WEBSITE: Roma Bar Sheffield