Thursday, February 12, 2015

Making Our Maiden Voyage to La Palma

A'Roma Ristorante
30 Centerpointe Dr. #1 
La Palma, CA 90623

It feels pretty good to have taken one of my new years resolutions to heart. No, I'm not into dieting, or saving money, I made it my mission to have finally eaten in every OC city during the run of this blog. So far after five plus years of writing these restaurant reviews, we have managed to dodge the cities of La Palma and Seal Beach.

I have a pretty good list of places to hit up in Seal Beach, but La Palma was trickier. At first I thought that the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop was in La Palma, but it's just near La Palma Avenue in Anaheim. So I had to do a little more research, which brought us to A'Roma Ristorante.

We were going to be meeting our good friends Sabrina and Anthony on this night, to celebrate getting through the craziness of the holiday season. We hadn't seen them in a awhile, and it worked out, as their parents live near here. Before heading up the 5 Freeway from our house, I had made reservations, which is a good thing because they were pretty packed when we rolled in at 6pm on a recent Saturday.

A'Roma is located near the intersection of Valley View and Orangethorpe, right across the street from Marie Callender's and Habit Burger. Not sure how long they have been in business, but their first Yelp review dates from 2007, and there's no mention that this is a new restaurant. Owned by the Ferrari family, this 20 table restaurant has an older customer base, but the atmosphere was still lively. One side of the restaurant was dedicated to the bar, and the other side the dining room. Their website touts that they want their customers to experience, "real Italian cooking," so I was very excited to see what they would deliver to our table. Let's check it out.

As is our custom, we always like to show you  the bread service before the meal. Here they gave us Toasted Focaccia with a Mascarpone Spread. I was not too into this spread that they brought out, but everyone else liked it. It was a little too much like cream cheese to me. The marinara portion of this was good, but I did not enjoy the mascarpone part. I ate the toasted bread on its own, and it was fine.

We were all pretty hungry, so we decided we'd all split an appetizer. Our choice was the Mozzarella Marinara ($10.50). This fried cheese was breaded, and topped with marinara and some Parmesan cheese. This was a pretty good version of this dish. Not overly greasy, and made with some pretty good quality mozzarella cheese. We were happy that this came four to an order for the four of us, because that way Sabrina would not try to hog more than her fair share.

Dinners at A'Roma come with this House Salad. It looked pretty basic to me, but I like the fact that dinners come with a salad. Fresh greens, shaved carrots, tomatoes, and a few olives are all dressed with a house Italian vinaigrette. No complaints from anyone about this salad either.

Another thing I really liked about the menu at A'Roma was that they offered to upgrade your salad for an extra $2. You have your choice of a cup of soup, a Greek Salad, or this very good Caesar Salad, which I went with. There was plenty of asiago cheese, house made croutons, and dressing on this salad. One of the better ones I have had recently.

The entrees started to make their way out for us, and Katie's hit the table first. She had the Chicken Scarpariello ($20.50). With this plate the chicken breast was served with a well made lemon-garlic butter sauce and sliced mushrooms. Katie liked this plate. The chicken was tender, and there were plenty of mushrooms included. The pasta and vegetables were well done also.

Anthony went for the Cannelloni Fiorentina ($19.50). This looked real good from where I was sitting. I'm not sure why I never get cannelloni, but I'm going to get one the next time I'm in an Italian joint. This one was filled with ground beef, pork, veal, cheese and spinach, then topped with a Bolognese meat sauce and a little bechamel sauce. I did not get a chance to try this dish, but Anthony thought it was good, but not great. He thought it was going to be a little more flavorful with all of the meats in there. He did enjoy the Bolognese sauce though.

The last few times we have been out with Sabrina, she has gotten a similar dish to the one she had this night, the Capellini Alla Checca ($16). At A'Roma they use an angel hair pasta as the base for this dish, then toss it with olive oil, Roma tomatoes, garlic, basil, and herbs. Sabrina liked this dish, but wished that it had a little more pop of flavor. She did finish it though, and we will probably see her order something similar the next time we go out with her.

I've been in the mood for veal for awhile now, and when I saw this Veal Saltimbocca Alla Romana ($28), I jumped at the chance to order it. The veal is served with a brown demi-glace sauce with herbs and a little white wine, then topped with mozzarella and prosciutto. This version was good, not great. The veal was not as tender as veal should be, and the cheese was not as pronounced as I would have liked it. The sauce, along with the very good prosciutto saved this dish for me. This came served with fusilli aurora and sauteed vegetables, which were both cooked well, and helped round out this meal.

A'Roma was good, but did not really blow any of us away with what we had on this evening. If we lived closer, we would definitely have this restaurant in our rotation though. With so many options on their menu, it would not be easy to tire of their food. Their prices might be a tad too high for the amount of food that you get, but they do seem to use high quality ingredients here. Service was pretty good, for how busy they were, and the food did make it out of the kitchen in a very timely manner. Glad we finally had the chance to dine in La Palma, and we will definitely be back to see what else the city has to offer. Now to make plans to head out to Seal Beach.

Out of five dairy cows, (because La Palma was originally incorporated as Dairyland in 1955, and only changed their name when the dairies moved east in the 60's), five being best to zero being worst, A'Roma Ristorante gets 3 dairy cows.

For more information about A'Roma Ristorante, go to their website here:

A'Roma Ristorante on Urbanspoon

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