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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Roam Cafe, Park Ave.

NOTE: Roam Cafe's ownership changed after this review was written. Pizza remains on the menu, but until I go back I don't know if the pizza has significantly changed from what is described here.
Roam Cafe on Park Avenue, which sells espresso on one side and motor scooters on the other, is not someplace I would’ve thought of for pizza until I saw it mentioned on this forum, where one poster declared that Roam has “the best pizza.” Now people say a lot of things on forums (one person on there wrote that I have "no clue" what I'm talking about, so obviously some of their opinions cannot be trusted), but a check of Roam CafĂ©’s Facebook page showed that it does indeed offer a Margherita pizza, along with a “house” pizza and a breakfast pizza.
So I figured, it’s not exactly a pizzeria, but who knows? Maybe Roam is some uber-hip, Euro kind of place turning out authentic artisanal pizzas that are the best thing this side of Naples. It is on Park Avenue, after all. Then again, maybe Roam is just a motor scooter dealer with a microwave. But there was only one way to find out, so off I went.
I probably should’ve asked what a house pizza is, but I love my Margheritas anyway, so that’s what I ordered. It had a crust that was somewhere between thin and medium in thickness, with a non-greasy, mottled underside. Though well browned in spots, the edge in general was pretty pale, but it was crunchy.
There was quite a bit of sauce, which had a thick consistency and a well-cooked flavor. The pizza also had a pronounced flavor of herbs, though I'm not sure how much of that came from the sauce and how much from the dry herbs that had been sprinkled over the pizza's surface.
The cheese - processed mozzarella, I guess - was well browned and congealed. It appeared that the pizza had also received a light dusting of some grated cheese after coming out of the oven, though I couldn't really taste it. There was some chopped onion in there as well, which might have been added to the sauce rather than applied separately.
As I said, Roam Cafe is not a pizzeria, so they don't offer a lot in the way of pizza. It's also not a full-service restaurant, so the menu is fairly short, and most of the items are on the light side - croissants, focaccia, antipasto, and the like. The "Buffalotto," described as "crispy bread filled with black olives, buffalo mozzarella and tomato," sounds interesting. Desserts include gelato and a couple of "bombas," which come in black & white or "exotic" fruit varieties, and of course there's a wide variety of coffee drinks, plus Italian sodas, hot chocolate, teas, beer and wine.
As for this pizza, well, it was OK, but it didn't thrill me. There was nothing particularly Margherita-like about it, for one thing; it seemed like a basic sauce-and-cheese pizza. It was a bit overcooked for my taste, too, the cheese particularly. (I also wonder why, if Roam has buffalo mozzarella - which I take to mean fresh mozzarella made from domestic water buffalo, which has long been produced in Italy - they don't use it on the Margherita.) And though the crust seemed to have risen somewhat, it didn't have great flavor or texture. Quite honestly, it reminded me of one of those frozen pizzas that are supposed to rise when you put them in the oven. Granted, those are among the better frozen pizzas out there, but I expect, or at least hope, for better when I order a pizza from an eating establishment. Bottom line, this was alright, I mean I finished it, but I don't plan to order it again. I'll give it a C-.
Roam Cafe, 260 Park Ave. 360-4165
Sun. - Thu. 9 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.

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