June 26, 2007

Go Roma...and go on Sundays when kids eat free!

Go Roma Italian Kitchen. We visited the Northbrook location, but they have many throughout the suburbs. See http://www.goroma.net/ for details.

You've had a busy weekend and you're not up for cooking dinner, but you don't want to succumb to the golden arches, either. Well then, my friend, Go Roma!

Go Roma Italian Kitchen offers "sophisticated" fast food. Think Panera or Corner Bakery with a bit of Italian flair.

I’d driven by the Northbrook location for years thinking it was a full-service sit-down Italian joint. I only stepped in recently when DH and I headed there for a weekday lunch. I didn't have my kids with me, but kept my eye on a nearby mom and her two busy little ones. “Doesn't she look familiar? Do we know her?” I whispered to DH.

"At this point all white people look the same to me," said my cheeky old husband, who, BTW, is as pale as they come.

I turned my attention to food once my salad arrived, but before I'd finished it, the mystery mom, Susan, and I realized we were schoolmates over 25 years ago! She was about two years behind me in junior high; our older brothers were friends back in the day.

But you'd probably like to hear more about my Smoked Chicken and Pear Salad ($7.99), a winning combination of smoked chicken and pear (duh) mingling with goat cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries and grape tomatoes atop a bed of baby greens. Since that first workday lunch, I’ve returned many times. Go Roma’s ultra-thin crust artisan pizzas, topped with ingredients like spinach, goat cheese and oven-roasted veggies, are surprisingly filling. They’re also way better than Panera’s, whose crusts taste like English muffins. My standard Go Roma lunch is now the salad and ½ pizza combo. This provides enough food for one large meal or, if I’m listening carefully to my tummy, a decent meal and an afternoon (or late night) snack.

Clearly I like it enough for a workday lunch, and their curbside to-go delivery sure is convenient, but what about my boys? I had to make it back with them—on Sunday, because that’s when kids eat free! All. Day. Long.

Go Roma offers several choices for children all priced at a reasonable $3.99: cheese pizza, noodles with butter or marinara, ravioli and other kids standards. Kids meals include a drink (milk, apple juice or pop) in a kid’s cup and a cookie. I’d like to see a few carrots or a piece of fruit with the meal as a side or a substitute for the cookie. Call me a stickler, but did you notice how white Splinter’s meal looks (right)?

The entire menu is pretty child-friendly, so there’s no need to stick with the kid’s menu...unless it’s Sunday of course and those meals are free. Free! Free!

Granted it's not Osteria di Tramonto* but we fed the whole family a satisfying meal for about $20; that works for me!

What else to know before you go: They are a bit liberal with the sprinkle cheese (AKA parmesan), so either ask them to hold back a bit or bring an extra Lactaid.

* Celebrity chef Rick Tramonto's upscale Italian restaurant located nearby in Wheeling...review coming soon!

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