Trattoria Roma blends traditional and modern touches into a memorable experience

Gary Seman Jr.
The Columbus Dispatch
Salmon with angel hair carbonara at Trattoria Roma

Although dining along Grandview Avenue has gone through many transitions over the years, Trattoria Roma has been a mainstay since 2000.

Longtime chef Matt Prokopchak and general manager Shawn Mason, both partners in the restaurant, have made it their mission to keep the traditional items on the menu while using modern flourishes on several entrees.

“I think the essence of this place are the people, not just Shawn and I, but our staff and the customers,” Prokopchak said.

Plus, the food certainly speaks to patrons.

The 6-ounce meatball ($12), good as a shareable and stuffed with provolone and mozzarella and ladled with sauce, is served with crostini on the side.

“If you’re a meat eater, you can’t go wrong with a stuffed meatball,” he said. “We have a guest who calls it 'the magic meatball.' People who try it are going to love it.”

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Arancini are slightly unconventional, nestled into slow-cooked marinara and formed into squares so they don’t roll off of the plate, Procopchak said.

The deep-fried risotto cakes, stuffed with four cheeses and fresh herbs, are accented with basil aioli.

“It’s the same thing (as regular arancini) but just a different take,” he said.

Beet caprese salad at Trattoria Roma

The stylized beet salad ($9 for small, $17 for a large) is a take on the caprese salad, but instead of tomatoes, the marinated beets are used, mozzarella is substituted with goat cheese and basil is replaced by mixed greens. The salad is dressed with a balsamic-peanut reduction, and garnished with toasted peanuts for texture.

“That’s just a great balance right there,” said Prokopchak, who started out as an assistant chef and ascended to head chef three years later. He and Mason bought out the owner at the time.

Trattoria Roma, which got its start in Northland before relocating the Grandview Heights area, introduced a build-your-own pasta bowl several years to a very warm reception from guests.

Starting at $14, the bowls offer a choice of pasta, sauce and “extras” — several proteins or a vegetable for an upcharge.

Arancini appetizer at Trattoria Roma

Prokopchak said he likes angel hair with puttanesca sauce, plus sausage ($5), shrimp ($10), mushrooms ($5) broccoli ($5).

“It adds up but it’s so delicious,” he said.

Faroe Islands salmon ($26) gets a maple-bourbon glaze and is served with smoked-salmon angel-hair carbonara.

“People love that glaze,” Prokopchak said. “That’s a dish where you get a little bit of everything.”

Cioppino ($32), a classic seafood stew, is largely built to order at Trattoria Roma.

Scallops, shrimp, mussels and the available fish of the day rest in a vegetable stew that gets added verve from roasted peppers, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. The bowl of seafood is served with polenta hush puppies.

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“If you like seafood that’s your dish,” Prokopchak said.

Chicken Parmesan is close to as traditional as it gets: Chicken tenders are pounded thin, then floured, egg-washed and coated with panko breadcrumbs, and sauteed until golden-brown. Crowned with marinara sauce and cheese, the chicken is paired with fettucine Alfredo.

“It’s probably one of the more popular options we have,” he said. “It’s a very familiar dish but delicious, too."

Trattoria Roma

Where: 1447 Grandview Ave., Grandview Heights

Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. daily

Contact: 614-488-2104, www.trattoria-roma.com