The part of Downtown Memphis where I work mostly comprises office buildings and courts. Although there is wealth of lunchtime options nearby, most require at least a short hike. Court Square, a couple of blocks west, boasts Lenny’s and Quizno’s; when you walk a little further south down the Mall there are a lot more restaurants, mostly sit-down places. There are a few more sprinkled about — Huey’s, Friday’s, a burger stand in Peabody Place, Slim’s… And of course there’s Beale Street, which given the distance, sees very little of me.
Unlike the hot-shot attorney and banker types who I see in the windows of certain Second Street eateries enjoying appetizers, cocktails and desserts on their lunch breaks, I don’t have the time or the money to eat anywhere but my desk. The Quizno’s is probably the worst I’ve ever seen, and Lenny’s is always packed. The people who don’t have the patience to wait at Lenny’s overflow into Subway. Everywhere else, the amount of time it takes to walk cuts too deeply into my precious hour.
So when I saw that a pizzeria was being built near my building I was excited at the idea of having something quick and delicious practically at arm’s reach for those days when I forget my Lean Cuisine or don’t have any leftovers to pack.
After the sign came up, a man came and plastered the names of menu items at the tops of the windows. Donuts, coffee, hot wings, pizza, ziti, calzones, stromboli, spaghetti, cheesecake, subs… it looked as though they planned to serve a hundred different things.
Skepticism displaced my excitement. “No way will that place last,” I thought. “They’ll be throwing away more than they serve.”
I owe Roma an apology, because I never should have doubted. Twice I’ve picked up lunch there, and both times the food and the service have been so satisfying I almost don’t want to walk back to work. Next time I might even order my food “for here.”
When you walk in it’s like stepping through a portal to New York. Everyone who works there speaks with a thick loud Italian accent (which leads me to assume that it’s very much a family establishment) and lunch comes with a side of small talk. Friday my LSU hoodie provoked talk of football and trips to NOLA. I left thinking, “Those people are so cool!”
There isn’t a single other place to eat Downtown that inspires me to grin ear-to-ear all the way back to my desk. In fact I usually am either grumbling that my order was wrong, I was treated rudely, or I had to say “Pardon?” 18 times because I couldn’t understand what the over-it thug behind the counter was saying.
Great service, reasonable prices, and filling portions of tasty food have me sold on Roma. I can’t gush about this place enough. Go go go! It’s right at the corner of Third and Court.