With over 150 locations in more than 30 countries on six continents, Tony Roma’s is a name that is popular amongst meat lovers across the globe. Famous for their Baby Back Ribs, Tony Roma’s extensive menu is also comprised of chicken, seafood, pasta, and sandwiches, complemented with deliciously refreshing cold drinks and delectable American-style desserts – a flavourful experience for everyone. Perle Magazine spoke to Head Chef Ashok Lancy, and was invited to try some of Tony Roma’s signature dishes and get a taste of classic American cuisine.
Establishing the eponymous restaurant in 1972 in North Miami, Florida, Tony Roma’s experience working as a food and beverage and specialist allowed him to venture into launching his own restaurant chain. Originally serving as a steak and burger joint, the restaurant found fame for its baby back ribs when Chef David Smith – the chef behind Tony Roma’s hearty menu – tried out a new way to grill the ribs and served them with Tony Roma’s special BBQ sauce. Their popularity earned them a permanent place on the menu and thus became one of Tony Roma’s signature dishes. After business collaboration with Clint Murchinson (previous owner of the American football team Dallas Cowboys), and Roma Corporation was formed, Tony Roma’s saw global expansion with the first international branch opening in Tokyo, Japan, in 1983 becoming one of the first US chain restaurants to expand into international markets, followed by takeover Kenneth Reimer, Murchinson’s business associate, which saw even further expansion both externally and internally with the remodelling of the restaurants to give them a more modern feel. Tony Roma’s presence around was made even greater when Frank Steed took over as CEO in 2002 and signed to open branches in South America, Europe, and the Middle East. Original Head Chef David Smith retired in 2001, and founding father Tony Roma passed away in 2003, but the legacy of Tony Roma continued to grow under the culinary expertise of current Head Chef Bob Gallagher, even to this day, and becoming renowned as one of the premier choices for its signature ribs, steaks, and seafood and becoming a home for those who appreciate a hearty meal in a relaxing environment.
Located in Enma Mall, Riffa, and in Zayed Town, the latter Tony Roma venue is regarded one of the best-designed restaurant locations. With its spacious and brightly lit interior, with wooden furniture and earthy tones, from the first step in, Tony Roma’s inviting and cosy atmosphere sets the tone for a pleasant and comfortable dining experience. Walls covered with famous personalities that were regulars at Tony Roma’s, as well as some of the locations where the restaurant has chains, the restaurant offers its customers an insight into where Tony Roma’s founds its beginnings and the tasty cuisine that has made it the famous restaurant chain it is today. Customised to the country the restaurant is in, the menu at Tony Roma’s international locations offers additional options that are suited to the diner’s preferences, and is part of the varied menu that has multiple options in starters, mains, and desserts, and a refreshing drinks list. Additionally, the menu is constantly updated with specials, new chef-created dishes, and seasonal cuisines, which are made present in all the menus across the chains worldwide.
Perfect on a hot, sunny day, the Romaritas – a non-alcoholic take on Margaritas – are a refreshing drink option that is offered in three different flavours (wild berry, strawberry, and mango) and range from tangy to sweet. For those looking to enjoy a quick but filling bite, the Tony Roma’s signature Steak and Wild Mushroom flatbread from the starters is ideal as the thin and crispy bread it topped with grilled beef tenderloin, Italian cheese blend, wild mushrooms, red peppers, and chives, serves as a full meal without being too heavy and the sauce used on the flatbread also balances out all the flavours. The Potato Skins with cheddar cheese and beef bacon and garnished with onion chives with a side of ranch dressing are another savoury option that are fitting for a light but filling meal with a crunchy skin and soft inside and offer a mouthful of delicious smoky taste in each bite. For those who don’t want to start their meal on a light note, the Onion Loaf served with a Tony Roma’s Original BBQ sauce are a great option as they are crunchy and the BBQ sauce is of the perfect consistency with hints of spicy and fruity flavours. One of the best-selling dishes in the starters is also Tony Roma’s Kickin’ Shrimp, a spicy and crispy shrimp served on an Asian Mix salad are ideal to start the meal on an exciting note.
One of Tony Roma’s signature and most popular dishes is the Steakhouse Burger. Made with seven-pound beef patty, beef bacon, Havarti cheese, and demi-glace sauce, served with a side order of fries and demi-glace sauce, the burger is a rich tasting dish and a true treat for burger lovers. To maintain the high standards and consistency throughout all the Tony Roma’s, the burger bread – much like most of the ingredients used in Tony Roma’s dishes – are imported from the United States and are perfectly soft and moist. The demi-glace adds a special touch and makes the burger an appetising dish.
For those who enjoy seafood, the Shrimp Scampi Pasta is a wholesome option made with linguine pasta, tomatoes, pesto, with a sprinkle of Romano cheese and basil. The slightly spicy pasta is a good lunch option as it is packed with flavour and the pasta is filling. For a lighter and a healthier seafood option the Shrimp and Salmon Piccata is a suitable choice, as it is a grilled salmon with shrimp and lemon caper sauce served with a side order of rice cooked with Italian herbs and steamed vegetables. The salmon is tender and complements the shrimp, and proves to be a flavourful dish full of different textures combined with the rice and fresh vegetables.
The real treat are Tony Roma’s Bountiful Beef Ribs, served with loaded mash pototes and are offered with a variety of sauces (The Original BBQ sauce, Carolina Honeys, Tony Roma’s Red Hots, Blue Ridge Smokies). The ribs are offered in options of half rack, Roma’s rack, and full-rack. The succulent and tender meat paired with the variety of sauces create a rich texture and taste that has resulted in the dish becoming the most popular dish in the restaurant. The meat is juicy in each bite and is a wholesome dining experience overall. Tony Roma’s also offers Beef Short Ribs, Fillet Medallions and Beef Ribs Combo, Fillet Medallions and Grilled Salmon – offering a wide variety of options for Rib-lovers.
Finishing the meal on a sweet note, Tony Roma’s has traditional American-style desserts such as the Cheesecake with strawberry sauce topping, carrot cake with cream cheese and garnished with crushed pecans, and brownie served with ice cream. Customers can order these desserts individually or order the ‘taster’ option and order them all together and indulge in all three sweet treats.
Offering a special menu for children, and a wide selection of salads such as the Tony’s Asian Salad, signature Grilled Chicken and Fire Roasted Vegetable Salad, and the fruity Strawberry Pecan Salad, the casual dining restaurant has options for everyone to choose from in order to enjoy a delicious and wholesome meal.
Launching an exciting way to engage with the customers, Tony Roma’s is also introducing the RibFace competition for the customers to come and get their hands – and face! – dirty for the chance of winning a year’s supply of ribs. The customers would have to submit a picture of them getting messy while eating the ribs, and one lucky contestant will be selected – the perfect opportunity for meat lovers to get their chance of earning a bountiful supply of their favourite food.
Whether it is for their light bites, delicious starters, seafood and chicken dishes, or their ever popular Ribs, Tony Roma’s is a restaurant that brings to its customers a fun and delicious yet casual dining experience where they can enjoy their favourite meals in a cosy and comfortable setting.
For more information:
Zayed Town, Manama, Bahrain
Enma Mall, Riffa
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