A lot of people in Rome eat out at various restaurants and are familiar with most menu items but I'm always surprised at the things I'm still learning about. People email me and reach out on social media letting me know about food and drinks I should try. So here are a few I've had recently that I'd like to share...
Chicken wings at Bella Roma — Hear me out. I know that when most people think about Bella Roma they think pizza or calzones or pasta (which are all really good there) but the other night I tried their chicken wings. I've been going to Bella Roma for years and never even know they served chicken wings. It's on the appetizer part of the menu. I love me some chicken wings and these are really really good. There's two things I like about 'em. First of all the wing sauce is a light, tangy sauce. It seems vinegar-based to me. Secondly (and this is huge deal for me) is that a lot of times when I eat wings I feel like the drums are a little undercooked and when you bite into 'em they're still a little raw inside which is why I prefer the flats. BUT at Bella Roma, it appears that they cut little slices into the meat so that it cooks all the way through AND the little cuts open the meat up so more sauce can get in there. It's GENIUS. So go try the wings.
Hot mustard from McDonalds — Yes I know it's a chain restaurant and I know this sauce has been around quite a while but there might be a few folks around town who've never tried it. My buddy Blake Silvers opened my eyes to this gem. I've always eaten my McDonalds chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce, naturally. Well Blake suggested I get the hot mustard and I thought he was steerin' me wrong but lo and behold, it was DELICIOUS. I don't know where the "hot" part of it comes from. Don't quote me but it tastes almost like an habanero heat. There's a lot of flavor in that little packet. Now I get a bunch of it and eat it with everything. It's one of my standard dipping condiments, joining the ranks of Dale's sauce, Zax sauce and that hot Cajun sauce from Jefferson's.
Q-Ranch sauce at Shane's Rib Shack — I've talked about Shane's before and that I love their peach tea and their Shack Potato. But my buddy Brandon orders the Q-Ranch sauce with his food and I've never tried it till recently. It's a mixture of their ranch sauce and their popular barbecue sauce. Seems like a no brainer that it would be good but I bet a lot of people don't even know it's available.
Smoked turkey sandwich at Moe's BBQ — Y'all. This sandwich is unbelievably good. First of all it's a LOT of sandwich. The last time I had it, it was falling out of my hands as I ate it. But it was worth it. It's all white meat turkey breast sliced and served on a toasted bun. It comes with their house sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, slaw, white barbecue sauce and pickles. My staple at Moe’s is their smoked wings. But whenever I venture away from that, it's for this sandwich. I highly recommend it. Partner this with their warm, fresh from the fryer and still crackling pork rings and you've got yourself one heck of a meal.
Pickle Vodka? at La Scala — Now this one is merely a recommendation from a friend. I haven't tried it yet. My buddy Brian (who is an expert on the subject) told me that La Scala on Broad Street has a pickle flavored vodka that I need to try. So I called over there to La Scala and an employee told me that they do indeed have a pickle-infused vodka. I don't know about y'all but this sounds like something I need to try. Brian swears up and down that it's the best thing he's had in a while and I trust him. So get you a designated driver and head on over to La Scala to try it. I'll probably tag along if that's ok.
The Chadwick at Duffy's Deli - The other day I went to Duffy's and they were out of bacon (it was almost closing time so I forgive 'em), and as I was raising Cain about there being no bacon, one of the employees suggested I try the Chadwick. It's shredded chicken, mixed cheese, jalapenos and black beans grilled on a jalapeno wrap. It's AMAZING. And it comes with salsa and sour cream on the side but the employee who recommended it to me brought me ranch dressing with it and it was absolutely delicious. Thank you awesome Duffy's employee for your suggestion. The fruity chicken salad is my favorite thing on the menu but The Chadwick is right up there with it.
New Jamwich hours — One of my favorite downtown restaurants, Jamwich, is expanding its hours. They're not just open for lunch anymore. Now they're open Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays to Saturdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you haven't been there you definitely need to go try their unique sandwiches which all contain some sort of delicious jelly or jam. My favorites are the Peachy Q, the Drewberry and the Dirty South Mouth. If anyone wants to go, holler at me and I'll meet you over there.
I'm always up for trying new stuff so email me or find me on social media and let me know of places or items around town that you think I should try. Rome is full of great folks and great food. Let's get the two together.
Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune.