Italian restaurant news
Roma's Italian Bistro adds affordable Italian-American to Dallas' Oak Cliff
An Italian restaurant with deep suburban roots has opened in Dallas' Oak Cliff: Called Roma's Italian Bistro, it's located at 839 W. Jefferson Blvd., in a small brick storefront at the corner of Tyler Street, in a space that was once Mi Fondita Restaurant, where it's winning over the locals with its basic Italian-American at an affordable price.
Roma's is owned by Julian Leshnja, who also owns locations in Duncanville, Lufkin, and Jacksonville.
His goal with the Oak Cliff location is to offer an alternative to Mexican food that's more common in Oak Cliff, but at about the same price. Appetizers start at $5.95, and pastas start at $10.95.
- Julian’s signature: shrimp, garlic, basil, tomatoes, and feta cheese over penne pasta
- Chicken carciofi with artichoke and mushroom in a sherry pink sauce
- Chef’s special with chicken, shrimp and scallops in a pink sauce
- Ribeye with marsala wine sauce and penne garlic pasta
- salmon over sauteed veggies
There are also pizzas, calzones, stromboli, subs, and desserts such as tiramisu, cannoli, and cheesecake. [Calzone vs. stromboli, courtesy of Food Network: "A calzone features a circle of dough that's folded in half over the filling and sealed by crimping, like a pasty or empanada. A stromboli starts with a rectangular piece of dough that's then topped with add-ins and cheese, rolled up lengthwise and sealed by folding and pressing the extra dough over the edges."]
They offer delivery in a 5-mile radius. Add the three sibling locations and Roma's has pretty good coverage in the southeast Dallas corridor.
Leshnja moved from Albania to the U.S. when he was nine. Owning restaurants is in the family: His brother Florenc owns Gallo Nero, a similar concept that debuted on Greenville Avenue in Dallas in 2018, followed by Frisco, which opened last year.
The two brothers got their start with their first Roma's in Duncanville, back in 2011. There are now 14 other loosely connected Roma's locations around DFW, East Texas, and Louisiana that have been sold over time yet all operate under the same name — not unlike other Albanian-run chains around DFW such as Joe's Pizza & Pasta.
All Roma's locations have a similar look and feel with comfortable seating and high ceilings, but in smaller spaces.
"I don’t really like to do big restaurants," Leshnja says. "I’d rather have a small place that I can manage and where my employees are happy. This helps us provide fresh food and a consistent experience."