I finally made it there, and I'm glad I did.
I'm not a true Italian food fan. I grew up with Mom's Home Made Spaghetti Sauce - a thick Marinara that she'd start cooking on Saturday morning for Sunday Dinner. She'd start parts of it Saturday, assemble parts into this pot that you could bathe an infant in on Sunday morning, and perfume the house with the thick scent of tomato sauce cooking with garlic, spices, three kinds of meats. I had it so many times that I got bored with it and stopped eating anything with red sauce in the 80s.
What a fool, I'd kill for some of her sauce now! My sister had been making this same sauce after Mom died but knowing that I had enough of it, when I came by for a visit, the menu was changed and we didn't have anything even remotely like that.
Lately, I've been on a search for something that "Tastes Like Home". The food here is different, not bad, just different. The bread tends to be a bit too pedestrian for my tastes, although I have not tried one of the local artisan bakeries that I'm friends with on Facebook. I'm planning on it, I have this craving for a sourdough bread with a thick crunchy crust and I haven't had any decent sourdough since I moved to Florida.
We have a recipe here for a bolognese sauce that is good, but not quite the same. I don't know what it is, but the sauce wasn't quite "right". Good but not "right".
When I sat down at the restaurant I began looking at the menu and noticed that the sandwiches were interesting. They had a good collection of Paninis and sandwiches and "you could have it on a hoagie roll".
Note the word "hoagie"... That is originally particular to Philadelphia and the region. Comes from the sandwiches that the Italian families made when Momma would send Dad to Hog Island in and around the First World War made on a torpedo roll. People from other places call it a "Torpedo" or a "Zepp". Wrong. Sorry, Hoagie.
Linguistics aside, I knew that I had the Real Deal. I looked deeper and the owner came over and started talking about how we could have anything we wanted on that famed Hoagie Roll and I was intrigued. Noticing that he had the real ingredients for a Real South Philly Italian Hoagie, I was ready to jump.
On the other hand, I have a very firm rule. If the owner of the restaurant chats with you about how great a specific dish, You Must Order That Dish. He's a fascinating character, in the way this little island is stuffed with People of Character, and he was quite animated and excited... about his Lasagne.
Describing the love that he put into the sauce, and how he got the Sausage from New York City because it wasn't quite the right spice mix here in South Florida, I was sold. We talked about that perfect Italian Hoagie and how I wanted to try that some day but not today. I ordered the lasagne.
Rom went off to the food prep area and prepared two samples of the sausage, a dark brown meat that promised of the spices of South Philly or Brooklyn or Queens. He was right, this was truly the best Italian Sweet Sausage that I had had in years. It was also promised to be throughout the Meat Lasagne in chunks.
If you're a vegetarian, you can have that variety but you'd miss that garlic and sage taste exploding all over your tongue in warm savory goodness.
He also brought by a basket of bread with some extra virgin olive oil sprinkled on it. Bread with Olive Oil hasn't been my favorite, until now. I'm the guy who makes his own unsalted butter to bake with, and bread just has to have butter. Its traditional, but I'm learning that Rom was right. This stuff was amazing!
There's a reason for that. It's not made here. Not even in Philly or New York. This bread was made in Tuscany and flown in from Italy. Yes, I had the Real Deal... Tuscan Ciabatta Bread. Oh Holy Cow this stuff was good!
The Lasagne arrived, and I had to say to Kevin - this sauce is better than yours!
While his sauce isn't moms, Kevin's sauce is head and shoulders above anything I have had in a restaurant in a very long time. The sauce that Rom has at Crema D'Roma is simply better. Chunks of Garlic, Tomato and spices and all of it baked with tender Lasagne noodles, cheeses and that amazing sausage.
Go there and try this stuff, it's wonderful.
Next time I go, we decided to try to re-create that South Philly Italian Hoagie. He "Gets" that stuff. The place actually has Proscuitto and Soppressatta on the menu in the listed ingredients. This is the Real Deal.
A Classic Hoagie on a Honest To God Tuscan Ciabatta Roll? Oh Heck YES!
When you walk by the place, you'll see the collection of the Gelatis that he has on order, plus the desserts like German Chocolate Cake and a Cannoli that I remember from 7th and Sears in South Philly when I was a kid visiting Grandmom... I'll try the cannoli next time.
Crema D'Roma is at
2150 Wilton Drive
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Be sure to say hi to Rom Marchisotto the owner. Rom will take good care of you.
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