Cafe Roma Gets Makeover Under New Chef, Owners

When Gina Lanza sold the Anaconda Grille a few months ago, her fans wondered where she would end up.

After chilling out this summer, Lanza has landed on the South Hill at Cafe Roma. And things are already looking up there.

The longtime Lincoln Heights fixture, Cafe Roma was recently sold to Geoffery and Lauren Powers, who had the good sense to hire Lanza. She has already revamped the menu.

Dishes, of course, will still be Italian. But the offerings have been expanded to include more contemporary creations. Pastas range from tried-and-true spaghetti bologese and cheesy lasagna to orcheitto-shaped noodles with roasted Italian sausage, peppers and gorgonzola cheese and a vegetarian penne with grilled artichoke hearts, spinach and goat cheese.

Entrees include polenta with local veggies in an eggplant-tomato sauce, grilled chicken breast with garlic mashed potatoes and lamb chops with a rich gorgonzola creme fraiche. Northwest influences can be spotted with the citrus-braised salmon and the grilled ahi tuna served over a shellfish cioppino.

There will be a list of different specials each week.

On the new, improved menu I even spotted a few favorites from the Anaconda, including the roasted duck (this time around served with those tiny tasty French lentils), punttanesca and the sauteed shellfish salad.

“I’m really excited about Cafe Roma. I think this is a cool spot,” Lanza enthused. “The new owners have been great to work with.”

Prices range from $9.50 to $22 for the tuna. Most dinners run around $12 to $14. Meals include salad or soup and bread. Appetizers start at $6 for a portobello crostini (mushrooms on croutons) and top out at $7 for pan-fried calamari.

The lunch menu will be changed, too, starting next week. A welcome change, lunch is now a sit-down affair, full service instead of ordering at the counter.

For reservations - and you’re going to need them once word gets out that Lanza is cooking at Cafe Roma - call 534-5540.

Life is a beach

If you’re looking to extend your summer just a smidge, check out Clink’s Hawaiiana specials, running through Oct. 22.

I only wish the hostess would greet diners by saying “aloha,” but the cool Hawaiian shirts the servers are wearing are your first hint that something exotic is cooking here.

This interesting fresh sheet was developed with the help of chefs in the Hawaiian islands and showcases some of that state’s best ingredients.

Start with pupus (appetizers), such as the greasy, but oh-so-good taro root and sweet potato chips. These colorful, crunchy morsels are served with an Asian guacamole (it’s got coconut milk in it) and a sweet-tart mango salsa.

I recently enjoyed a seared poke salad at lunch. Poke is small pieces of raw fish cured in salt and various seasonings. You go into a grocery store over there and see at least a dozen varieties. Kind of like a Hawaiian version of lox.

I also sampled the hibachi chicken with lychee relish and thought the bird could have used a bit more time on the grill.

Other “onolicious” entrees include grilled marlin topped with a fresh pineapple and macadamia nut relish and a seared ahi caesar salad. (Ono, by the way, means “the best” in the islands.)

There’s also a slew of tempting tropical drinks being mixed in the bar for Clink’s version of Hawaiian days. Along with the mai tai and coladatype cocktails, there’s exotic mangoginger martini (hold the olive!) and a “krazie kazi” made with pretty pink guava puree. (What! No Blue Hawaii?)

For reservations, call 328-5965 and say “Book ‘em, Dan-O.”

College chow changes

Food on campus once generated as many lame jokes as hospital grub, but no more.

At least not at The Regency Room on the Washington State University campus.

This pleasant little lunchroom has an ambitious menu, affordable prices and attracts a growing number of regulars.

The surprisingly sophisticated menu includes appetizers such as a brushetta - toasted slices of bread smeared with a walnut pesto and kalamata olives - and Moroccan chicken served with spicy peanut sauce.

Lunch offerings include cold and hot sandwiches and entree-size salads such as an Italian bread and tomato mixture and roasted beet salad. Full meals, served with soup or salad and your choice of side dishes, include Jamaican jerk-seasoned salmon, Asian stir-fry with sticky rice and a Mediterranean-style cod with a citrus salsa.

Prices are incredibly affordable, starting at $3.95 for a half sandwich and maxing out at $6.95 for the salmon. Appetizers are all under $3.

This fall, The Regency Room has started offering a gourmet buffet every Friday night before home football games. The price is $9.50 and that includes at least three entrees, a variety of salads and dessert. Seating is limited, so reservations are suggested. Call (509) 335-8566 to save a spot for the Friday feeds.

The Regency Room is located on the second floor of the Compton Union Building. For parking, check in with parking services for a guest pass. There is a metered parking lot near the CUB also.

Get a clue, pal

OK, so I’m eating my healthy lunch at Huckleberry’s, trying to enjoy the last warm weather of the year outside, and a guy comes around spraying the tabletops with Windex.


The smell of ammonia is a real appetite killer, especially at an establishment that focuses on healthier ways to be in the world.

For restaurants that have glass-top tables, do you think you could possibly spray the cleaner discreetly onto the cloth instead of spritzing it in the air? Please.

It’s officially fall

Can’t keep living in denial. Summer is over. Kaput.

It’s time to re-stock the pantry and lay in a supply of batteries in case there’s any month-long power outages in the coming months.

One thing we can look forward to, however, is the change in menus at area restaurants who showcase seasonal ingredients. If your eatery would like its fall menu included in the upcoming column on seasonal cuisine, send them to Leslie Kelly, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or fax them to (509) 459-5098. The deadline is Oct. 13. Miss it, and you’ll be left out in the cold. , DataTimes The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, RESTAURANT REVIEW - Behind the Menu

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