It’s clear that Rome’s Flavours, a cafe just off Winter Park’s Park Avenue, pays extra special attention to the house-made pasta.
That was evident when I visited recently. Shortly after my guest and I were seated, a gentleman I assume is the owner invited a young woman and her party from another table to join him at the pasta-making station in the back of the small space. There he guided her — wearing plastic gloves — through the process of running the dough through the rollers of the electrically powered pasta machine to create smooth sheets of just the right thickness, then through the die rollers to cut it into the various widths that comprise the myriad pasta types. Finally the fettuccine, spaghetti, pappardelle or whatever were draped over wooden dowels to be dried a bit before a plunge into boiling water.
And the freshness of the pasta was evident to the tooth that is referenced when we say al dente. There is something about freshly made pasta that somehow elevates a simple dish.
So Rome’s Flavours definitely has the pasta thing down. Now if they afford the same attention to the sauces, the place would be a knockout.
Things were OK with the pappardelle my companion chose with sausage sauce. The thick ribbons were tossed with pulpy bits of tomato and slices of cased sausage rather than crumbled, which may have served the sauce better.
But the Norma sauce I chose to pair with the tagliolini was almost nonexistent. There was little evidence of tomato or eggplant, as Norma promised, and the only basil was one gigantic leaf atop the dish.
I was able to get a bit more sauce by adding a side of Polpette, which had the three meatballs served with a bit of the same sauce my friend had, minus the sausage coins. The meatballs themselves were fine and they added enough incentive for me to eat all of the wonderful pasta. I’m not sure the tagliolini and meatballs together warranted a $20+ fee, however. For that matter, the $15.90 for the sausage sauce was hefty considering the portion.
The young man who was our waiter seemed as though he wanted to do a good job but could have really used some help from some of the other staffers just standing around most of the evening. Perhaps my thought waves made it through because before we left, one of the hosts deigned to clear a table.
Rome’s Flavours is more suited for a casual, quick meal than, say, a romantic repast. The atmosphere is more like that of an ice cream shop. That's because it has a gelato counter prominently displayed up front. But definitely go to remind yourself what good, house-made pasta can taste like. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to help make it.
Rome’s Flavours is at 124 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. There is no website. The phone number is 407-951-8039.