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San Diego Restaurant Reviews

  Tony Roma's (Del Mar ­ Flower Hill Mall)

by Jeanne Bellezzo



There's something to be said for a restaurant that can tempt even a resolute non-meat-eater
to try a taste of her dining companion's beef ribs and go back for seconds and thirds.

That's what Tony Roma's is known for ­ thick, tender and flavorful ribs, with an aroma to match. Along with the excellent Bountiful Beef Ribs, the menu offers St. Louis Style ribs and, of course, their signature Original Baby Backs. Each is available in a full or half slab (the Bountiful Beef Roma order includes seven huge slabs), with your choice of BBQ sauces.

The Blue Ridge Smokey had a good, deep smoky flavor, while the Carolina Honey was sweet and just a little tangy. BBQ purists will like Tony Roma's Original; if you need more fire, go for the Red Hots. Can't decide? The Star Studded Sampler includes Original Baby Backs, Carolina Honeys, Blue Ridge Smokies and Bountiful Beef. Bottles of sauces are available on the table as well to let you experiment with different flavors.

 

 




Their reputation may have been built on ribs, but Tony Roma's has many other tasty options as well. Signature USDA Choice beef steaks include a New York Strip and Top Sirloin served on a bed of fried onions with sautéed Merlot
mushrooms.

The Border Style Sirloin is topped with Jack cheese, roasted Poblano peppers, diced tomatoes and fried onions, accompanied bycorn on the cob and ranch-style beans.

Tony Roma's knows how to do chicken, too. The BBQ Chicken is perfectly cooked, with juicy, tender meat that is excellent alone or dipped in sauce.The Stacked Chicken Tejas dresses up two grilled chicken breasts with the same fixings as the Border Style Sirloin, then tops it off with Original BBQ sauce. Other chicken choices include a teriyaki-marinated grill and a
chicken tenderloin platter.

There's also a variety of grilled chicken entrée salads, including a Santa Fe Salad, Grilled Chicken Caesar, Fried Chicken Tenders Salad and a Buffalo Chicken Salad with fried chicken breast coated in Buffalo sauce. Is there any room for seafood lovers at a ribs place? Absolutely. The Carolina Honeys BBQ Salmon is a house favorite, offering a large Atlantic salmon filet grilled and brushed with sweet, tangy sauce.

Gulf Grilled Shrimp Skewers come in pairs, each with a half-dozen plump, medium-sized shrimp, bell peppers and red onions, along with rice and crisp steamed vegetables.

Got a taste for variety? "Build Your Own Combo" dinners let you choose two of your favorites from nearly all of the above, or indulge in the Ultimate "Power Grill" Combo with one half-slab of Carolina Honeys St. Louis Style ribs, a grilled shrimp skewer and a 7 oz. Top Sirloin steak.

All entrees include fresh, lightly dressed cole slaw and your choice of steamed vegetables, French fries, baked potato or ranch-style beans.

If you're hankering for a good burger or sandwich, you won't be disappointed. The grilled half-pound, 100% ground chuck burgers include a BBQ and Roma Onion burger topped with fried onions and melted cheddar, and a Merlot Mushroom burger smothered with melted Monterey Jack.

Sandwiches include Pulled Pork BBQ, Buffalo Chicken and Bacon & Swiss Chicken Grill.Each comes with cole slaw and French fries.Carb counters, rejoice. Tony Roma's has a menu just for you.

The Nada Lotta Carbs selections feature a full rack of baby back ribs, grilled chicken and salmon, a bunless beef burger with three cheeses and more, all cooked with their Nada Carb BBQ sauce. How does a zero-carb BBQ sauce taste? Excellent, with a rich, smoky flavor.


While the Mud Pie dessert definitely isn't low-carb, it's worth every gram. With a chocolate cookie crust topped with coffee ice cream, whipped cream and cookie crumb sprinkles in a bed of chocolate sauce, it is shamefully good. The Skillet Brownie Sundae looked equally tempting.

Service at Tony Roma's is friendly and attentive, and the steakhouse-style ambiance is comfortable and relaxed, with rich wood, cozy booths and artwork that reflects the Del Mar horse-racing tradition.

The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Plenty of parking is available in the Flower Hill Mall. Take-out available. All major credit cards accepted.

                                                                                                                                     Photos by John Leonffu

 

 

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