Roma: A taste of Italy in Ozark


Labi and Tasha Islami founded Roma Italian Restaurant in March of 2017. Although it’s their first restaurant to open, Labi had worked in a neighboring establishment before going out on his own.

“I wanted to open a restaurant to please people with great food,” Labi said. “I make the sauces and just about everything else in our kitchen. When I see people coming in to enjoy a meal, it is exciting. I love making people happy, and it makes work fun.”

The hardworking couple has two sons, Draklen and Albinot, who keep them quite busy when they’re away from the restaurant.

Served with homemade marinara, the Fried Calamari is a fine starter to share.

Soothing Italian music softly playing in the background lends itself to the relaxing, warm atmosphere at Roma Italian Restaurant. I caught myself looking around for Al Pacino or Joe Pesci, as they love great Italian food. If I had seen them, and their Italian was good, I’m sure they would have told me: “Il menu è molto allettante (The menu is very tempting).”

Labi takes great pride in preparing all of the dishes to perfection. His skills are masterful, and as a result, everyone I spoke with raved about different menu options. The selections — including salads; sandwiches; pastas; veal, chicken and seafood entrees; pizza rolls; and  New York-style pizza — are plentiful. There are lunch specials during the workweek.

After speaking with Labi and Tasha for a few minutes, Labi returned to the kitchen to surprise me with whatever he wanted me to sample. I was tickled when Tasha presented my table with Roma’s Fried Calamari appetizer, large, golden-brown pieces of calamari served with homemade marinara sauce. Next, she presented the wonderful Bruschetta, featuring fresh-chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil on oven-toasted baguette slices.

The Pasta Trio is a great option for sampling several specialties on one plate. I was treated to a portion of Fettuccine Alfredo, as well as Lasagna and Manicotti topped with Roma’s marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. The splendid sauces are sure to please any fans of Italian fare.

Roma’s Stromboli is stuffed with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, sausage and mozzarella cheese.

The hearty Stromboli was definitely one of my favorites, as the Roma version included pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, sausage and mozzarella cheese, lovingly wrapped in homemade pizza dough and served with marinara.

Chicken Parmigiana with spaghetti is a Roma specialty.

Labi and Tasha told me that the Chicken Parmigiana is one of their top-selling dishes. And, after sampling the breaded chicken breast topped with melted mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce served with spaghetti, I knew why.

New York-style, wood-oven pizzas are a favorite at Roma. I loved the unique Romana — mozzarella, ricotta and spinach on the awesome crust. Another standout is Roma’s Special, loaded with mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and black olives. Diners can also design pizza pies based on the ingredients that tempt their eyes.

The Tres Leches Cake is a must-try.

Roma’s Cannoli has a sweet presentation as well as flavor.

Try a dessert or three, as Roma Italian Restaurant has many sweet treats. Tasha smiled as she delivered the restaurant’s Tres Leches Cake, Cannoli and Tiramisu. The presentation let me know that Labi had also mastered the dessert preparation aspect of his trade.

I had never tried Tres Leches, but after my visit to Roma, I plan to have many more slices of the dense, moist cake soaked in a mixture of milk products. It was like sweet magic! The Cannoli and Tiramisu were also very, very good.

My friends at Roma Italian Restaurant in Ozark will treat you like family. Go see them for a squisito meal.