Roma Urban Market proves that exquisite things come in big packages.
The 10,000-square-foot market encompasses sections brimming with hot and cold foods, plus a pizza kitchen and a marble-topped bar where beer, wine, coffee and house-baked pastries are served. It spans the ground floor of the MCS Orchard Plaza, a sleek multi-story commercial building located at 555 W. Beech St.
Loaded with hundreds of unique grocery products, including dried pastas from Italy and fresh produce from local farms, Roma is also home to more than 200 hard-to-find international wines and spirits.
Whether you’re looking for a prized bottle of malbec from Argentina or rare small-batch vodka from Iceland, you can find them along with many other eclectic imports in the market’s wine and liquor retail section just inside the main entrance.
Roma Urban Market was founded in 1953 in Pasadena by a Sicilian immigrant who first ran a fruit and vegetable cart in New York City before moving to California.
A group now carries the torch with a beefed-up inventory of groceries and prepared foods that can be carried out or enjoyed at the coffee bar — or within three different outdoor seating areas, one of which puts you in a central atrium distinguished by lush flora and a soothing water fountain.
With so much in the offing, patrons can essentially drop in for coffee and a berry scone for breakfast; return during lunch for fresh pizza, made-to-order sandwiches or a customized salad from the salad bar; and then come back after work to unwind during happy hour (5–7 p.m. daily) over wine, craft beer and complimentary finger food.
Undecided what to do for dinner? A stroll through the aisles leads you to grab-and-go meatballs, mac n’ cheese, meat or vegetarian arancini, and a host of other delicious meals made onsite throughout the day. You can also purchase all of the essential ingredients for making pizza at home, starting with house-made dough and tomato sauce to fresh mozzarella and various toppings.
In addition, if you’re in need of necessities such as dairy products, paper goods and toiletries, you’ll find them here.
Roma’s interior design is both chic and Old World, as though you are strolling down a charming European street lined with contemporary shops and eateries. Many have compared it to New York’s famous Eataly, a large marketplace noted for its gastronomic delights that has branched into multiple cities.
The findings here at Roma are very similar as you peruse the shelves and cooler cases stocked with everything from olive oils, gourmet sauces and condiments, to house-made sausages, lasagna, artisan cheeses, breads and pastries.
Over at the deli counter, foods such as assorted olives, house-made salads like herbed chicken, as well as top-quality meats are but a few of the temptations difficult to ignore amid the other culinary sights and smells coming at you from all directions.
They include the fabulous lineup of house-made bakery items found at the coffee/beer/wine bar, where luscious tiramisu, red velvet whoopie pies, bright lemon bars and plump cannoli wink at you from their glass display cases.
The market keeps those with special dietary needs in mind. To-go pizzas, for example, can be made with gluten-free crusts. Many vegetarian items are available, and a variety of organic products can be found on the grocery shelves.
Just as the owners intended, the market is not only a grocery store, but a stylish bistro and food emporium that serves as a community gathering spot tailored for locals and out-of-towners alike.
Located at 555 W. Beech St., Roma Urban Market is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday, and until 10 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 619-255-5700 or visit romaurbanmarket.com.