Roma 08.19

Roma Recipes: Cacio e Pepe

If you love having dinner guests over, chances are, you do it frequently. If this is the case, we bet you’re always looking for unique and delicious recipes to impress your guests with. You’re in luck: with this recipe for Bucatini Cacio e Pepe (super cheesy, peppery pasta) you’re delivering a satisfying meal at surprisingly little effort on your part. But don’t worry, your party will still think you’re the host(ess) with the most(est).

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. bucatini pasta (recommended, but spaghetti also works)

1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided (4:1)

4 tbsp. EVOO

1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Kosher salt (to taste)

 

Directions:

  • Boil a large pot of water over high heat
  • Add the pasta and cook until al dente— about 8 minutes. (See our blog on tips for cooking perfect pasta!)
  • Before you drain, take about 2 cups of water from the pot!
  • Add the ground pepper into a dry skillet and toast until fragrant (30-40 seconds)
  • Add 4 tbsp. butter and EVOO, allowing to melt.
  • Add in the drained pasta, 1 c. saved pasta water and cheeses, tossing to coat. (**Important: Make sure the pasta water is hot when you add it! This will prevent the sauce from clumping.)
  • Season with salt to taste
  • Add in ¼ c. more water and the last tbsp. Butter, mixing well.
  • Serve on individual plates and allow your guests to garnish with additional pepper and Pecorino Romano.

 

Buon Appetito!

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Roma 08.05

Master the Track

It’s summertime, and the living should be easy. You’re probably dreaming of what every sane soul in the Capital Region dreams of: beautiful, sunshine-filled days at the track, and a fully loaded cooler in tow. As one of the few places that allows (all-you-can) carry-in, carry-out, without excluding food and beverages, there is no reason the Saratoga Race Track shouldn’t be one of the most sought-after daytrip getaways in our area. Before you head off to the races, make sure you’re well-prepared (pssst… this is where we come in!). Check out our guide to mastering the track so that your next trip is nothing short of perfect— we thought of everything so that you don’t have to.

 

Planning ahead is key. Here’s what you need to keep in mind before you head out:

  • Think outside the box for alternative routes to the track (or you’ll regret not doing so while you’re sitting in traffic for three hours because everyone decided to go the same way you did!).
  • Check the weather. You don’t want to get to the track expecting to catch a few rays in a balmy 75 degrees, only to be surprised by rain… the entire day. Dress for the weather, and make sure you’ve got appropriate footwear too!
  • If you ARE swinging by Roma’s (which we highly recommend), know what you’re planning on ordering ahead of time (or, in the instance of our platters, please place your order ahead of time!). Both stores tend to fill up quickly on race days, especially the sunny ones, so plan on it being busy!
  • Pack for the occasion! Get what you can situated ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about it last-minute.

 

Here’s what to be sure to pack in your…

Tote bag (the important part):

Sunscreen

  • (SPF 30 or higher!)

Wallet

  • You’re here to bet on horses

Keys

  • How else did you get here?

Phone

  • Just in case you want to snap a few photos or call your friends to gloat about how well your horse is doing

Coloring supplies for the kids

  • On the condition that they only draw the huge, funky hats they spot

Sunglasses

  • To make sure you can see which horse is winning instead of relying on the yelling around you

 

Cooler (the really important part)

Ice

  • To keep the beer cold

Beer

  • Because the ice has a job to do and you need to quench your thirst

Roma’s Party Platter

  • Because the ice needs a side job and you need to eat. Allow us to elaborate:
    • You’re heading to the track to relax with your friends or family. You’re going to be there for a while, as long as things go your way, right? Right. Place a catering order ahead of time for a plate of food that will keep you and your group of track fanatics satisfied all day. The most work you’ll have to put in is deciding what kind of meats and cheeses you want. Swing by on your way to the track, pick it up, pop it into the cooler, and proceed to party.

 

So, the next time you head to the track, be sure to plan ahead to optimize your fun and make it as relaxing as possible for yourself. Give us a call a few days in advance if you’re placing an order for a party platter so that we can make sure it’s perfect and ready to go for you— but if you’re not feeling a party platter, our Sammich of the Week is always another great trackside treat. We’ll see you next time!

 

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RomaBlogJuly22

Roma’s Tips to Perfect Your Pasta (Every Time)

Pasta is great stuff. It’s a staple. It’s been a staple for centuries, spreading from Italy to the rest of the world. Many of us don’t just love pasta, we live for it. It comes in all different shapes, colors, and sizes. Spaghetti, penne, ziti, rigatoni, whole-grain, tricolor… Regardless of your preference, nothing beats the satisfaction of a piping hot plate of saucy or cheesy pasta (we like to call it the ultimate comfort food). Just the thought of it is enough to make your mouth water. But why pay a fortune for a dish of pasta at a restaurant, when you can make a perfect, satisfying plate of it right at home for a fraction of the cost?

Perfecting your plate of pasta is easier than it may seem (especially to those who don’t cook frequently). However, there are certain habits that are widespread in the culinary world that might actually be ruining your pasta. There is nothing more disappointing than when you accidentally overcook (or undercook) your pasta, or it gets stuck together, or the flavor just isn’t up to your standards. Here are a few basic tips to help you ace the pasta-making process every single time without fail, because we never want you to experience that disappointment again.

Tip 1:

Make sure the pot you’re using has plenty of space in it for the pasta to move around! If the pasta is all packed into the pot tightly, it will get stuck together. The pot should be spacious enough to hold both the water and the pasta without being close to overflowing, so make sure that there is enough space to account for the water displacement that the pasta will create.

Tip 2:

Boil enough water to submerge all of the pasta! 6 quarts of water should be plenty if you’re cooking a pound of pasta, which is the standard package. Salt the water with about a tablespoon of salt. Many people “salt” their water with just a quick little shake of the salt dispenser, but you’re going to be happy you added a bit more! The salt is both for taste and to speed up the boiling process.

Tip 3:

Don’t add the pasta into the water until it’s hit a rolling boil. What exactly does this mean? There will be lots of bubbles floating rapidly to the surface. It’s more than just a few bubbles below the surface of the water; you’ll be able to tell when you’ve reached this point!

Tip 4:

Add the pasta into the boiling water and keep stirring it! For the best results, you should stir consistently as it cooks (and don’t cook it longer than the package specifies— if you get distracted easily, be sure to set a timer!). If you can’t stir the full 8-10 minutes, be sure to stir a few times throughout the process at the very least. It makes a great arm workout!

Tip 5:

Check the pasta before you dump the water. Have you ever drained the pasta without testing to make sure it’s done? It’s pretty disheartening. Avoid the sadness that comes along with extremely al dente pasta and just test a noodle before you get rid of the water that took you so long to boil!

Tip 6:

Many chefs recommend saving about a cup of the pasta water before you drain, as it can be mixed into the sauce/pasta combo to avoid clumping. If you want to give this a shot, by all means!  

Tip 7:

Drain your pasta well in a colander, but DO NOT rinse under cold water! It will rinse away good starches and nutrients that you want to have on your pasta (plus it will make it cold, which defeats the purpose of having a steaming hot plate of pasta that you so desperately craved). Mix the pasta directly into the sauce.

Tip 8:

Savor every single bite of this pasta perfection you just worked so hard to cook.

A few boxes of pasta and a few jars of sauce are great to have on hand— it might sound like a bit more work than you realized to make pasta the “right” way, but it’s truly an easy dish to make when you’re in a pinch. We carry a variety of both pasta and sauces and we would be happy to give our recommendations the next time you stop in! If you’re feeling extra ambitious, make your own sauce using one of our favorite recipes instead. Buon appetito!

RomaBlogJuly22.2

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RomaJuly08

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

A cast iron skillet is arguably one of the most versatile kitchen accompaniments. Oven-safe AND stovetop safe, these bad boys make cooking a breeze— That is, once they’re properly seasoned. A cast iron skillet is nearly useless without a good initial seasoning, and unless you purchase a pre-seasoned skillet, you’re on your own. Sounds intimidating, right? Don’t let us fool you— it’s simple, and less time-consuming than you might presume. Follow our guide to seasoning your skillet and prepare to enjoy the lifetime of delicious food it will provide you with— the options are endless.

So you’ve just purchased your very own, brand-new cast iron skillet. Now what?
• Preheat your oven to 325
• Gently rinse your skillet with a sponge and a little bit of soap and water. Dry thoroughly. NOTE: This should be the FIRST and LAST time you bring soap anywhere near your cast iron skillet— even during clean-up.
• With a paper towel or a clean cloth, wipe the inside (and outside, if you prefer) down with vegetable oil or shortening. Don’t use any other oils for the seasoning process— they’ll make your skillet sticky and you’ll never want to use it again.
• Once the inside (and outside, if that’s what you decided to do) of your skillet are lightly coated with oil, place the skillet in your oven upside-down, with an aluminum pan below it to catch any oil drippings that might fall.
• Bake the skillet itself for an hour, turn the oven off, and allow the skillet to cool completely before you remove it. Repeat as desired, but your skillet will continue seasoning as you cook with it, creating an all-natural non-stick surface.

CLEAN-UP: As we mentioned, now is the time to send the bottle of Palmolive into retreat. Your cast iron skillet is best cleaned with a gentle rub with a sponge under hot water. Soap will get into the iron, and nobody likes a soapy steak. Be sure to wipe between meals thoroughly. If your cooking session left your skillet slightly dirtier than you’d planned, we still recommend skipping the dish soap. Add some kosher salt into the skillet and rub with water to remove any bits of food. This will also help to remove unwanted tastes if you’re moving on to a different flavor palette with your next meal!

Now to the fun stuff (meaning: what can I eat next?). We mentioned that cast-irons are quite possibly a chef’s best friend in the kitchen. We weren’t lying. As long as your skillet is well-seasoned, you can do just about anything with it— even fry a couple of eggs. You can also bake in these beauties. Cornbread and brownies do well and get that perfect crispy golden crunch on the edges and top. If you’re looking for flawlessly roasted vegetables, the skillet is your go-to. And of course, there’s the meat (what we here at Roma’s live for!). While fish, especially the more delicate types, are not the best options to heat up in your cast iron skillet, a hearty steak or a couple of pork chops will do wonderfully. You’ll find yourself wanting to cast away all of your old pans and trade them in for cast-irons across the board.

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RomaJune22

Roma’s Guide to Grilling Fish

It’s officially summer— and it’s high time you brought some fresh surf onto your turf. We’re here to help you become a master at grilling fish; a feat that might sound daunting. Fish isn’t known for being “easy” to grill, but with our tips on how to grill and, most importantly, WHAT to grill, you’ll be planning cookouts with everyone you know to show off.

It’s important to note that not all fishes are created equal, especially when it comes to grilling. While everything might sound delicious or look similar at the store, it doesn’t cook or taste the same once you’ve fired up the grill. The last thing you want is that beautiful piece of mahi mahi crumbling through the rack of your grill, fueling the flames instead of your eager stomach. Here are the top five types of fish we recommend when it comes to throwing (read: placing with care) onto the preheated grate; and while they all play nicely with a variety of flavors, we’ve picked a few just to give you some mealtime inspiration:

Swordfish: A good “in-between” flavor on the mild to fishy scale, swordfish steaks are absolutely divine. Acidic tones only enhance the flavor, and it is summer, after all— smother with a basil-packed pesto to indulge in all the freshness the world has to offer.

Tuna: Not the “in the can” kind. Tuna steaks are hearty and hardy. They’re extremely flavorful on their own, but if you want to get a little jazzy, we recommend glazing with a mix of ginger, soy sauce and green onion.

Salmon: While this tasty fish is now common in households throughout the U.S. year-round in frozen form, there is nothing better than a fresh salmon fillet. The stronger flavor of salmon pairs nicely with a lemon and dill sauce.

Mahi mahi: Hailing its name from Hawaii, this tropical white fish has a mild, semi-sweet flavor and pairs well with other tropical delicacies. Compliment with a Thai coconut sauce.

Red snapper: A less well-known fish in our neck of the woods, red snapper fillets have a relatively mild flavor; comparable to salmon, but slightly sweeter. Pair with a mango salsa to enhance the sweetness in the best way.

So you’ve picked your grilling fish, found a recipe, and now you’re ready for your time in the sun (and we mean that both literally and metaphorically). Before you get started, here are a few tips to help you ace this grilling challenge, whether it’s your first attempt or your five-hundredth:

  • Make sure the fillets or steaks are thick and hardy enough that they won’t fall through the grate when they start cooking.
  • Clean the grate really, really well before you fire up the grill so that the fish won’t stick.
  • Preheat the grill to high— the higher temperature will keep the fish from sticking (fish cooks quickly).
  • Oil BOTH the fish and the grate before you grill.
  • The long-standing rule of thumb for grilling fillets and steaks (which is usually the cut you’ll grill when it comes to fish) is 8-10 minutes for every inch of thickness. Cook for a tad longer on the first side, and only flip once.
  • Grill with the lid down to lock in moisture and flavor.

TASTY TIP: Enhance the flavor of any fish on a charcoal grill by adding wood chips into the charcoal. Soak the wood chips in water, wine, or another liquid of your choice for about 30 minutes just before grilling; place the chips in the charcoal, and grill as normal! They’ll come out with a nice, smoky flavor.

Good luck, happy grilling, and don’t forget about Roma Foods when you’re hailed the next Grill Master!

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RomaJune11

The Perfect Meal for a Backyard Bash

For vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, when you think of summer foods, chances are you’re thinking of the delicious, seasonal fruits and veggies that come along with. There’s nothing wrong with giving up meat for a night– and with this tasty pairing you’ll WANT to give your meat up. Balsamic glazed portobello mushroom caps on the grill can be dressed up any way you’d like; and a watermelon & feta salad combines sweet and savory for the perfect side dish. This meal is optimized to serve 4; but you can easily manipulate to suit your party size or personal tastes— and you can get everything you need to make it right here at Roma’s (in other words, we’ll see you soon!).

For the mushroom caps:
Ingredients:
4 Portobello caps
Balsamic glaze (we recommend Classic Cream from Isola— it’s made in Italy and can be found at Roma’s!)
EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Be sure to clean off excess dirt from your mushroom caps— to do so, take a damp paper towel and wipe the top of each shroom off. Cut the stems below the “rim” of the cap and then place each mushroom gill-side up in a large Tupperware. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. When you’re ready, fire up the grill, pop the shrooms on (gill-side up), and grill for about 10 minutes (we flip for maximum grill potential). Optional: Towards the end of their time on the grill, take a couple slices of our fresh Swiss cheese and stuff it into the cap so that it melts! Once your mushrooms are at rest, drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Stack them onto fresh, locally made rolls, delivered fresh every morning from your favorite bakeries in the Capital Region (like Perreca’s!) and top with sauteed peppers & onions!

For the watermelon & feta salad:
Ingredients:

½ large watermelon, cubed (about 8 cups)
6 oz. feta cheese crumbles
And your secret ingredient to tie the whole meal together… Balsamic glaze!

Directions:
Place watermelon cubes in a bowl and then sprinkle with feta crumbles. Drizzle with balsamic glaze, serve, and eat up!

We hope these recipes inspire you to get outdoors and get grilling! Here’s to spending another beautiful summer amongst those we love so dearly— we wish you days and evenings filled with sunshine, delicious food, great conversations, and happiness. Saluti! (that’s “cheers”, in Italian!)

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How to Keep Your Produce Fresh Longer!

RomaMay25

Keeping in theme with the exciting freshness of spring, we know you’re all aching to buy fresh produce. There’s absolutely nothing better than a fridge well-stocked with delicious, freshly picked fruits and vegetables. It’s enticing, bright, and offers boundless potential when figuring out what to make for dinner. The unfortunate thing about fresh produce is that it doesn’t stay fresh forever. We’ve compiled a list of easy steps to take to keep your fresh foods fresh as long as possible— and while it might require a bit more work, you’ll save yourself so much money in the long run.

Certain fruits and vegetables can’t be stored together— some contain a hormone called ethylene that they release as a gas, causing other fruits and vegetables to ripen too soon, spoiling them before you’re ready to eat them. Among a long list of ethylene-producing produce are apples, avocados, bananas, blueberries, tomatoes, potatoes, green onions. Among an equally-long list of those that are sensitive to ethylene are unripe bananas, cauliflower, cucumbers, strawberries, watermelon, spinach, squash, eggplant, sweet potatoes, lettuce, garlic, and kale. With this information in mind, keep things that are sensitive to ethylene away from things that produce ethylene; and if you want to make something ripen more quickly, expose it to ethylene.

Other produce should be kept in a cool, dark place like a cupboard, because they’re sensitive to light. This is why potatoes grow spuds on them if you leave them out on the counter where light can get to them. Keep potatoes, onions, and tomatoes in said cool, dark place until you’re ready to use them to keep them ripe as long as possible.

Leafy greens are always a tough and frustrating one— just when you’re ready to wash and eat them, they’ve started to rust or turn. To keep this from happening, make sure they’re dry and place them in an airtight container or plastic bag with a little bit of air. Make sure whatever vessel you put them in is sealed tight, because air will speed up their spoiling process.

If something begins to spoil, discard it immediately— otherwise it will start to spoil your other produce! Be sure that you’re only buying what you need. We create a lot of food waste simply by buying more than we can consume (and think about all of the money you’re throwing away when that whole bag of oranges grows moldy!). Be conscious with your consumption— and don’t forget that Roma’s is right around the corner with all of your fresh, local produce when you need it.

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Seasonal Produce, Brought to You by Warmer Weather

RomaMay16.2

Upstate New York has a climate that fluctuates pretty dramatically throughout the year, so if you prefer to buy your groceries with the seasons and keep it local in the process, it can get a bit limiting at certain points. That’s why spring is so exciting: We become exposed to a much wider selection of produce than we’ve had access to in months. Throughout the Spring and Summer months, the availability of fresh local produce is almost unlimited (or at least, that’s how we feel!). This is the perfect time to cultivate your appreciation for what’s in season, and take full advantage of the freshness of it all— and we’re hoping to make it a little bit easier for you!

Here are some great options in season in New York State throughout May and April:
Arugula
Spinach
Potatoes
Fava beans
Green onions
Scallions
Radishes
Asparagus
Mushrooms
Broccoli (late May)
Rhubarb (late May)
Strawberries (late May)

Closer to June, the ballgame changes a bit:
Carrots
Beets
Corn
Cabbage
Summer squash
Peas
Most of the May-April produce is also still available during this time!

In July, things take a turn for the sweeter, with much of the early Spring produce still available as well:
Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries
Apples
Cherries
Melons
Peaches
Eggplant
Tomatoes
Zucchini
Peppers
Cauliflower
Garlic

Even if you purchase things like berries and peppers year-round, we hope you’ll take advantage of the delicious locally grown ones when the time comes! Buying your food locally and with the seasons is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while ensuring that you’re eating healthy foods— and you can visit Roma’s to view our selection today!

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Roma’s Guide to Grilling Season

We’re not all crafty outdoorsmen/outdoorswomen— Not everyone can live in perfect harmony with nature, and that’s okay. But all too often, spring comes around and we get excited about the warmer weather, vowing to get outside as much as possible while we can. We eagerly anticipate the warm sun on our faces and the sweet smell of fresh-cut grass, literally itching to get out there and enjoy every second of it as soon as you have the opportunity.

And then all of the sudden, your car is buried under 6 feet of snow, and you’re left wondering how three seasons passed you by and you “really” made it outside less times than you can count on one hand.

It’s grilling season, everyone! Don’t let it pass you by. We’re here to tell you how to make the most of it, and enjoy every second— because the unfortunate truth about living in Upstate New York is that the weather is unpredictable and not always fully enjoyable, as beautiful as it is to live here (but really, in our defense, we’re known for having some of the harshest winters in the US— we deserve bragging AND complaining rights).

Plan on getting outdoors:

This means: Plan on using the grill, shucking the corn, getting herbs from the garden, and anything else you can possibly think of that gives you ample reason to get outside more. If you’re in charge of meal plans and/or cooking, plan on grilling at least a few times a week. It’s delicious, quick, and easy; and it gives you the chance to get the whole family outside (because our kids all love shucking corn so much!).

Eat outside:

Set up a dining table outdoors! We don’t all have a lot of space, but you can find something that will work for you, and it will be well worth it. There is nothing better than enjoying the sunset or some conversation while eating dinner with your family out on the deck or patio. And if you don’t have a deck or patio, set up in the driveway! As long as you’re together and enjoying each other’s company, that’s all that matters. Your whole family will appreciate and remember it.

Host cookouts— Lots of them!

What’s easier than a cookout? The answer is just about nothing. Throw some meat and veggies on the grill for a few minutes, and you’re good to go. Have your guests bring a side of some sort— we all have that one friend who’s famous for a to-die-for potato salad that vanishes before the grill’s even fired up. We always recommend that you strongly encouraging them to bring it. Use paper dishes for a super easy cleanup (just make sure you recycle them after!). These cookouts don’t have to be extravagant! The purpose is to enjoy food and get people together. You can invite 2 friends or 10 (but the more friends you invite the more food you have!)

We truly hope that you enjoy the outdoor grilling season— Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to get outside and have the experience you’re longing for, but when you finally get to turn that grill on and unwind with family and friends, you’re creating moments that you’ll never forget. Enjoy your loved ones this grilling season— we’ll be doing the same! And if you’re looking for some fresh meat and vegetables to throw on the grill, you know that Roma’s has you covered for that; and our helpful staff is more than happy to answer any grilling questions you may have! We’ll see you next time!

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April13-300x251

Why You Should Be Using More Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, henceforth referred to as EVOO. Either it’s a staple in your diet or you’ve got some lying around in a cupboard for the occasional tablespoon or two when a recipe calls for it. Whether you’ve heard good things or bad things about it, the point is, you’ve heard of it. We want to clear up some of the confusion surrounding EVOO— we use it extensively, and we’ve also done our research. We’re hoping that by reading this, you’ll come to know, love and understand the wonders of EVOO— if you don’t already.

Studies have shown that regions where a Mediterranean diet is followed have significantly fewer cases of heart disease, cancer, and obesity. The key ingredient in this diet? You guessed it. EVOO. Of course, there are many other factors in this diet, so to say that olive oil is the sole reason for a healthy lifestyle in these regions would be naïve. But considering the huge amounts of EVOO consumed here and the research done on the matter, there does seem to be a link between healthy hearts and this “wonder oil”.

EVOO FAQs:

What does “Extra Virgin” mean, and how is it different from its non-Extra Virgin counterparts? Contrary to popular belief, all “Extra Virgin” means in reference to olive oils is that it was pressed through mechanical means rather than chemical means. Acidity is also a factor in the classification of olive oils— EVOO has acidity levels lower than .08%. It’s also tasted before classification to ensure quality. Another important distinction between EVOO and other classifications of olive oil is that EVOO is unrefined, meaning that it hasn’t been treated for any flaws within the oil itself. Refining olive oil might remove flaws, but it also removes important antioxidants that make olive oil so healthy in the first place. If you want a quality olive oil with no added chemicals, we recommend going Extra-Virgin.

Isn’t olive oil high in fat? Yes. It is. It’s high in GOOD fats, called monounsaturated fatty acids (but they prefer to be called MUFAs). MUFAs are the key heart-healthy factor in the Mediterranean diet that we mentioned earlier! Without making this a biology class, MUFAs have tons of health benefits that lower risk factors for heart disease, while other kinds of fats increase your risk. Replacing ingredients such as butter or margarine that have trans fats and other kinds of fats that clog arteries and raise cholesterol with EVOO can be a super easy way to improve your health with very little effort. Of course, you won’t see any changes overnight, but you’re taking one step closer to a healthier lifestyle. Just make sure you’re eating foods that are high in MUFAs instead of those high in other fats, not in addition to them. And remember, everything in moderation!

What else does it do? Olive oil is literally magical. It does everything. Okay, not everything, but it really does work wonders. First, it works as an anti-inflammatory. Second, it’s a natural lubricant and moisturizer, making it great for hair, skin and nails— there are tons of people who use it regularly as a beauty product, making hair masks or skin moisturizers using olive oil as the base ingredient. You can even use it as shaving cream. Let us know if you dream up any other uses for EVOO— we’d love to hear them!

So, if you’re not using EVOO regularly, you should be— it’s great for you! And you can find olive oil in all forms right here at Roma’s :) We’ll see you soon!