Roma’s Halloween Hacks

It seems as if every year, we find ourselves in a Halloween pinch. The spooky holiday comes creeping up on us and before we know it, it’s hit us and we’re just about completely unprepared. This year, don’t let Halloween get the best of you! We’ve come up with a few Halloween hacks for two the most important parts of Halloween (food and decorations!) that you can do up in the weeks, days, and even minutes leading up to the big treat.


Food is arguably the most important part of any holiday. While Halloween draws up dreams of candy, some of us want to eat “real” food— and that’s where we’ve come in, with these delicious, time-saving tips:


  1. Breakfast: If you’ve got kids (or if you just LOVE Halloween), it’s been a highly anticipated day all year long. If you’re one of those parents who likes to make the holiday just a little bit more special, you might want to whip up a tasty themed breakfast before sending kids off to school in their costumes. We highly recommend pumpkin pancakes— you can even go so far as to stuff a plain pancake up with your kid’s favorite Halloween candies or some fun spooky sprinkles!
  2. Lunch: Whip up a few personal jack-o-lantern shaped pizzas. Whether they’re for you or to send along with your child for lunchtime, these little pizzas are sure to be a big hit. You can get dough, sauce, cheese, and any spooky toppings (black olives make great eyes!) right here at Roma’s.
  3. Dinner: Halloween happens to fall on a Monday this year— which means you can swing by and grab a few Roma’s weeknight dinners to go! They might not be in theme, but they’ll definitely save you more than a few minutes of precious time as you’re frantically putting last-minute Halloween costume pieces together (we’ve all been there!).


You can turn just about anything into a Halloween decoration with a little creativity! Here are a few of our favorite ideas— and you can make any one of these from the packaging of some of your favorite Roma’s products!


  1. Turn your olive oil tins into Frankenstein heads
  2. Take your empty sauce jars, a paint brush, glue, orange tissue paper, and some black construction paper and turn the jars into little Jack O’ Lanterns.
  3. Cut your empty egg carton into sections of 3 holders and paint them black, glue a pair of googly eyes to the side of the center holder and a ribbon onto the top of the center holder— they make adorable little hanging bats.
  4. Clean out your empty milk jug, put a set of eyes and a mouth on one side with a black permanent marker, stuff a set of white string lights into it, and voila— you’ve got yourself a little ghost lantern! Bonus points if you can create a set to line your front walkway.

We hope you have a happy, spooky, terrific Halloween, and as always, we look forward to seeing you the next time you stop in. Until next time!

Homemade Pumpkin Pie— Yes, From Scratch.


It’s that time of year again— the fall harvest is making squash aplenty available to consumers throughout the Capital Region, including one of our favorite: pumpkin. Pumpkin tastes great in a variety of different recipes, both classic and modern; but no matter where you sneak it into your meal plan, nothing beats an old-fashioned, homemade pumpkin pie. Don’t get us wrong— it’s a great treat year-round (thanks to the availability of canned pumpkin). But something about slicing through a perfectly-baked layer of pie crust and creamy pumpkin pie filling with bright leaves flying through the chilly air just completes the onset of the fall season.


There are so many recipes for pumpkin pie out there; many of them involving shortcuts to achieve the delicious pumpkin perfection that we long for year-round. To us, nothing beats the taste of a homemade pumpkin pie done the REAL old-fashioned way— from scratch. No corner-cutting. The best part? You can have this ready in about an hour.


Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 1 ⅓ c. flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ c shortening
  • 4 tbsp cold water


Pumpkin Filling:

  • 1 pumpkin (1.5 lbs / 2 c.)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ c brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses


What to do:

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.


To make the crust:

Mix together flour and salt and cut in shortening. Adding in the cold water a tablespoon at a time, mix until combined and holding together. Roll into a ball and roll out onto a large cutting board until about ⅛ inch thick.


Place your pie dish top-down in the center of the dough and cut around it, about 1 ½ inch wider than the dish. Lift pie dish, roll the dough gently into a tube, and then unroll over the inside of the pie dish and mold into the dish.

To mash the pumpkin:

Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds. Cut into chunks and heat in saucepan with about an inch of water. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to low, and allow to cook for 30 minutes (must be tender). Remove from heat, drain, allow to cool, remove peel, and mash by hand in a large bowl.


To make the filling:

Add all other filling ingredients into the large bowl with the pumpkin and blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Pour into the crust and bake until inserted knife comes out clean (approx. 40 minutes).
Top with your favorite vanilla bean ice cream and garnish your plate with a cinnamon stick, and enjoy!

Perfect Your Picnic

Roma 09.02

Regardless of the occasion, a picnic should be perfect, but with Labor Day coming up in a few days, we’re feeling extra inspired. While picnics are best when spontaneous, a little bit of planning can help tremendously in curating your picnicking experience and perfecting your day. With that in mind, we’ve pooled together a few of our favorite tips for pulling off your picnic effortlessly.

1. Decide on a location.

  • This may seem obvious, but there is hidden importance in finding the perfect location to have the perfect picnic. Think about who you will be with— if there are young children, somewhere close to a restroom is probably a good idea. If you’re looking to go on a romantic date with your significant other, perhaps you want to find somewhere a little bit more private.
  1. Decide on your menu
  • Choose seasonally-appropriate items that are fun, exciting, and, well, picnic-y. A peanut butter sandwich is easy to make, but if you eat them all the time, it might make the experience less pleasant than it could be— and it’s all about the experience. Sandwiches with cold cuts are a great option, and you can make them on-site to avoid soggy bread. Pack some fresh fruits and veggies and maybe a macaroni or potato salad, and you’re golden.
  1. Pack up
  • Whether you’re using a real, old-fashioned picnic basket or decide instead to tote a cooler or insulated bag, just be sure that everything will fit with ease.
  • To save yourself the trouble of dealing with flies and bees, we recommend packing the food in containers that have lids so that you can cover them up easily while you’re not using them.
  • If you have the capacity, bring real plates and silverware— they will make for a wonderful, special dining experience, especially if your mission is a romantic date. However, plastic plates, bowls, and cutlery are much simpler because you can simply toss them after your meal. Bonus points for using the biodegradable kind.
  • Don’t forget a blanket if your location of choice doesn’t have picnic tables readily available; and on a windy day, you may also need a few heavier items to weigh down the corners!
  1. Make it fun
  • Pack a couple of lawn games, or plan the picnic around sunset so that you can enjoy a relaxing moment with your loved ones.
  1. Phones and electronics away.
  • Encourage your party to put their cell phones and other electronic devices away, and focus on each other. It will make the experience much more enjoyable and memorable— even if your kids are reluctant to cooperate at the time! Allow a little bit of time to snap a few photos of the picnic if you’re feeling sentimental and want to share the experience with others in the future.

    Picnic season is nearing an end, so be sure to take advantage while you still can. Don’t forget that our friendly staff is always happy to make a few suggestions on our favorite picnic foods the next time you stop in!
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).



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)



  • 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):


  • (SPF 30 or higher!)


  • You’re here to bet on horses


  • How else did you get here?


  • 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


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


Cooler (the really important part)


  • To keep the beer cold


  • 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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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!


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


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:

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

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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