Baby back ribs & other reasons why we keep going back to Tony Roma’s

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Millie & Karla Reyes (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2013 - 12:00am

MILLIE: When it comes to food, our standards are very high. Our distinguishing palate defines it for us all the time. A restaurant’s location may not be the best, the interiors may not be awesome, but if the food is great, we will keep coming back.

It is very rare to find a place that has everything: the perfect location, feel-good and clean interiors, yummy and consistent food. But Karla and I both agree that Tony Roma’s is one of the very few that has all these qualities and has successfully maintained its standards for 18 years.

KARLA: When we were kids, we would often have Saturday family dinners out and Sunday lunch in our house. One of our favorite Saturday dinner spots was Tony Roma’s, which at that time had its only branch in Greenbelt. It was a place the whole family enjoyed since everyone, most especially my lolo, enjoyed the baby back ribs. I even remember how upon ordering, we would be served a crusty bread with a choice of plain or herb butter. We would uncontrollably keep asking for more bread and fight over the herb butter. We would even save the herb butter and top it on the baked potato that comes with the baby back ribs. I remember how lolo would treat the family every time there was a birthday and we would end up celebrating at Tony Roma’s. Until now, during my birthday month I make it a point to stop by Tony Roma’s for dinner. Apart from it being a tradition, it’s also because I get a buy-one, take-one entrée during my birthday month. We discovered the Friends of Tony Roma’s privilege card around two years ago. With the card, you can get a 10 to 20-percent discount depending on how frequently you dine at Tony Roma’s. They also send an e-mail the month before my birthday with a voucher of the Buy 1 Special entrée I can redeem. The Tony Roma’s card is free; you just need to inquire about it with your waiter. You also get a free appetizer as soon as you sign up. My all-time favorite appetizers are the mozzarella sticks, potato skins and onion loaf. Mom and I usually don’t order appetizers since it would be too much for just the two of us, so when I do order the half onion loaf, I end up taking home the other half. To put it to good use, the next morning, I have a breakfast omelet with cheese, mushroom, garlic and onions, using the onion loaf. Most times when I find tuna or Spam in the refrigerator, I will throw it into the omelet as well.

MILLIE: It’s one of those restaurants that you feel you want to order so many items or want to try new dishes but always end up ordering the same good stuff and have no tummy space for something new. I myself am so fond of the French onion soup because it’s so cheesy and tasty, unlike some places that serve it tasting like dishwater. I love the original baby back ribs and in my younger years could finish off a whole slab by myself! It tastes just as good as when I first tried it and sometimes, I crave for it. The sauce has that tangy, sweet-sour yet vinegary taste and I enjoy dipping my ribs in it or smothering it on the meat before it falls off the bone. My mom loved the baby back ribs, too, but enjoyed it with the baked beans and always asked for a second serving. My dad, on the other hand, would have the cole slaw and whole baked potato with everything on it as a side dish, but both of them would always share a corn on the cob.

These days, I find myself enjoying my ribs the way they did, with a variety of sidings, usually just the beans and buttered corn.

KARLA: One thing we enjoy about Tony Roma’s is its consistency throughout the years. The baby back ribs are exactly the way I remember them from when I was a kid and that is exactly why we keep coming back. When we recently dined at their newest branch in Bonifacio Global City, I noticed that they had a new menu and different items as well. I immediately spotted one that interested me: the grilled chicken breast topped with spinach and artichoke cooked in cream and three cheeses served with rice and a choice of two sides.  The spinach and artichoke topping for the chicken was rich and good, so I suppose that the new spinach and artichoke dip appetizer would be just as good. Other new items I would have wanted to try would be the Bleu Cheese Burger and the Beef Cheddar Grille Sandwich.

MILLIE: The other night, I wanted to try the Roma Sampler with artichoke dip, mozza sticks and half an onion loaf. But Karla won her way and ordered the appetizer sampler with cheesy potato skins, mozza sticks and fire wings, but still had a whole onion loaf on the side! But that’s not all; she ordered the newest item on the menu, the chicken with spinach and artichoke! It was extraordinary and delicious but I still had to have my baby back ribs and it was awesome, as usual, although I could not finish my whole rack! We even took home an order of a barbecue sampler with four different sauces: red-hot, Blue Ridge Smokey, Carolina honey and the original yummy barbecue sauce to share with the family for Sunday dinner.

KARLA: The Glorietta branch is very accessible because it is so near our outlets in Rustan’s Makati and Petron Square Dasmariñas Village. So when mom picks me up while I’m on spot check for the outlets, we end up having dinner at Tony Roma’s and it’s always a welcome treat!

There are three accessible Tony Roma’s branches in the Metro, including the newest one at the Fort. The new branch is quite big as the total capacity is about 220 pax and has available function rooms for 16 to 20 pax, perfect for family celebrations or lunch meetings. For bookings and inquiries, call 847-2178 or 828-4435 for the Fort Bonifacio branch at The Fort Complex Entertainment Center, 5th Ave. and 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, 757-1925 to 26 for the Glorietta 4 branch and 771-1388 for the Alabang Town Center branch.

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Send e-mail to milliereyes.foodforthought@gmail.com and karla@swizzlemobilebar.com. Find us on Facebook and read articles you might have missed: Food for Thought by Millie & Karla Reyes.

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