Galdamez and Albertine. If you saw those names on a building, you might expect to see them appended with “Attorneys at Law.” That’s especially true if the building is in the area immediately north of Albuquerque’s burgeoning downtown district, an area teeming with lawyers’ offices.
Instead, the building in which Oscar Galdamez and Bruce Albertine ply their own noble trade houses a diminutive and charming dining establishment, Roma Bakery and Deli. You won’t see their named displayed in any officious self-aggrandizement manner, but it’s a good bet you’ll get to know their names soon enough.
That’s because frequent return visits are imminent, especially for hungry patrons lucky enough to live or work close to the restaurant. The Roma Bakery and Deli launched in the summer of 2006 and despite seating for only about 40 patrons, this comfy, cozy diner has already established itself as a very popular dining destination.
While delicious, made-from-scratch food is the big draw, it doesn’t hurt any that Oscar and Bruce are as outgoing as any restaurateurs in town. Oscar, who does the cooking and baking, is from El Salvador but don’t expect any pupusas on the menu any time soon. He goes to the Pupuseria Y Restaurante Salvadoreño for his pupuseria fix. His restaurant launched four months after the popular pupuseria.
Finding a place to sit during the weekday lunch hour is a challenge so a lot of people call in to-go orders, sometimes for dozens of sandwiches. An early lunch (or late breakfast), say at about 10 o’clock might be your best bet and if you’re not in a hurry, make sure to imbibe the ambience.
The first thing you see when you walk in is a pastry case under glass in which colorful, delicious looking Central American pastries and cookies are put on display. If you do succumb to the tasty temptations, you’ll be heartened to learn that these pastries don’t derive all their flavor from sugar as do many of their American counterparts.
Instead, these goodies showcase other distinct tastes. The prominent flavors on the orange raisin scones, for example, are the citrusy freshness of oranges and the sunny sweetness of sultana (golden raisins). The coconut butter cookies are indeed buttery and studded with smoked coconut flakes, but I digress…
The walls are festooned with giclee prints of original Julie Maas pastels, all very reasonably priced. Interspersed among the colorful giclees are paintings of automotive designed concepts from the 1960s, all painted by Miller Johnson, a retired automobile designer.
Still another wall celebrates the longevity of perhaps the restaurant’s oldest patron, 103-year old Vega Fahey who was profiled in an Albuquerque Tribune article entitled “Still Singing Life’s Praises.” One photograph on the article shows her crossing the street to dine at the Roma Bakery & Deli while other photos on a framed montage celebrate other aspects of her still active life in Albuquerque.
The building which houses restaurant still has old-fashioned windows which open and close with a crank handle. It’s one of the deli’s charms, along with the worldly eclectic music which plays mostly upbeat and concordant tunes continuously.
The menu features five deli-style sandwiches and two croissant sandwiches made on all-butter croissants made in-house. Four salad options, a soup of the day and two breakfast entrees (breakfast burrito and breakfast croissant) are also available.
A chocolate chip cookie is served with every sandwich. When you bite down on this cookie, you might forever swear off anything baked by an elf. The chocolate practically oozes out with each heavenly bite.
Perhaps the most popular sandwich is the 5th Street Grilled Cubano, a slight departure from the traditional Cuban sandwich Americans have embraced with a passion.
This Cubano is crafted from tender marinated pork loin and Swiss cheese with fresh spinach, pickle and a Citrus dressing (a marinade of lime and orange juices, onion and garlic) all grilled on an in-house baked Roma baguette. It is served warm and is as comforting and delicious a sandwich as you’ll find anywhere in the Duke City.
Perhaps even better (if possible) is a sandwich called The Rostisado. This beauty is crafted with slow roasted beef, pepper Jack cheese, marinated Italian red peppers, lettuce and a proprietary Bistro sauce. The roast beef is roasted on the premises (as are the pork and turkey) and it is piled high on the Rostisado. The Italian peppers (roasted and marinated in oil and oregano) are so good, you might want to order a separate Italian red pepper salad (for a mere pittance more).
A separate deli case displays the deli’s various salads, all of which appear as fresh and inviting as possible. The soup-of-the-day is made daily from fresh ingredients. Monday is green chile stew day, a cause for celebration in Albuquerque.
Roma Bakery & Deli is open on weekdays from 7AM to 5:30PM and on Saturdays from 8AM to 3PM. Make sure you get there early or you might not have place to sit.
Roma Bakery & Deli
501 Roma, N.W.
LATEST VISIT: 15 March 2007
# OF VISITS: 1
COST: The 5th Street Grilled Cubano, The Rostisado, Red Pepper Deli Salad, Coconut Butter Cookies, Orange Raisin Scone, Pumpkin Empanaditas, Raspberry Margaritas