Since we liked our experience at Flour + Water Pizzeria and Flour + Water Pasta Shop, we had to try the restaurant group’s newest project Penny Roma.
Penny Roma has been open for almost a year and they’re pretty much fully booked every night. When I saw a reservation available for a random weekday (Tommaso just happened to be off that night), I snagged it as fast as I could! Penny Roma is definitely Californian-Italian cuisine but their pasta dishes tend to lean on the traditional side. We actually don’t go out for Italian cuisine often as Tommaso can be hard to please but I somehow convinced him.
Our reservation was at opening, 5:30 PM, and within 30 minutes the restaurant was full.
Their menu is meant to be shared family style which is my favorite. We decided to get a few appetizers and pastas and skipped the main dishes.
While frisée might not be everyone’s favorite type of lettuce due to its bitterness, it paired so well with the juicy sweet stone fruit. The crumbles of Grazin’ Girl Blue Cheese (similar to Gorgonzola but made locally) and the pancetta vinaigrette added richness and fattiness but the vinaigrette also packed a lot of acidity which helped balance out the salad.
The homemade focaccia bread flavored with rosemary and cracked black pepper had a beautiful browned crispy crust and fluffy interior.
Sformato is basically like a savory flan with a really creamy custardy interior. Since the Parmigiano Reggiano sformato is rich, the pickled shallots added brightness. The sweet corn and balsamic vinegar also added sweetness and umami.
We’re at the tail end of of summer tomatoes so I had to get this. The gnocchi were pillowy but still had texture and the sauce was flavored with vibrant sweet sungold cherry tomatoes and thin slivers of garlic. Simple but so satisfying.
I’m always hesitant to get cacio e pepe because it’s one of my favorite pasta dishes and I do not want to be disappointed. While the sauce is only made from two ingredients, cheese and black pepper, this pasta dish can be finicky to nail. Their version was spot on. The sauce was creamy and luscious (not stringy which can happen when they cheese overheats) and had tons of black pepper.
Another classic Italian pasta dish is agnolotti dal plin which are small stuffed pasta with beef and pork. I did like this but I prefer Belotti Ristorante e Bottega’s version more as theirs has a richer flavor.
Of course we finished off with dessert. All three were pretty tasty but I really enjoyed the chocolate hazelnut cake since it was very light.
We were both pleasantly surprised with our meal as everything was delicious. The highlight was definitely the cacio e pepe with its beautiful strands of tonnarelli coated in that impeccable Pecorino Romano and black pepper sauce. So good! Therefore, my rating is an 8.5/10.