Dude Food: Roma Express

Roma Express
1601 Main St.

It takes a big pair of pepperonis to make "Best Pizza In Dallas" your motto. But after trying the calzone at Roma Express, I plan a return visit to test that claim.

And considering the not very dude friendly stretch of real estate it occupies...I initially planned on a highbrow calzone at the kind of place with cloth napkins and no need for a hand-lettered sign threatening loiterers. But lacking quarters for the parking meter, I first ventured into a museum-like department store with glass-encased merchandise to ask a male employee wearing more makeup than my mother where I could get change. On the way out I spotted Roma Express, a shabby little every-dude respite in an area that's otherwise more fitting for "dudes" in the GQ city-boy definition of the word.

Roma Express has a second motto, as well: "New York Experience Pizza." The big, floppy slices certainly look the part. But I stuck with my original plan and ordered the calzone meal, which included a salad and 16-oz. drink. Calzones come with cheese, pepperoni, sausage and sausage/pepperoni--all the same price. Naturally, I opted for the dual-meat version. Roma's calzones are pre-made and need only a couple minutes in the oven, but I was hungry and started on the salad. Now, before you call me out, the salad had plenty of meat--salami, to be precise--along with cheese, peppers, croutons and enough dressing to leave a pool in the serving tin when I finished. But I wasn't even close to finished when the calzone arrived.

Butter glistened like sunlight glancing off the hood of a '70 Hemi 'Cuda, parmesan danced on the crust like Warren Sapp. Otherwise, I'm at a loss for words. The Italian sausage has some weight to it and the cheese blend was just right. Perhaps they could add a few more filling options, but that's just nitpicking. Here's the key: Roma's calzone is enormous--about a foot wide, more than anyone with any concern for his health would eat at one sitting.

Yeah, I'm talking about a certain associate. I've got the stomach to finish a meal.

Dude Factor: 8, or "Tony Bennett," on a scale of 1 ("Mario Cantone") to 10 ("Frank Sinatra"). I'd have been cranking the Frank if it weren't for the 50-cent drink refill policy and no alcohol, in spite of signs boasting otherwise. --Jesse Hughey

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