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Originally published January 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 31, 2008 at 11:31 PM

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Trattoria Roma really delivers - especially in its dining room

More than 95 percent of the Roma's business is delivery (free on orders more than $10), which means most customers don't get to appreciate its charms: the beamed ceiling; muslin curtains; a stone hearth; and Roma's suave proprietor, Turgay Aldemir.

Special to The Seattle Times

Italian $$ Trattoria Roma

4705 Aurora Ave. N., Seattle; 206-547-9992, www.romatrattoria.com

Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.

Drinks: Beer, wine, Pepsi drinks, Thomas Kemper sodas.

Credit cards: All major.

Access: No obstacles.

Rating: Recommended.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Pizza Greco (small)$11.25

Private Salad (small) $5.95

Macaroni and Cheese $8.95

Tiramisu $4.25

Montepulciano (glass) $4.00

Peroni beer $3.50

Tax $3.52

Total $41.42

Perhaps, like me, you've whizzed south on Aurora countless times and noticed Roma's big oval sign too late to slow down, but always meant to check it out one day.

On a recent Sunday evening, I finally did. We parked right in front; it was early, and the interior looked discouragingly dim. But the neon sign said "Open" and, through the window, we could see someone in the kitchen. By the time we got inside, the lights were lit and our welcome was warm. We were beckoned past the empty front counter to another dining room, intimate, softly lit and regrettably under-used.

More than 95 percent of the restaurant's business is delivery (free on orders more than $10), which means most customers don't get to appreciate its charms: the beamed ceiling; muslin curtains; a stone hearth; and Roma's suave proprietor, Turgay Aldemir.

Aldemir is Turkish but was raised in Germany, where his family was in the restaurant business. When he moved to Seattle six years ago, his food background trumped his training as a chemist. He set about learning the pizza business and took over Roma last May, upgrading the ingredients and expanding the menu.

In addition to nearly two dozen pies ($8.99-$22.95), there are about as many pasta selections ($8.95-$12.95 including soup or salad), as well as hot subs, calzones, salads and appetizers. Panini are coming soon.

Roma offers easy online ordering and the phone rings regularly, though unobtrusively. Busy as the kitchen was, we never felt forgotten. Aldemir is not only an amiable host but also an attentive waiter.

If mistakes happen, he's quick to make amends: When a customer's order came up wrong, he got two pizzas for the price of one.

"How's the tiramisu?" we asked, reluctant to leave. "Taste it and see," he said. "If you don't like it, you don't have to pay." We paid happily.

Check please:

Pizza Greco: The crust is thin, crisp and pliable enough to handle the whole-milk mozzarella that blankets the top. Lots of Kalamata olives and slivers of gyro meat adorn this Greek-inspired combo. There's feta tucked underneath the mozzarella, and a pinch of oregano in the zesty sauce. Tzatziki is served on the side for dipping, or slathering, if you prefer.

Private Salad: Spring mix is generously laced with salami, roasted red pepper and sweet Gorgonzola crumbles. The house vinaigrette, tart and herbaceous, is ladled copiously on top. The smaller size proved ample for two.

Macaroni and Cheese: Penne noodles practically float in a mild cheddar sauce that starts with a flavorful base of chicken broth and onion. Kids will adore it; I thought it needed a good grind of pepper. It comes with a choice of soup or salad; opt for salad. The Italian wedding soup was tepid and tasted like it went straight from the can to the microwave.

Tiramisu: It's sweet, creamy and light, spiked with coffee and dusted with chocolate.

Providence Cicero: providencecicero@aol.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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