You could film a 1960s movie in the dining room at Romano's, a family-style restaurant in Glen Burnie.
It is a large room, filled with purple chairs and tables covered with white tablecloths. Paintings of vines decorate the walls. Families — a party of 10 in one corner, a party of 15 in another — take turns singing "Happy Birthday" to their honored guests. A refrigerated glass case glows in one corner, displaying cakes. Stacks of containers for leftovers rest on one wall.
There are plenty of leftovers, as the portions here are gargantuan. The plate of oysters Romano ($10.95) brims with oysters stuffed with ham and spinach. The veal Parmigiana ($16.95) consists of massive pieces of breaded veal swimming in an ocean of red sauce. The calf's liver ($13.95) with onions and gravy almost overwhelms its serving plate.
The style of the food is reminiscent of another era as well. The salad, made with crisp iceberg lettuce, arrives with the dressing on the side, in plastic self-serve containers. The side dish of cooked spinach brought back memories of the version served in school cafeterias. I almost expected Perry Como, the favored Italian crooner of yesteryear, to appear.
There are modern-day crooners, I was told, who sing karaoke in the restaurant's lounge on weekends. It too is a large room, with a big bar and a sprinkling of tables draped in white tablecloths. There is also a another dining room in the back, a place where I would imagine some Knights of Columbus fellows would hold their get-togethers.
Then there is the carryout kitchen, right in the middle of the building. With all these rooms, the wait staff and customers seem to be in constant motion.
The flavors of the dishes were mild. The oysters seemed to get lost amid the spinach in the oysters Romano. The veal was overwhelmed by the sweet tomato sauce, the liver was overcooked and the fried calamari ($9.95) a bit chewy.
I had better luck on another visit eating fare from the Greek side of the menu. The gyro ($6.25), was done well. The strips of ground lamb and beef blended nicely with the yogurt sauce. The crab cake sandwich ($13.95) was also pleasing. There was plenty of lump meat, fried to a golden brown and served with solid coleslaw. The bun accompanying the crab cake wasn't much. A better choice would have been crackers.
Service was friendly but uneven. My wife's appetizer, the calamari, arrived almost 20 minutes after my oysters did. When seating us, the hostess seemed disappointed by the size of our party. "Just two?," she said.
Romano's is an old-style place. The portions are large and, with the exception of the Greek dishes, the flavors are muted.
Where: 6905 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie
Contact: 410-768-8188, romanosdining.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Credit Cards: All major
[Outstanding: ✭✭✭✭ Good: ✭✭✭ Fair or uneven: ✭✭ Poor: ✭]