Traditional Italian restaurant set to open shop on Richmond Street in April.
By Aja Beech
The rebirth of Richmond Street continues.
Victoria Stafford and her mother, Paula Katherine Romano, are the owners of the forthcoming Romano’s Meatballs and Co.
Their 3136 Richmond St. location is currently set to open a month from now on April 15.
“We chose Port Richmond for Romano’s because we both live in the neighborhood” Stafford said, “and would love to offer our neighbors a taste of our homemade family recipes, including but not limited to our meatballs and “gravy,” which most of you know as sauce. Richmond Street once was filled with businesses and a happening spot for the people of Port Richmond to gather and enjoy a bite to eat or a bit of shopping. We would like to help Richmond Street return to the ‘good old days.’ ”
The store will have areas to sit down and take out, but there will not be table service.
“You can come to the counter and get any food you want and sit,” Stafford said. “We’re going to have pre-made food. You can come in and get vac-packed meatballs that are freshly made, jarred gravy, which is sauce to everyone else. That’s just our family tradition”
Along with meatballs and gravy, Romano’s will carry marinated mozzarella, pepper shooters, long hots, antipasto salad, caprese salad, garden salad, chicken cutlets, alfredo, and a pasta special every week.
The women dished about something they called a “meatball hoagie,” where they put lettuce on a roll with meatballs.
Fresh baked goods, housemade cannolis, Italian ice, homemade ice cream, and what they call an “Italian Ice Cream Sandwich” — two scoops of ice cream between two pizzelles — , will be available daily.
Sandwiches and meals at Romano’s Meatballs and Co. will range from $8 to $10.
While still under construction, there is a counter area and a glass-encased display running along the rear of the store. A table top seating area will be on the west side of the store and raised countertops with stools on the eastern wall. The storefront has large windows, giving the area generous natural light and the bluish green painted wood panels give the store what they call an atmosphere of “grandma’s kitchen.”
Stafford’s paternal grandmother is originally from Port Richmond and she and her mother spent a lot of time in the area for decades before moving here permanently from South Philadelphia a few years ago.
“We are a very close-knit family,” Stafford explained. “My aunt and grandmother live right across the street, and my mom lives down the street, my uncle lives around the corner. That’s the type of family we are, and with this business, we have all chipped in. My mother and I may be the owners of this business, but together we have made this business work thanks to friends and family.”
When Star stopped in for a sneak peek, Stafford and Romano were joined by Stafford’s life-long friend Regina Boylan, and Alicia Romano, Stafford’s aunt and Paula Katherine Romano’s sister.
The owners credited Regina Boylan and Alicia Romano with being necessary supports through this process, especially as Stafford is the mother of a five-month-old and planning a summer wedding.
There never seems to be a dull moment with the Romano’s Meatballs’ and Co. ladies. They try to make sure each moment is welcoming, filled with laughter and plenty of delicious food.
“We’re excited to bring the taste of our family to everyone. This has been our dream, and we are living it out in a great neighborhood,” Stafford said.
The ladies are also excited to be based on Richmond Street, near the River Wards Cafe, and so many places serving traditional Polish foods.
“The Polish food around here is amazing,”Alicia Romano said. “I could eat that every day.”
Originally from South Philadelphia, the Romanos come from a long line of butchers.
Paula and Alicia’s grandfather, Angelo Romano, was a butcher by trade, and they look forward to continuing the tradition of bringing fresh meats to family dinner tables.
“We always had fresh meats,” Paula Katherine Romano said, “and roast pork.”
“Everyone that comes in will be family. Sunday dinner will be every day here,” Stafford added. “We just want people to come in here and feel welcome and make this neighborhood what it used to be.