The family that cooks together

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.