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Tony Roma's

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Tony Romas - The Sands Hotel, Reno

  • May 12, 2005
  • by
Pros: food, prompt service, general staff

Cons: that change thing

The Bottom Line: Hey .... Is that rib sauce on your mouth or you just happy to see me?

Several years ago I went on some obscene rib feasting while on a 10 day stay in Ft. Lauderdale. Ten nights and I had ribs every darn night. Man, don’t ask me what was up with that but I couldn’t get enough. Well, that boat trip to the island for the rib dinner, it was a bit over the top and probably stopped my craving. But midway through the gorging I dined at Tony Romas. Umm, umm, good - that’s what Tony Romas is - umm, umm, good. [to coin a phrase]

Tony Romas may be famous for their mouth-watering baby back ribs but they offer other food if you are in the mood. Why, I don’t know, but sure you can get your steak if that is your pleasure. They offer 5 different steaks, cooked to your order. They no longer offer “Rare” as an option for cooking, or non-cooking as it were.

Steak choices are Top Sirloin, Filet Mignon, Border Style Sirloin, Port Porterhouse and good old New York Strip. The NY and Porterhouse are 12 oz portions, Sirloins are both 10 oz and the Filet is an 8 oz serving. Steak dinners come with cole slaw and your choice of French Fries or Baked Potato or their famous Ranch Style Beans. All are served on a bed or onions and garnished with merlot mushrooms. Prices range from $16 to $30 for steak dinners. I don’t have the specific breakdown, I just remember browsing the menu.

Maybe it is light munching you are interested in or an appetizer before your meal. Either way, they have a nice enough appetizer menu that could also serve as a light lunch or evening meal. There is the Spinach Artichoke Dip - even typing that hurts me. It is served with tortilla chips, sour cream and salsa.

Potato Skins are topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and sour cream; Fried Mozzarella Sticks come with marinara sauce.

You can get hot Buffalo Wings with celery sticks and Bleu Cheese or Carolina Honeys Tenders, which are fried chicken tenders (what we poor folk call chicken fingers) that come with fried onion garnish and Ranch dressing.

For a light lunch or generous appetizer, you can get the Triple Play Sampler which consists of Buffalo Wings, Potato Skins and Fried Mozzarella Sticks, served with a variety of dipping sauces.

If you still haven’t found your niche well here it is - the Onion Loaf. It’s a big ole thing, a hand-cut Spanish onion that is breaded and deep fried then served with sauce. You can get it in a full loaf or half loaf. Diane ordered the half loaf and half of that was still on the table when we left. That thing is obscene but she seemed to enjoy the dang thing.

But let’s face it kids, it’s ribs I’m after and ribs I’m gonna get. Personally my favorite is the one and only Original Baby Back Ribs. You can get full or half slab and they come with their original sauce. You can order up a different sauce but I stick with the standard. Dinners come with fries or baked potato or those dang beans and a side order of cole slaw. They also serve hot, fresh cornbread with the meal.

I’ve seen the full rack, no way could I handle that one but I’ve seen other adult females that did. I usually order the half rack which comes with about 10 medium sized ribs. Ten ribs ain’t no slouch along with the sides. The meat is always moist and tender, falling from the bone with ease. Sauce is just the right amount, not running down your arms but a bib wouldn’t be a bad idea. The price for this half rack runs about $15, not a bad deal.

They also have the Bountiful Beef Ribs . Let me talk about these things. They look like human leg bones lying on your plate. They serve up about 6 of these babies on the plate and it looks like the plate is bowing under the weight when it is delivered to the table. I watched three young virile men devour them at a nearby table and it scared me. You can have your choice of sauces on these ribs and they come with the same side dishes as the baby backs.

Other rib dishes include the standard St. Louis Ribs in full or half slab, the St. Louis Rib Sampler which comes with a dozen ribs in four flavors

The Tony Romas in Reno was utilitarian. Two smallish rooms that sat about 30 each, one smoking and one non-smoking. These rooms were fully separated, not a little divider wall separating the ‘haves’ from the ‘have nots’. Walls were papered in some obnoxious stripe paper that reminded me of home and a faux fireplace sat at one end of the room.

Seating staff was courteous and all business. No slackers standing around at the reservation table discussing their date from the night before. Nothing is more aggravating or unprofessional. I don’t care what they discuss when there is no one waiting, but when a customer is nearby they should keep it a business like atmosphere. These people did.

There were tables covered with plastic table cloths. Over the plastic cloths they drop a paper sheet. At the end of the meal they just wad this thing up and throw it away. Seems like an extra expense to me since they already have a heavy plastic covering under the paper and it could be easily wiped down. Real plates are used as well as real silver, no plastic and paper in the service materials. Tables sat 4 people, booths were also available that sat 4-6 people.

Nothing fancy was wasted on the overall appearance of this eating establishment but maybe that was because it is in a casino and they figure people are basically in and out anyway. I remember the place in Florida was nicely decorated and seemed warm and friendly.

Our server was sharp and quick. You didn’t linger with a half full glass, even though we were only drinking water. He was prompt in taking the order, stopped by often to check on the quality of the meal, and discreetly removed dishes as they emptied.

His one downfall, one that I find way too often these days, when he stopped by to pick up the tab for the meal he asked that fateful question - “Do you need change?” Come on, let’s be realistic. We had thrown down a $100 bill for a $30 meal. In that case alone I considered it ridiculous but under normal circumstances I consider it just rude.

I’ve been a waitress and I would have never asked that question. My common monetary comment to a customer would be “I’ll be right back with your change” offering them the opportunity to say “No, keep it” or “Thank you”.

The World of Tony
Tony Romas has been around since 1972 and has over 250 restaurants in over 25 countries. They are known world wide for those Baby Back Ribs and their outstanding sauces. I’ve been pleased every time I have visited their restaurants, this was my second trip to this location in Reno.

It is located on the casino floor of the Sands Hotel, Reno Nevada. Open until midnight seven days a week. Well worth the trip.



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Susi Dawson ()
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A casual dining restaurant, Tony Roma's has built a reputation based on its delicious barbeque ribs.
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