La Roma - The Papalia Family

La Roma - The Papalia Family

La Roma

Owners: The Papalia Family
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
430 Preston St, Ottawa, ON K1S 4N4

Interview + Photography: Marianne Rothbauer, Rothbauer Studio

Photography  @rothbauerphoto

Photography @rothbauerphoto

Tell us a bit about yourself.

When we’re not working, we’re still eating and drinking :)

How did you get started and when did LR open its doors?

Although La Roma has been around since the 60’s, we took over in 1990 and moved to Little Italy just a few short years later. My siblings and I were very young but spent countless hours running around the restaurant, making it our playground.

Lasagna or Gnocchi? 

Lasagna, the ultimate comfort food

Favourite Item on the menu?

Our slow cooked braised lamb, it’s melt in your mouth and delicious

What does Ottawa bring to your business?

Ottawa brings us a sense of community, closeness to our neighbours, and a deep-rooted love and respect for Italian cuisine.

How do you choose the ingredients you work with?

Italian cuisine is all about simple high quality ingredients so we work with suppliers that import from Italy, local suppliers and farmers/producers for our meat, poultry and produce, whenever possible.

How often does your menu change and how do you get inspired?

Our menu changes about 3 times a year and we tweak whenever necessary by making changes to existing items or offering special features throughout the week. We all (including our Chef) love to travel so we get inspired by visiting other places and restaurants in Europe and everywhere.

What do you like most about your location and Little Italy.

Little Italy is definitely home for us. We love that we know our neighbours, feel a sense of community and are so close to so many attractions in the city. The centretown area is definitely the best place to live and work!


Is there another Ottawa business that helped you in your journey?

Our sister restaurant Trattoria Caffe Italia has been with us since the beginning. We don’t compete, we compliment!

Your family has owner LR for almost 28 years. How many generations have worked in those years?

Our parents have owned La Roma for 27 years, my brother, sister and I are the next generation to be involved in this business. We have been so lucky to have such a close extended family as well that many of our aunts, uncles and cousins have worked alongside us.

As a business owner what has been the biggest challenge?

One of our biggest challenges has been to keep up with the constant demands and changes imposed on small business by the government. Although we love our city, navigating through all the red tape is sometimes difficult for a small business such as ours. Another challenge has been competing with some of the ‘corporate’ run businesses that have opened in the city in the last few years. Luckily, we have so many wonderful friends and clients that have supported us and value family-run operations like ours in the city.

How do you unwind at the end of the day.

With a Montenegro on ice.

What will Italian cuisine look and taste like in the year 2159?

Hopefully not much different. Because Italian cuisine is rooted so much in high quality ingredients and simple traditional recipes, there is no need to for tricks or changes.  Our cuisine is celebrated in part because of its simplicity and passion. If you’ve ever traveled to Italy you would know how important food and the knowledge of where things come from and how they are made, is to everyone including children.




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