If you’re touring the Seven Days Battle battlefields around Richmond (see Part 1 and Part 2 on this blog), I highly recommend that you take the entire day to do so. You’ll want to walk all the trails and give yourself plenty of time to soak in the history.
That being said, you can either load up your haversack with trail mix and beef jerky… OR you can stop for lunch and give yourself a break in the air conditioning. If you do stop for lunch, the most logical place to do so would be right after visiting the Savage Station battlefield. Here, you are about the closest to civilization that you’re going to get through the rest of the tour. I do NOT recommend driving back into Richmond. Braving the traffic, the tolls, and the downtown congestion is not worth it.
Instead, try this little piece of Italy in Sandston, Virginia. Roma Ristorante Italiano is just down the road from Seven Pines National Cemetery off Highway 60. It’s not a “mom & pop” place like I usually try to visit while out on my historic trips, but it certainly impressed me. I rate it just a notch or two above big chain places like Olive Garden. They’ve been family owned and operated since 1979 by Anne and Angelo Mannino, with their sons Sal, Phillip, and Antonio. There are two locations in Richmond, one in Sandston and another in Mechanicsville. The location in Sandston was their first location before they expanded to Mechanicsville in 2013. They not only offer a great place for travelers to stop for a bite to eat, but also cater and have large private dining rooms for events.
To get there, follow directions to this address: 325 E Williamsburg Rd, Sandston, VA 23150
If you want to call ahead to check for business, here’s their number: (804) 328-6699
To check out their menu or for hours of operation, check out their website: Roma Homepage | Roma Ristorante Italiano (romaitalian.com)
Their lunch and dinner menu consists of the typical Italian dishes you’d expect, such as Eggplant Parmigiana, lasagna, fettuccini alfredo, bruschetta, and a slew of pizza combinations. However, they have a diversified selection of other eats such as cheeseburger paninis and buffalo chicken wraps for those who are looking for something a little less authentic. Throw in a moderate variety of soups and salads, a fair selection of steak, veal, and seafood entrees, and plenty of gluten-free options, and you may have a hard time picking what you want! But that’s the beauty of this restaurant, especially if you weren’t entirely in the mood for Italian when you came off the battlefield.
The atmosphere is cozy and casual, so walking straight off the trails won’t end in embarrassment (I’ve been there, believe me). The staff are friendly, welcoming, and incredibly patient. I sometimes expect a level of shortness from wait staff at these somewhat out-of-the-way places, but I was pleasantly surprised at their hospitality. The interior has a real Tuscany feel with stone-textured tiles an stucco-styled wallpaper with exposed brick that make you feel as if you’re dining in an Italian villa in the heart of Rome. Archways between rooms and corner “columns” add to this feel. The party rooms boast murals of Venician scenery with canals and gondolas.
We visited on a Monday and they advertised a pasta special, but they also have a Pick 2 lunch special where you can select any combination of a sandwich, soup, panini, or side item on their menu. We opted for the pasta special. Being the traditionalist, I went with straight-up spaghetti with meat sauce. They say you can always tell the authenticity of an Italian restaurant by its meat sauce. And y’all, this was the best plate of spaghetti I have had in years. It had the right balance of the customary seasonings and the noodles were cooked perfectly. Not too tough and not too soft. I told myself I didn’t want to overdue it, because of the trekking that lay ahead, but I totally ate that entire plate of spaghetti. My husband, who eats like a bird, went with lasagna and found that he, too, had to keep himself from trying to finish off the whole thing. We took some back to our hotel and he ate the rest later that evening. I neglected to steal a bite like I usually do, but he told me that if we ever go back to Richmond, he wanted more of that lasagna.
Overall, our experience at Roma Ristorante Italiano proved not only to be a great stopping point on our Seven Days Battle touring, but a new “must visit” whenever we make it back to Richmond.
Whenever you’re ready to resume the tour, just hop back on Highway 60 and head east. You’ll come to an intersection of Meadow Road (turns into Elko going South) with a Shell gas station on the left and Valero on the southeast corner of the intersection. Take a right and you’ll be on your way to White Oak Swamp!