The dilemma at Tony Roma's was always the same when the restaurant was located on N Dale Mabry Highway south of Ehrlich Road. You never knew which ribs to get: baby back, honey, smoked or beef.
A consistent choice could be made only after much consideration and several samplings, but just when most in Carrollwood had narrowed their selections, the problem was eliminated when the restaurant closed in 1993.
Now Tony Roma's and the joyful quandary is back, and this time there is a solution to the rib riddle. A corporately owned Tony Roma's (the previous restaurant was a franchise) is now open at 11702 N Dale Mabry Highway in the Main Street Plaza. The ribs are just as good as before, and the menu has been expanded.
One of the newest selections is the star-studded sampler, which offers four of the restaurant's five choices. It's a good choice for first-time patrons or longtime fans who suffer from indecisiveness.
The baby back ribs are considered the house specialty and are the easiest to handle. The beef ribs are meaty, with a smoky flavor. There's also spicy ribs made with five types of pepper.
Also on the menu are chicken, seafood and steak entries, as well as burgers and sandwiches.
The fact that Tony Roma's offers lunch with several specials and entrees _ the sampler is reduced from $12.99 to $9.99 _ might be one of the best kept secrets in Carrollwood. _ ERNEST HOOPER
11702 N Dale Mabry Highway; 963-RIBS
HOURS: Sun.-Thu.: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-midnight. (Lunch is served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.)
PRICES: Lunch, $4.99 to $9.99. Dinner, $5.49-$13.99