First look: Tony Roma’s barbecue restaurant at Hilton in West Palm

Chasing 1980s Miami memories of delicious baby back ribs, most of them consumed with a glass of “Burgundy,” we ventured to the new Tony Roma’s restaurant in West Palm Beach on a recent night.

The new spot – Palm Beach County’s first Tony Roma’s location in a decade – is tucked into the Hilton Palm Beach Airport hotel in a space that’s anchored by a large bar. It took us longer than it should have to read the menu and deliberate over our options. There was no reason for this – if you grew up in Miami, birthplace of Tony Roma’s, there’s only one thing to order: the World-Famous Baby Back Ribs ($15.50 half-rack, $23 full). 

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But our server suggested the bison meatball starter ($8), which were just fine. He also mentioned that the beef ribs ($29) were huge and tasty. (Well, huge they were.) And we wondered if the roasted corn (off-cob, $3) was as yummy as it sounded. (It was.) 

A Sunday with ribs is a Sunday well spent.

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Turns out, the detours and distractions were unnecessary. The must-have dish at Tony Roma’s is the same as it ever was: baby backs, original barbecue sauce, coleslaw and fries. I swapped in a sauvignon blanc in place of that 80’s Burgundy, but that first bite of ribs took me back to feasts past. The dining room was over-lit and empty of music or vibe – it’s a hotel restaurant, after all – but the fries were crispy and the ribs on point. 

Memories aside, there’s one other dish that might become a new favorite: the Crispy Brownie Bite Sundae ($7.25 single, $14 family size). Crispy brownie cubes are hidden within a layering of vanilla, chocolate chip and rocky road ice cream, topped with chocolate syrup, caramel and whipped cream. Swoon. 

Tony Roma's: 150 Australian Ave. (at Hilton Palm Beach Airport), West Palm Beach; 561-683-6777; Hours: open Sunday through Thursday from noon to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday to midnight.

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