Dinner Date: Roly Poly's Wraps Prove Real Crowd-pleasers

BIRMINGHAM | Monday, June 13, 2005

On the menu Among the items on the menu at Roly Poly Sandwiches: Chicken fajita sandwich: $3.50, half; $5.75, whole.

Chicken Caesar wrap: $3.50, half; $5.85, whole. Tuscan turkey wrap: $3.65, half; $5.95, whole. BarBQ steak wrap: $3.75, half; $6.25, whole. Turkey applejack: $3.50, half; $5.50, whole. By Tim Greening " Who got the No. 50?" " Mine's turkey, isn't it?" " This one has 39 on it ... I can't find 39 on the menu." Such is the peril of the group takeout order.

It was getting into the evening on a recent Monday night and the newsroom was packed with a few hungry souls. They needed dinner, I needed a Dinner Date restaurant review.

We threw two stones at one bird. We ordered takeout from Roly Poly Sandwiches, a new chain on East 70th Street, and did a group review.

The restaurant is so named because all of its sandwiches come in the form of a wrap, i.e. meats, veggies, cheese and condiments wrapped in a tortilla instead of on bread.

Tucked away in the shopping center that also houses Shogun and Dominic's, the eatery has a bright, appealing dining room, as well as a few tables outside for cooler nights.

The menu offers 50 (50!) varieties of sandwich, plus a build-your-own option where you pick the fillings. They are sold half (six-inch) or whole (12-inch) and you can get them grilled or cold. For the health-conscious, there are veggie-only wraps and low-carb options.

There also are soups and sides, like pasta or potato salad.

We each ordered a different 12-inch sandwich and enjoyed them very much. (And most of us either shared half of it or saved it for later, it was so big.) Here are our individual reactions: Chicken fajita sandwich (mine): Terrific, a combo of chicken breast, Cheddar cheese, tomato, onion, bell pepper and a tangy fajita sauce that is grilled and served hot. It came with a side of salsa for dipping but I actually preferred it without. The sauce that comes on it is delicious enough that you don't need salsa.

BarBQ steak sandwich: "I'm loving my wrap. And I think I have an answer to the eternal question 'Where's the beef?' It's in a Roly Poly sandwich/wrap.

The steak pieces are really chunky, juicy and especially (and surprisingly) tender. I say surprisingly because even though I've never had them before, usually whenever you order something with the word "steak" in the name you end up getting scraggly slivers of what they might call "beef" but what looks and tastes more like beef jerky. But this wrap had chunks and chunks of steak that tasted like charbroiled, grade A, prime beef.

Everything in the wrap was well seasoned, maybe it's the barbecue sauce or something, but it's really hickory-smoked and tangy. (Amber Mobley) Turkey applejack sandwich: It was the right blend of taste and wholesomeness ... it went down well. It had a hint of apple butter that did not smother the excellent turkey taste. The honey mustard dressing added a great zing to the meal. First-rate stuff! (Eni Tagore) Chicken Caesar sandwich: For someone on a diet (Weight Watchers), half of the Chicken Caesar wrap was enough to fill me without being totally devoid of taste. The wrap had just enough Caesar dressing to season the sandwich without drowning out the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes and the saltiness of the avocado. With all those ingredients and the cheese, the wrap had a lot of different flavors going on and yet they seemed to be meant for each other to make each bite a perfect one. It's definitely my new must-crave sandwich. (Angela Cason) Tuscan Turkey sandwich: It had wonderful layering of flavors consisting of artichoke hearts, basil and sundried tomatos. This wrap is a great way to introduce beginners to a food like artichoke hearts, which explode with flavor but often are passed over because they are not a staple food. As much as I enjoyed the wrap, I did feel it was a tad salty.

The pasta salad was an excellent reimagined Greek salad, as clumps of feta cheese and sliced olives danced for my tastebuds with rotini pasta in a peppery vinegarette. (Francis McCabe) So mission accomplished. Their hunger is sated and I have my review.

I guess that's a wrap.

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