pulls out for us a limited edition bottle of Dracula 555 - created to celebrate 555 years since Bucharest was first mentioned in a document that was signed by Vlad the Impaler, the king who later became known as Dracula.
The self-confessed wine geek decants the rich ruby wine, which is aged for 18 months in oak barrels. It has a powerful fruity nose and a lighter plumb taste - it’s a hearty start to the even heartier meal.
Romanian food is rich and homely. They’re not afraid of big offal flavours, unlike the UK, where we’re scared of it unless it comes disguised in the form of a hot dog. Our loss.
Ciorba de burta (tripe soup) appears thin but it’s mightily flavoured with beef bones, garlic and cream. Long ribbons of the cow stomach is soft and springy, like a perfectly-cooked squid. Salata de vinete is smokey roasted aubergine pulped like a Romanian baba ghanoush, served with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese.
Main dishes depart a little further from what our palates are used to, but still deliver big, satisfying flavours. Sarmalute (£8) is a dish of vinegary, wellseasoned cabbage rolls stuffed with pork mince and stewed in Sauvignon sauce, served with the favoured Romanian side dish of polenta with garlic sauce.
Piept de rata (£12.50) is a challenging dish of roasted duck breast served with a thick glue-like mash of celery and potatoes.
Plain mashed potato would have been better; I’m not convinced by the wallpaper-paste texture which detracts from a very well cooked piece of duck.
Desserts aren’t the main event. We order the special which turns out to be a chocolate, mascarpone and chocolate sponge.
It tastes like it’s coated in Nutella, and is eye-wateringly sweet, but that’s tempered by a traditional Romanian coffee, which is as black as treacle and almost as thick. Like the Ethiopian coffee I tried at Habesha, the bitter, potent brew could make coffee fans gag, but it does balance out the overly sugary pud.
It’s pretty cheap here - with starters around £5 and mains starting at just £8. We splashed out on a bottle of wine for £30, but there are glasses which will be expertly recommended.
After five years it’s clear that La Roberto already has a loyal following. But should more people try it? Honestly, it’s not for everyone. Even I won’t be booking another table anytime soon. But if you’re looking for an adventure and want a real taste of Romania, then you’d be well advised to scout this place out.