“I wanted to eat, and I couldn’t find (Caribbean fare) in Atlanta,” Ria said. “I thought if I was willing, other people like me would come. Somebody had to do it.”
The restaurant’s name is a combination of tassa, a drum used for festivities, and roti, a flatbread used to wrap food in like a burrito. Although menu items are available, most people celebrate Caribbean food by choosing from the buffet that offers a variety of Caribbean foods such as jerk chicken, curry chicken, bean stew, rice, peas, red beans, macaroni pie (Tassa Roti’s version of baked macaroni and cheese), callalou (the national food of her country), butter cassava (Caribbean root plant), coo coo (equivalent of polenta or grits) and more.
Tassa Roti uses family recipes passed down through generations of Ria’s family. A fourth-generation restaurant owner, Ria said, “My great-great-great grandmother was the first lady to bring curry from India and open a restaurant like mine in Trinidad.”
The restaurant business is in her blood. Ria said, “This is what my great grandmother did 200 years ago. I knew to do it because that’s what my mother did.” She describes the food at Tassa Roti like “home,” saying people come there because of the atmosphere.
Not only has the eatery gotten the attention of locals seeking Caribbean food, but it has gained the attention of famous notables such as former NBA player Julius Erving, or “Dr. J.” Ria said Tassa Roti was the first Caribbean restaurant chosen to cook for the NBA.
In 2009, Tassa Roti catered the NBA’s Black and White Ball at the Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead, the first time the Intercontinental allowed outside food in, according to Ria.
“When (Julius Erving) called to ask me to cater the ball, I thought it was a prank call,” she said. “It’s not everyday Julius Erving calls.” She said actor Samuel L. Jackson (“Pulp Fiction,” “A Time to Kill”) also eats there at least once a year when he visits Atlanta.
Hours of operation are Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7:45 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. Tassa Roti is located at 224 Powers Ferry Road in Marietta.
For more information, visit www.tassarotishop.com or call (770) 977-3163.