The criteria for tonight was either somewhere that took a reservation or an early start to avoid the dreaded two-hour wait which can be pretty standard in many of New York’s restaurants at prime time on a Saturday. The food also had to be excellent as if I was going to step away from my healthier eating regime it had to be worthy.
Roman’s had been a suggested destination for many a meal since it opened in 2009, but so far my girlfriend had managed to eat there twice without me, a fairly shocking state of affairs seeing as I am supposed to be the one wearing the chefs trousers in this relationship. Since almost nowhere in Brooklyn takes a reservation we plumped for the early dinner option.
We arrived at 7pm anxious as to the possible wait. Previous experience had led me to believe that while everything stays open much later in NY people also start much earlier, so a restaurant being full at 6pm is no surprise. Thankfully we were told around 30 minutes with the added bonus of four seats available at the bar so we could enjoy a glass of wine while we waited.
Very nice it was too. Jenny ably chose a Pinot Noir, not the cheapest on the list, but the next one up, as we all tend to do. It was in fact a very nice bottle so much so that later on it led to another. Within the promised 30 minutes we were sat down and having the daily changing menu very clearly explained by our server.
Roman’s serves a classic Italian style four course menu. Obviously there is no obligation to partake but by sharing some of the smaller courses everyone round the table should be able to have a taste. In the end we all skipped the “Third” and opted for several shared starters and pasta as our main. A good choice too, because as much as it’s an Italian menu, it’s definitely American portions.
We shared some delicious Stracitella (mozzarella before it is formed into a ball soaked in cream) on toast, fried potatoes with an olive mayonnaise, some bruschette and a rocket and parmesan salad. The simple things were just right and the cheese was stringy and creamy in a most satisfying way. The olive mayonnaise was rich and a perfect accompaniment to the crispy potatoes.
Onto the pasta. The ricotta gnudi seemed to go down very well, the verdict was both light and filling. There were good noises about the vegetarian pasta too, although it was perhaps a little light on vegetables for $15. My Bolognese was seasoned aggressively but just about within the limits.
Having skipped the third course and very much enjoying our wine we instantly decided to share one of each of the two dessert options. First up was their famous chocolate ice cream, followed by a ricotta pound cake served with whipped cream and grapefruit steeped in amaretto. The ice cream was NY Magazines pick for the Best of 2010, but it was far from that good. I don’t think I would be alone in saying, it’s not even ice cream, nor is it sorbet, but more of a frozen chocolate ganache. This is not a bad thing in itself but it was lacking in texture and while very good quality chocolate not something I would rush back for. The pound cake was more enjoyable, moist, with a hint of the alcohol and sharp citrus.
Including tip (20%) it came to a very reasonable $240 (£150). While the food is generally simple it was all executed very well. . So once again its hats off to the boys from Diner who have created a restaurant where seasonal food, solid techniques, friendly service and a good atmosphere guarantee value for money.