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Dec 4, 2009 06:54 AM

Roman's in Fort Greene

Went last night. It was pleasantly full but not overcrowded at 8pm.

The waiter recommended ordering the whole menu for four people, so we did. (4 apps, 4 primi, 2 secondi, 3 sides, 1 dessert) Since the menu changes every day I won't rate each dish. The food seemed mostly quite good, especially the pastas, octopus and the gelato. But it was a little hard to judge because we each literally only got a mouthful or two of each plate. For $45 each (incl. wine) I felt disappointingly un-full.

I would go again and order a three-course small-plate flight for myself just so I could actually get enough food to judge (and to be sated!). But it wouldn't be cheap to do so.

The space is cute but very loud, maybe due to the subway-tile paneling. Service was quite good. The entrance was disconcerting though: a NYC stop-work notice taped to the door, along with a scruffy sheet of white paper taped to the door crookedly with red duct tape reading, "Roman's-- OPEN". Not sure what that was all about.

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  1. It would be nice to hear a little more about the food, its an italian place?

    1 Reply
    1. re: jen kalb

      I guess it's Italian-inflected New American. One app was bacalao fritter-balls and one was thistle salad. Primis were two pastas (one with pork ragu and one sweet potato ravioli) while the mains were marinated rabbit and a seared skate wing with wilted greens. Sides were grits with sage and fontina, and collards. Like I said, the menu is handwritten and the whole thing changes every day.

    2. The stop-work notice concerns the wood-burning oven, which requires a follow-up inspection before it can be used to prepare meals for customers. According to Department of Health regulations, Roman's must keep that forbidding-looking notice on their door until the oven passes its inspection, even though the restaurant is otherwise operational.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DaveCook

        We've been twice, disappointed the first time by the menu choices and the food (we wouldn't usually order steak but the options were slim, and the steak was badly cooked and expensive), but very impressed the second when everything was more unusual and tasted great. Because the menu is so limited and changeable, what they've decided to put on it really matters. I think the night you go might also count, as our bad meal was on a Saturday night and when we were thinking of going yesterday, also a Saturday, the menu once again looked quite boring (tame pastas, egglant parmigiana, steak, chicken and striped bass for entrees). How did we know? Because they now post the day's menu online, a big improvement. We guess that Romans maybe cooks less adventurously for the Saturday night crowd. Interestingly, we went to Williamsburg for dinner instead and checked out the dinner menu at Diner, which has the same owners -- many of the options were close to identical (also chicken, steak, striped bass, eggplant parmigiana)!

      2. Not to hijack this post, but I very strongly recommend Saraghina for very good local Italian. They have a standard menu of wood oven pizzas - all of which are delicious - as well as a changing menu of small plates. No exaggeration, I have loved everything I've eaten here. I live in Clinton Hill and happily make the trip to Bed Stuy at least once a week because this place is more than worth it.

        As a big fan of Marlow & Sons, I'm disappointed to hear that Roman's has not lived up to its sister restaurants' reputation. I haven't tried it myself so can't offer an opinion, but it seems like most reviews I've read are either negative or just underwhelmed given the bar that Diner/Marlow has set quite high.

        435 Halsey St, Brooklyn, NY 11233

        1. I would recommend Dino over Roman's.. However, do not get wine by the glass.. the pours are pretty pathetic.. Also, do not get sparkling water..

          3 Replies
          1. re: Daniel76

            @ chewbie, Don't get me wrong, Roman's can be very good, but only inconsistently it seems. I actually think its highs outdo Saraghina at its best, but at least Saraghina is always very decent and if the specials don't appeal you can fall back on a pizza. (The ambiance is far far better than at Roman's, at least to our taste.) Although it's annoying how at Saraghina they bring everything at once unless you order in spurts. Last time we went we forgot about this quirk and ordered appetizers and entrees at the beginning, the waiter didn't pass any comment, and 6 dishes, hot and cold, large and small were all crammed onto the table at once.

            435 Halsey St, Brooklyn, NY 11233

            1. re: johannabanana

              Totally fair point regarding the sequencing of apps/entrees. It can be a little scattered but last time I went they did ask me if it was OK that they bring out plates as they were ready. This was, however, the only time they have asked me so maybe they are getting this feedback consistently.

              The question I have on Romans is whether or not the "highs" are worth it? Again, I haven't been so can't pass judgement but irrespective of whether people love it, hate it or fall somewhere in between, they all seem to think similarly that it's overpriced for what you get. There are a number of places both within Brooklyn and in NYC where you can get really good food at a price, but one of the things I really love about the Ft Greene / Clinton Hill dining scene is that there are alot of places that offer good "value" and people don't seem to think Romans falls into this category. What are your thoughts?

              1. re: chewbie

                The time we had a great meal, the prices didn't seem so bad. I think we had an excellent whole, grilled fish of some kind for less than $25 (but it wasn't dover sole or anything) and two fresh pasta dishes: one buckwheat pasta with honey and nuts, the other ravioli. Neither pasta was generously portioned (I think this small pasta portioning is what many people complain about) but both were quite inventive. It's not a pasta restaurant, really. In the end, the meal came out at about the same price as a meal at Franny's, which I wouldn't classify as "value" but certainly as tasty and not too overpriced (bar the wine at Franny's, which could definitely be cheaper).

                On the other occasion we went, the steak was extremely expensive (but it was a fancy cut of steak) and so we were especially disappointed when it didn't come out that well-cooked (I requested rare to medium-rare but it was basically just chewy rare, and not that black on the outside). I suggest you look online and go on a weekday when the menu looks appealing. The daily sour and bitter cocktails are very good, incidentally.

          2. We had a really awful, really expensive meal here recently. Brussels sprouts were annihilated and then luridly drenched in honey and cheese. A bucatini was unremarkable. We had one decent salad and one dud.

            But the real problem with Roman's is that for all its farm-to-table ethos, they haven't really figured out how to use their ingredients. The grass fed beef they serve here leaves something to be desired. A T-bone steak we had (for $60) didn't have good marbelization through out the muscle, leaving the meat tough and flavorless, while the fat has a pungent musky quality--it also seemed to be devoid of any salt. The brisket we had over polenta was also similarly unbalanced by the musky flavor. This is not a critique of grass fed beef--I've had grass fed with good flavor. One positive note was the service--the staff are sweethearts, casual, attractive, and smart. But sadly I think Roman's is getting lost on the way from farm-to-table in the kitchen.

            243 DeKalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205