I spent most of Monday afternoon standing in an endless snaking line to replace my Social Security Card, accompanied by dozens of screaming children, angry mothers and a growling stomach. As the hours passed, I watched the rain fall outside the window and repeatedly cursed myself for losing that all-important slip of paper. My only salvation was the distant vision of Roman’s at the end of the nightmare and the dangerously optimistic hope that a tasteful pampering would erase the gloom.
Thankfully, it delivered in spades. Roman’s is lovely.
The model at this bar is simple and elegant: fine spirits, Italian-inspired eats, and a stark New American bistro decor. Roman’s is the crown jewel in Andrew Tarlow’s mini-dynasty of Brooklyn eateries that includes Williamsburg favorites Marlow & Sons and Diner. Like the other restaurants in this family, there is strong focus on quality, freshness, and locally sourced ingredients.
While Roman’s has a reputation in Fort Greene as one of the classiest restaurants in the neighborhood, its draw as a drinker’s stronghold should not be overlooked. The cocktail menu is attractive in its pure simplicity: There is a daily Sour and a daily Bitter. Both are $10 dollars.
“It really is something new every day,” said bartender Ryan Seaton, who was enjoying a meal despite it being his day off. “We get creative with whatever is in stock. This past winter, I even made an infusion with the juniper berries from our holiday wreaths.”
I ordered the Bitter choice of the evening, a chilled bourbon with Aperol, Pimms and a twist of citrus. The mix quickly warmed my spirits and turned my afternoon frustrations into a distant memory. As the evening progressed, the tables steadily filled with local Brooklyn literati and I dove headfirst into an excellent bowl of minestrone soup. ($13.00)
“This is the kind of place where the staff actually suggest you try one of everything and mean it.” said musician and Roman’s regular Haley Dekle, “I’m on tour all the time, and this is the kind of place I would like to have in every city.”
While standing in the middle of Dekalb Avenue, I watched the regulars file in at Roman’s, , and , realizing that this one little block speaks volumes about our ability as New Yorkers to seamlessly oscillate between a variety of genuine delights. I began to recall fond memories of years passed and made plans for future evenings.
Roman’s isn’t necessarily the cheapest option in the neighborhood, but that isn’t really the point. This restaurant delivers a casual sophistication that has become a unique and charming staple of Brooklyn, somehow acknowledging the humor and confident pretense that we simply deserve better and there’s no need to make a big deal about it. Sometimes, we all just need a little pampering.
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