New York is at peak pizza. It’s everywhere, even at eateries not ordinarily in the business of slinging pies—at Danny Bowien’s Szechuan superstar Mission Chinese Food and Bobby Flay’s haute-Spanish operation Gato. (We’re guilty too, splashing porny pizza shots across our pages for a recent cover feature.) But in this wave of everyone and their mama trying their hand at spinning dough, few get it right. Angelo Romano is one of the few.
The freewheeling chef cut his teeth at Brooklyn-swagger kitchens like Roberta’s and briefly at Concord Hill, but made a real name for himself with risk-taking, kitchen-sink cooking at Gowanus cabin the Pines, training that’s evident in the ambitious “new Italian-American” menu he deploys at 45-seat corner trattoria Rocky Slims. From an oak-fired, tile-covered hearth emblazoned with "EAT FIRE" in Italian, Romano pulls puffy, naturally leavened square pies, enriched with olive oil and endowed with a good, pliable chew. (A gas-fueled deck oven turns out budget rounds at the restaurant’s slice-shop annex around the corner.)
But it’s what tops those Instagram-ready blistered crusts that sets Romano’s pies apart: rosy-pink slips of robust mortadella offset with lush tufts of ricotta and bomba, an earthy eggplant condiment zapped with garlic and Calabrian chilies ($20); a vegetable number laced with silky-soft ribbons of pickled celery root and caramelized onions atop a sesame-seed crust ($18). Dollar-slice schlock this ain’t.
Beyond pizza, Romano’s produce-packed contorni plates—rigged with food-blog bait like celeriac, stracciatella and nduja—could verge on eye-rollingly trendy if they weren’t so well done. The toque takes ubiquitous ingredients and makes you forget you’ve tasted them everywhere else, like when that of-the-moment sausage spread combats its porky, chili-smoldering funk against crisp, clean fennel and tangerine ($12).
The name may be Rocky but, when it comes to merging the avant-garde with the accessible, Romano’s got smooth moves.
|Venue name:||Rocky Slims (CLOSED)||Contact:|
338 Third Ave
|Cross street:||at 25th St|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat noon-10pm|
|Transport:||Subway: 6 to 23rd St|
|Price:||Average pizza: $15. AmEx, MC, V.|
|Do you own this business?|