Speedy Romeo

Wood-fired revelations that will make your lunch break worth taking

By Erik Mathes

When you live in NYC, you get used to grabbing lunch quickly and by any means necessary. Sometimes you get lucky and it’s decent; other times, well... you wind up taking two bites of your falafel before you realize you’re better off LeBron-ing it into the nearest trash can.

You may have gotten used to this, but if you want to elevate your lunch life to a much more respectable level, meet Speedy Romeo. The Clinton Hill restaurant known for superior pizzas, steaks, and seafood cooked in a hardwood-burning Italian oven has been featured on the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list every year since 2013, and has doubled down on its Brooklyn success with a second outpost in the LES.

Where the original Brooklyn spot is located in a former bar/liquor store/auto repair shop, the Manhattan location combines two former restaurants’ spaces around a marble, horseshoe-shaped bar that houses a Pavesi pizza oven painted like Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstrat” guitar. (You’ll also hear “Eruption” playing on a loop in the trippy downstairs bathroom—a must experience in itself.)
The wood-fired pies coming out of the bestriped blaze will make it beyond difficult for you to return to cardboard slices from your everyday pizzeria. “The Kind Brother” (pictured above), offers you mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, farm egg, and sage, while the “Paul’s Boutique” is calling out to you with Katz’s pastrami, Dijon bechamel, smoked red kraut, fontina, Thousand Island dressing, and an everything bagel crust. The oven is also used to great effect for meatball and chicken parm sandwiches, baked eggs with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh basil, and house-made mozzarella (pictured above), and stuffed peppers with hot and sweet sopressata, ricotta, and pecorino.

Because chef-owner Justin Bazdarich wants to make lunch remarkable again, he’s not going light on the spirits or sweets, either. Make sure you get one of his colorful cocktails, such as the “Bandito No.1,” with tequila blanco, beet, honey, lime, and firewater, or the “Piggly Wiggly,” with Bourbon, bacon amaro, sherry, and BBQ bitters. And, don’t leave without trying the olive oil cake with honey, lemon ricotta, basil, and perfectly ripe baby strawberries bursting with sweetness (pictured below).

This is how lunch is meant to be: savored and taken slow. Only in NYC would it would take a restaurant named Speedy Romeo (after an award-winning racehorse, nonetheless) to remind us of that.

Olive oil cake (Photo credit: Adeline Ramos)


Dinner: Sun–Thu 5 PM–11 PM; Fri–Sat 5 PM–midnight
Lunch: Mon–Fri 11 AM–4 PM
Brunch: Sat–Sun 11 AM–4 PM

Dinner: Sun–Thu 5 PM–11 PM, Fri–Sat 5 PM–midnight
Lunch: Mon–Fri 11 AM–4 PM
Brunch: Sat–Sun noon¬–4 PM

price range

Brooklyn: $15 (The Margherita pizza) to $78 (dry-aged rib eye for two)
Manhattan: $15 (The Marinara pizza) to $98 (30-day dry-aged rib eye for two)