Pop-up takeout windows seem to be the new summertime must-have in Manhattan, with Huertas and Oiji doling out spiked Spanish slushies and Korean honey butter chips, respectively, in the East Village, and Big Bottom Biscuit Bar operating out of Osteria Cotta’s coffee porthole on the Upper West Side. But who would have thought that Roll n’ Roaster — Sheepshead Bay’s half century-old roast beef sandwich mecca — would be ahead of the trendlet in Brooklyn, debuting its very own off-menu walk-up for the duration of the season?
Flamboyantly adorned with R n’ R’s signature white and yellow pinstripes, the new Emmons Avenue adjunct serves a succinct inventory of just-for-the-summer items. A boon to Manhattan Beach-goers, all-beef, sauerkraut-laden, eight-inch franks undercut Nathan’s by an entire dollar (and, it goes without saying, can be liberally doused in cheez). The consummate countermeasure against 90-degree days, restorative scoops of zest-flecked lemon ice are crafted solely from sugar, water and fruit; inspired by the owner’s frequent trips to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Yet they’re still mere opening acts for that famous roast beef, rather ingeniously rejiggered as a panini. While as resplendently messy as ever—oozing forth with caramelized onions, which you should always order, along with the requisite jet of cheez—shells of hot, compressed bread allow for extra saturation in tubs of rich, pan-reduced jus.
With its enduringly accessible prices, adorably incongruous bottles of Moet, and cheez on anything you pleez mentality, Roll n’ Roaster could easily coast for another handful of decades. But 45 years later, it’s inspiring to find that it’s still actively raising the bar.
2901 Emmons Ave., Sheepshead Bay