You might think New York City’s love of pizza could not be any greater. Yet almost monthly, new pie shops open, people make lists in praise of favorites, and our excitement about it doesn’t wane. The passion only seems to grow. It’s one of the world’s great romances, like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Even when it’s bad, we still need it.
And now, Andrew Tarlow’s team at Roman’s has joined the ever growing list of pizza makers in Brooklyn. A few weekends ago, Roman’s manager Mike Fadem and Executive Chef Dave Gould debuted a brand new pizza service for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. This weekend we went to check it out.
Fadem—who, like the rest of us, is obsessed with pizza—has been researching what he believes makes the best crust and the best combination of classic Neapolitan toppings, for the past year.
Bread-wise, he followed a growing trend and used a natural leaven (which yields sourdough) rather than a yeast starter. But he didn’t want to let the sourdough’s signature tang get too much in the way of the pie—just enough to give it a subtle extra something. The flour comes from a small Vermont farmer, the Nitty Gritty Grain Company. Unlike traditional Neapolitan slices, which are charred rapidly at 900 degrees, and result in a soft-crust finish, Fadem’s team developed one that is cooked more slowly. It creates an outer shell that is a little sturdier, more substantial, like traditional New York style pies, and the bread itself is thicker, with a significant texture and flavor of its own. “Bread is my favorite food, it has been my whole life,” says Fadem.
Recipe-wise, there are two red and three white pies, beginning with a cheese-less Marinara pizza. Due to the lack of that standard ingredient, Fadem picked out a flavor-rich, imported Italian tomato “that is too expensive to serve in a restaurant, but we do it anyway,” because it is just that good. And, after all, they only serve it on weekends. The pie is topped with garlic and oregano and some black olives, preferred by Chef Gould. It also gets a Sicilian crude olive, Pianogrillo. If any drips onto the pan, you can sponge it up and enjoy it with your tangy end-crust.
There’s also a Margarita pie. Fadem chose a “super mineral-ly” heirloom tomato from the Mount Vesuvius region, blended with San Marzano tomatoes, to balance the mineral intensity of the first. The pie is topped with mozzarella made in-house every morning, using curd from Narraganset Creamery in Rhode Island. A little parmesan and basil are added to the Mozzarella base. My friend and I ordered this one. If I tell you to do the same, I will not be leading you astray.
Fadem and Gould next moved into white pie territory. A traditional potato recipe comes with a Porcini mushroom-infused cream, wild ramps, olive oil, and Caciocavallo cheese. Next, the pork sausage, kale, and mascarpone pie was a real standout (again, we ate this one). Tarlow’s butcher shop, Marlow and Daughters, makes the fennel-rich meat that is crumbled on top with a little bit of mozzarella. It’s baked with marinated kale, house-made Mascarpone, and a little bit of garlic. This one is fantastic.
The final selection, another white number, comes with Guanciale (an Italian bacon made with pork cheek) egg, and Pecorino cheese. The eggs are poured on after the pie is almost finished baking, and then it sets for thirty seconds, producing a soft-scramble. A little shaved Pecorino completes this dream. Fadem says it’s almost like eating Carbonara on a pie, so good luck staying away from this one
“The idea to do this was just because I love pizza, so I learned to do it, basically.” says Fadem. Traveling for and researching pizza sounds like a dream, but it also involved sacrifice. Fadem started working out and, sometimes, he says, “I just don’t eat otherwise because I’m like, I’m eating a lot of pizza.”
Pizza Brunch Service happens every Friday and Saturday from 12 – 4pm. Romans, 243 Dekalb Ave., Fort Greene.