Walk into Speedy Romeo’s Lower East Side location, and you’ll probably think to yourself, “This looks like a bar. Or a pizza place.”
Maybe you’re someone who walks around narrating their life, and you literally registered, “Note to self: this restaurant looks like a bar. And many people are eating pizza,” into your brain’s voice recorder system. Then you might wonder if other people also narrate their lives as if they were Morgan Freeman doing the voiceover for a National Geographic documentary. Or maybe you’re just normal and noticed it indirectly. Either way, you’re definitely going register that vibe somehow, because the Lower East Side space does feel like it used to be a dive bar, and like a place to hop on a bar stool and get involved with some pizza. There’s also the fact that the whole back of the menu is dedicated to said pizza.
Which is a bit strange, because that’s actually not what you should eat here.
While the pizza is perfectly enjoyable, the real highlights of Speedy Romeo are the more “restaurant-y” items: the octopus, the steak, even... the kale salad and the branzino.
The same is actually true of Speedy’s original location in Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy, but it feels a bit more natural in that space - an awesome, spacious converted garage on a street corner. It feels like a neighborhood landmark, and it feels like a place to order a steak or a piece of fish.
The LES Speedy makes some great food, but to get the best possible experience, you have to be OK with eating it in what’s really a dark little bar. Otherwise, get that internal monologue going again and start telling yourself to head to Brooklyn.
It looks like it snowed cheese on top of this Caesar, and that’s a beautiful thing. This is a pretty intense salad, so if you’re looking for something a bit lighter, try the kale.
Don’t be afraid to load up on the apps - they’re some of the best things here. The big chunks of octopus with potatoes and a romesco sauce are a foolproof order.
Time to get into the pizzas. This one uses Provel, a stringy cheese that’s popular in St. Louis, plus pepperoni, sausage, and pickled chiles. The crust is thin, and it does start to fall apart as you get into the middle.
One of the underrated things about Speedy Romeo is that you can bring pretty much anyone here and they’ll find something to eat. Got someone who doesn’t eat meat? Doesn’t like tomato sauce? Direct them to the White Album, topped with roast garlic and four kinds of cheese. It’s hard to eat several slices of this, but you can try.
Speaking of things you will only be able to eat a few bites of, this is a pizza with Katz’ pastrami on top and an everything bagel crust. Is it delicious? Yes. Is it a fun novelty? Yes. Will it also give you an extra chin? Probably.
Speedy Romeo knows how to cook a steak. The smaller of the two steak options, this 16 oz. strip comes sliced into big, delicious, crispy-on-the-outside pieces. There’s a salsa verde dipping sauce, but you don’t even really need it.
Guess what? Speedy knows how to make a burger, too. Feel free to cozy up to the bar and order one.
This may not look or feel like a place to order A Nice Piece Of Fish, but you should do so without any reservations. This Nice Piece Of Fish is indeed very nice. Have them filet it for you.