The Lower East Side has been ruled byold-school pizzafor far too long. Make way for the reign of heaving,Neapolitan-style pies with the arrival ofSpeedy Romeo, which has finally expanded after four years fromClinton Hill to Clinton Street.
Chef Justin Bazdarich put in time at Jean-Georges, and what better use of French fine dining skills thansaucy pizzas with charred, buttery-softcrusts?At the new spot, everything is still fired in the huge wood-burning oven, with thegreatest hits from Brooklyn accounted for. But it’s the newBeastie Boys shoutoutPaul’s Boutique ($22)that you’ll want to lock down. Made with neighboring Katz’s pastrami, crisped up withsmoked red kraut, fontina cheese and a drizzle ofDijon bechamel andThousand Island dressing, it has the deli’sblessing and will earn yours, too.
Elsewhere on the menu, there’s a cheeseburger topped with their own housemade Speedy special sauce, a rib eye for two and starters like peekytoe crab crostini. Something Bazdarich definitely didn’t learn in a French kitchen wasCaesar salad as finger food, with Romaine spearsdrizzled with dressing and freshly grated cheese, a stripe of anchovy laid along the center.
A mix oflow and high tables offer 50 seats, but theU-shaped marble bar that takes up the center of the room is plenty wide enough to eat along and watch the show either in front of you or behind in the open kitchen, which spans the entire back of the restaurant.Neither of the twococktails availableon a preview night stood out, and both were spoiled byhaving to pickdried flowers/spices out of my mouthafter every sip. Stick with the handful oflocal beers on tapand Italian wines.
For now, the restaurant is open only from 5 p.m.-midnight and closed on Mondays, but brunch, lunchand a 2 a.m. last callare in the works.