Photo by Dominic Perri

243 DeKalb Avenue


Sunday to Thursday 5 to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday and Sunday brunch noon to 4:30 p.m.


Some people didn’t know what to make of it when Andrew Tarlow (see Diner elsewhere in this list, or any of several of his other ventures — Marlow & Sons, Reynard — that could easily merit inclusion) revamped his Bonita space in Fort Greene in late December 2009, switched from family-friendly Mexican to grown-up Italian, and reopened as Roman’s. Whaddaya mean, the menu changes every damn day? Whaddaya mean, the pasta plates are teensy? Whaddaya mean, I can’t make a reservation? But chef Dave Gould stuck to his guns, banking on the long-term appeal of carefully sourced, seasonally available ingredients and simply but painstakingly prepared dishes. All the little things, in other words, done right. Who’s complaining now? Only the people too impatient to wait for a seat. The narrow, white-painted space is spare but intimate, with about as many tables as you have toes and a roughly equivalent number of stools at the marble-topped bar. Service is confident and low-key. A Valentine’s Day visit brought an even smaller menu than usual — and a memorable meal highlighted by a pesce-perfect spaghetti alle vongole and duck breast done to a turn with salsa verde and potatoes fried in duck fat on the side. Maybe it was the amorous nature of the occasion, but so smitten were we with the roasted oyster presented as a starter that we requested (and received) an encore for dessert. Don’t go looking for a long list of specialty cocktails; Roman’s flies by the seat of its drinking pants, too. As you might expect, the wine list zeroes in on Italy. As you might not, Lee Campbell — she’s wine director for all of the Tarlow group’s restaurants — has been spotlighting the wines of Slovenia and Croatia of late. (But don’t hold us to that — she's previously focused on single producers and regions like the Italian Riviera.)