In the couple years since it’s opened, Roman’s has become a staple of the Fort Greene restaurant scene. It’s the perfect place to have an early Sunday supper catching up with a friend – intimate, comforting, satisfying, Roman’s is that really great joint you always wished for in your neighborhood. You feel a secret pride at having a local spot that serves a daily sour and bitter cocktail and a dark chocolate & sea salt sorbet so good it could almost make you weep.

And it doesn’t make a big deal out of it. It’s not a destination restaurant and that’s precisely what makes you want to go there. It feels local, it feels like it’s all yours, even when you are rubbing elbows at the bar with fifteen others crowded around plates of gnudi or the daily crostini. It doesn’t promise elation or gourmet thrills, so when it delivers – and it usually does – it’s all the more gratifying. That’s the genius behind the Marlow partners – their restaurants insist, “I’m no big deal.” “Oh, hey, try this cicerchie puree with marinated kale, not bad, right?” Non c’è male!

Tonight my friend Sarah and I caught up over shared plates of three courses. The menu changes daily, like at Diner and Marlow & Sons, and the hardest decision is choosing what to eat when you know you may not see that special ever again.

After plenty of hemming and hawing we decided on the bibb head lettuce with a Stracchino cheese dressing and scallions for our first course. The salad was pleasingly bitter – crunchy and fresh with plenty of creamy dressing to coat the greens. For the second course, bucatini with tomatoes, olives, and house-cured tuna – I couldn’t pass up a dish with all my favorite flavors of Rome. For our third course, roasted stone bass with cucumber, farro, and yogurt. The bass had a beautiful brown crust, its richness cut by the cool crispness of the cucumber and runny yogurt. And farro…what is there left to say about farro except I could eat it every day and not miss rice or pasta.

For dessert we shared the pound cake that’s made with ricotta and what has to be corn meal and possibly olive oil, with fresh whipped cream and small, juicy strawberries. (I can’t seem to get enough of strawberries this month – before we know it they’ll be gone from the market and I’ll only have these fond memories to carry me until next year.)

One of my favorite memories from my time in Rome is doing Sunday like the Romans. A good, slow meal with family and friends early in the evening then a long stroll through the piazza, maybe a gelato or a night cap. Fort Greene may be a long way away but tonight I had all the flavors of Rome right in my backyard.

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