The all-but-unmarked storefront that sheaths Roman's is one of the calling cards that solidifies the Ft. Greene newcomer as a neighborhood fit. Further inspection reveals the much-encountered trifecta of small plates, seasonal ingredients and a perpetually rotating menu.
But owners Andrew Tarlow and Mark Firth, who instituted the same concept at Marlow & Sons, have managed to raise Roman's above any categorical clichés for something far more polished.
The hand-scribbled menu (no more relying on a server's memory or a fuzzy blackboard) is a collection of loosely Italian offerings organized by course, which helps pace meals with a steady tempo and avoids the small-plates pileups found elsewhere.
And the food goes beyond Marlow's structural limitations for more thoughtful, fine-tuned flavors: One night brought us gnocchi dressed in a braised pork-shoulder ragù ($10) and, for a twist, a spelt-berry soup ($7); thick with speck, cabbage and melted Parmesan, it conjures the comfort of corned beef and sings promises against the chill of January.
Try the parsley-heavy swordfish carpaccio with chickpeas ($7) before segueing into heartier offerings, like the "steak for two" ($34)--which, on our last visit, was a primal platter of rare-as-rare-gets grass-fed tenderloin.
Like Marlow's, the wine list shares its owners' passion for French and Italian natural wines and outrageous values; you can drink very well for $35.
This is one sequel that may surpass its original.
Roman's, 243 Dekalb Ave. (between Clermont and Vanderbilt aves.); 718-622-5300 or romansnyc.com