Tuesday, October 20, 2009

roasted romanesco

On Sunday night, as we were shaking off the lingering effects of week-long colds, G. and I gave in to our evening cravings for warm drinks and pizza. Around the corner from our apartment is a place called Roberta's. I remember when it first opened a few years ago with a cement facade and barely-visible windows, rumors whispered through the neighborhood... is there really pizza in there? Beyond the cinder blocks, you'll find the warmest, darkest, coziest pizza joint south of Vermont. Formerly an old garage, the space has been renovated with lots of salvaged wood, and decorated with low-lights, wood-burning fireplaces and family-style tables. Roberta's is a rustic retreat, absent of irony and kitsch, nestled in one of Brooklyn's most industrial neighborhoods.

While waiting for a table, we stepped outside to the garden and heated tent, where we ordered Gluhwein (unappetizingly pronounced: glue wine), a German mulled wine, spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. The drink is popular in Germany's many open-air Christmas markets. We talked to the bartender about the new roof gardens, built as a series of greenhouses above the restaurant, bringing new meaning to the term local on Brooklyn restaurant menus.

The pizzas, made in a wood-fired oven, have thin, charred crusts which can be finished with any of the menu's inspired toppings: potato, capers, egg. We ordered the Rosso (tomato, oregano, garlic) with onion and mushroom. The whole thing was pitch-perfect: a well-fired crust and onions which maintained their crunch, while the tomato held its own, not to be upstaged by the garlic and oregano.

Also on the menu, though not on our table, was romanesco (with pistachio butter, parsley and guanciale), which inspired me to chop and roast the one I'd picked up on Saturday. This preparation is very straightforward: olive oil, salt, pepper, a little dried chili. The result is delicious. The romanesco's flavor is similar to broccoli and cauliflower, but doesn't taste exactly like one or the other. There's something brighter about its taste. If you ever see this bizarre-looking vegetable at your local market (or restaurant menu), give it a shot. I'll definitely be trying it again.

roasted romanesco
1 head romanesco, stalks removed and florets separated
1 small dried chili pepper, diced
olive oil to coat

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss romanesco with chili, salt, pepper and olive oil, and roast until browned (about 30 minutes), stirring once. Serve as a side, or with any grain.

No comments:

Post a Comment