The most exciting new uptown eatery since COVID-19 was discovered in a shopping mall.
Bad Roman at Deutsche Bank (née Time Warner) Center, from Quality Brands (Smith & Wollensky, Quality Bistro), serves “inauthentic spins on authentic Italian meals.”
When indoor eating resumed two years ago, Midtown required a huge adult feasting and partying scene without the downtown bustle.
Since opening last month, Bad Roman (Third Floor, 10 Columbus Cir.) has been the hardest spot to book north of 14th Street.
At 8 p.m., Midtown is quieting down, but things are just starting.
Bad Roman has 300 seats, twice as many as Le Rock and Monterey, two great new Midtown restaurants.
Even on Friday nights, it’s full.
Via large, club-style doors, entering Bad Roman from the eerie third level is a culture shock.
GRT Architects’ clever layout gives the huge, curving room, once Landmarc, vitality. Deco-style orange booths, banquettes, and tables provide a party atmosphere. “We’re in a mall and felt we had to do something different,” a manager said.
A dizzying whirl of hanging greenery, ice cream parlor-like globe lights, and brilliant hues offset Central Park views.
The flagship dish—a grilled, two-pound lobster with a pile of spaghetti between the claws ($95 and plenty for two or three)—looks like it came from outer space.
Campanelle pasta in spicy Calabrian vodka sauce with oven-dried cherry tomatoes, fiery cherry peppers, and shaved garlic is served with tomato-garlic butter. Finish with basil.
“It takes a little work,” the server enthusiastically told my table.
Seafood forks easily removed the succulent lobster from the shell. My pal just had to choose between claw and tail meat.
Chef Nicholas Gaube, who worked at Quality Italian on Sixth Avenue, created the lobster. His cuisine offers few calorie-conscious leaf-eaters.
Filet mignon meatballs, porchetta ribs, and sweet-and-creamy black truffle-honey whipped ricotta are rich small plates ($18–23). Pre-event overeating is easy.
The restaurant’s larger dishes—pasta $24 to $42; meat and seafood $34 to $64)—reinterpret classics “from the Italian countryside to New York’s Little Italy.”
Thankfully, the former outnumber the tourist-oriented latter. Tuscan-inspired Faroe Island fish with sun-dried tomato pesto is rarely served.
Filet mignon with cacio e pepe raviolo is another recipe that mixes classic favorites. Slice the pasta, and the filling pours into the steak, making it delicious.
A vodka-pepperoncini brine martini is too much for me.
Stick to wine. The wine list features regional Italian and California vintages and superb, affordable by-the-glass options like Casal di Serra Verdicchio and Sicilian rose Benanti that work with everything.
The mall, which houses Per Se, Porter House, and Momofuku Noodle Bar, has had a rotating door of defunct restaurants until Bad Roman arrived.
Midtown benefits the most.
Bad Roman proves the old beast has vitality. Bring earplugs and lots of food.