January 25th, 2012

Romano’s Pizza: Just Plain Good

In 7 Words: Careful, Pizza, Flour, Piazza, Brothers, NY, Italian

Others have already written about Romano’s famed New York Style pizza accomplishments. Paul and Marc are destined to argue the merits of their thin New York Style crust until the end of time. Truth is, I’ve never had New York Style pizza in New York. That conversation is lost on me. Here are a few things I do know—Romano’s is responsible for serving fresh, hand-tossed pies and carefully prepared entrees. I also know they’re in the business of providing pizza toppings so damn good, the less you request the better. Pepperoni. Cheese. Ballgame.

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Last Friday my wife and I were fortunate enough to meet Tea and his Mrs. at Romano’s Pizza on West Gray as sort of a pre-carb loading carb load, in preparation for the 2012 Chevron Houston Marathon. In hindsight, that might explain why at mile 18, cramps were playing musical chairs with every muscle in my legs—but, I digress.

Romano’s was packed that night. The boisterous crowd conversing, laughing, eating; all completely lax or oblivious to the mere inches between them and their fellow patrons. Servers dashed. Bussers cleared. We found a table for four within 10 minutes of our arrival.

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I ordered a dinner salad with the house dressing and a 14″ pepperoni and cheese pizza. Tea went with a dinner salad and a 12″ with grilled chicken, fresh garlic, tomatoes, spinach and onions. That was easy enough.

We grabbed our seats once again in the midst of the clamorous crowd. Bitching and moaning about the work week ensued as we waited eagerly, our plastic numbers standing as homing beacons for the busy Romano’s staff.

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Just as my stomach let out a Sloth-like growl reminiscent of the time he broke them chains, bread made an appearance. This appetite whetting little half-loaf was every bit the salty, buttery, crisp goodness I had hoped for.

The prerequisite dinner salad was only serviceable, but was I really expecting something great on that front? No. Although Star Pizza’s vegetable-rich dishes have somewhat spoiled my expectations for what a salad from a pizzeria can be.

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Twenty minutes after we walked away from the sign reading “PLACE-A-DA-ORDER HERE-AH,” two piping-hot pies were placed on our table. The mere sight and smell of these culinary works that had just invaded our little corner table was enough to trigger a feeding frenzy that only Mr Gatti employees are privy to during a 12-year-old’s birthday party.

The crust was pliably soft under the weight of the heavy toppings. It remained thin until the cheese was intercepted by those soft edges. The edges were slightly crisp on the outside, showing a deep golden brown in the absence of flour and overlapping cheese. The stringy whole milk mozzarella, while immensely flavorful, was nicely tamed by an even spread of mild pepperoni. Tea’s multi-topped pizza was equally as delicious. The pieces of chicken, large slices of tomato and ample garlic were a welcome contrast to the simplicity of my own pie.

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We took back the table at the end of that night. We left nothing for the birds (birds don’t eat off tables indoors, dummy). As I write this, I already want to go back.

So, is it real New York Style? Maybe. Is Romano’s better than Star or Pink’s? That’s comparing West Alabama Ice House to Anvil Bar & Refuge, my friend. They’re both great places for grabbin’ a drink, but for very different reasons.

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Where1528 West Gray, Houston, Texas 77019
What – Pizza, Subs, Entrees, and Desserts
Wear – Casual; wear clothes or you-a no-a get-a no-a pizz-a
How much – Drinks from the fountain (strike that, reverse it) and vino!
When – Open Monday through Thursday 11:00AM to 10:00PM; Friday and Saturday: 11:00AM to 11:00PM; Sunday: 12:00PM to 9:00PM
WebWebsite

— Richard

Comments

Victoria — Friday, January 27, 2012 3:34 pm

I can’t wait to try this place out! Its funny that you mention going to Romano’s pizza as a way to do a pre-carb loading carb load. I guess you don’t go for carbs too often, and you are an athlete? I would feel the same way if I were to run a marathon after eating such heavy duty and yummy food!
Anyhow- I have to say that I’ve had NY style pizza, but it never compares to the original Italian Pizza I had five years ago in Florence- I hope Romano’s can compare! It sure looks delicious!

Richard — Friday, January 27, 2012 6:24 pm

@Victoria, I wasn’t too well prepared for this marathon. Training-wise – yes. Nutrition in the days before – no. I figured I’d just wing it.

As for the pizza, my wife studied over in Italy some years back. She still insists that authentic Pizza Margherita cannot be touched by anything in the States and yet, she likes Romano’s Pizza even more than me. Will it compare? Not sure. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed though.

Yvonne — Thursday, February 16, 2012 5:16 pm

This place is FANTASTIC! Their pizza is some of the best that I have ever had anywhere, not just Texas. It is definitely a must for anyone coming through town.

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