Ah Speedy Romeo. The Restaurant? The Pizza? The race horse? Yep, Speedy Romeo is all of these things. But I like to concern myself with the first two…..the restaurant and the pizza.
Speedy Romeo is a true neighborhood restaurant, tucked away in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. Is it a schlep to get to? Yes. But holy shizzle, is it worth it.
At first look, Speedy Romeo is a pizzeria, with many of the pies paying homage to Chef Justin Bazdarich’s midwestern roots. But there is much more than pizza on the menu, so leave room for a little of everything. There are at least 7 pizza selections available at lunch, brunch and dinner. Pizza selections can change a bit….but here are a few to be on the lookout for:
The Speedy Romeo, a grilled piece of dough topped with ricotta, marinated tomatoes, basil and pickled peppers. You’ll soon know how to make this one at home.
The Saint Louis, with mozzarella cheese being replaced by Missouri’s famous Provel cheese (a tangy combo of swiss, cheddar and provolone) and topped with sausage, pepperoni and Speedy Romeo’s famous pickled peppers.
Provel also makes an appearance in the Dick Dale, an upscale version of the hawaiian style pizzas of my youth. Speck replaces the ham and fresh pineapple chunks are standing in for the flavorless canned variety you remember.
You also can’t go wrong with Speedy Romeo’s Margherita….or any of their pizzas for that matter. But don’t fill up on just pizza. Save room for the variety of outstanding appetizers and perhaps my favorite steak in New York City…a generous cut Kansas City Strip served with salsa verde, toasted garlic and crisped potatoes. A jar of their famous pickled chili peppers will be on your table, and are fabulous spooned atop almost any of their appetizers, entrees and pizzas.
It you can’t get to Speedy Romeo, I’m bringing a little of it to you today. Their namesake Speedy Romeo pizza…it makes a wonderful light entree/lunch for four, or do as I do and cut the pizzas into small pieces to serve at a parties. You can thank me later.
The Speedy Romeo (makes 4 6-8 inch pizzas)
I use smaller sized dough balls for this grilled pizza, as I find it easier to grill the smaller pieces of dough. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can use a stove top grill pan.
1/2 recipe Basic Pizza Dough (2 balls of dough, each ball cut in half and leaving you with 4 small balls of dough)
1 and 1/3 cups fresh ricotta cheese (use an artisinal/home made style if you can find it)
1/4-1/2 cup pickled peppers (recipe at end of article)
2-3 ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed through garlic press
handful of fresh basil leaves
olive oil for pre-grill brushing and drizzling atop final product
Combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, vinegar, and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss and let sit for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
On a well floured surface, roll or press dough balls into a 6-8 inch rounds….it doesn’t have to be perfect. Transfer dough round to a pizza peel or cutting board. Brush with olive oil.
Carefully flip onto heated grill (on medium heat for a gas grill) or grill pan that is over a medium flame. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
Any imperfections will be covered with toppings, so don’t worry about a perfectly round pizza. When dough starts to puff and is cooked on the bottom (2-5 minutes), flip over to finish cooking.
Cook another 3-5 minutes. Remove from grill and spread 1/3 cup ricotta cheese over top of each pizza crust.
Top each with 1/4 of the marinated tomatoes.
Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of the pickled peppers over each pizza, then a few leaves of torn basil. Sprinkle each pizza with salt and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Cut into slices and serve immediately.
Speedy Romeo uses Thai finger chili peppers for their pickled peppers. I couldn’t find these, but had poblano peppers from the farmers market in my fridge. Poblanos made a nice substitute, but you can use any peppers that you prefer.
1 cup seeded, thinly sliced chili pepper
1/4 cup water
1/4 white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Place peppers in an 8 ounce jar, squishing down if needed.
Bring water, vinegar, sugar and salt to boil in a small sauce pan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour hot liquid over peppers in jar, filling jar to top.
Cover with lid and let sit on counter for a few hours. The peppers can be made ahead of time and stored in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.