Memorable | One of the Best
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Brooklyn’s Roll-N-Roaster was conceived as a drive-in back in 1970. They’d roast the beef and the girls would roll it out to you. After swelling to a few locations (Manhattan and Staten Island efforts floundered), the last and original stand remains in Sheepshead Bay. We know people who’ve lived in New York for decades who’ve never heard of the storied restaurant. Its isolation half a mile from the subway is probably to thank for that.
What to eat at Roll-N-Roaster in Brooklyn, NY
The dated lobby hints at a place that is more fast than good, but its sandwiches are serious. Roast beef and burgers can be cooked to either medium or well-done, the medium being pink and a showcase of the stellar beef they serve. Rolls are bakery fresh.
Good beef sandwiches are surprisingly difficult to find in New York City. The city is a dead zone between Philadelphia cheese steaks, Buffalo beef on weck, and Massachusetts’ north-shore roast beef. We think the succulent sandwiches at Roll-N-Roaster rival any of these American icons.
The roast beef menu here was doubtlessly influenced by the neighborhood’s older, statelier, jus-soaked roast beef kitchen, Brennan and Carr. We love that place too, but Roll-N-Roaster’s roadside kitsch is more our style. Also, the fries at the Roaster are vastly superior. In fact, they are superior to most fries anywhere.
The signature item is “cheez” which is shorthand for Cheez Wiz. It’s great on the roast beef, and practically mandatory on those crisp, ridged cottage fries. This glossy cheese product is good on most of the menu, which invites customers to to “put cheez on anything you pleez.” While grilled onions, peppers, and pickles are available, we usually limit our condiments to just the radiant wonder cheez — an all-in-one sauce that builds layers of flavor into almost any dish. It’s Sheepshead Bay’s answer to dashi or demi-glace. Sides of cheez are available for purchase if you’d like to add more, which many customers do. For us, they’re plenty generous with it at the counter-side pump.
We have loved Roll-N-Roaster for years, but had never bothered with the promo pizzas they push. You get a free one if you spend over thirty-five bucks. Who orders pizza from a roast beef place in Brooklyn? Well we did, and you should, too. It’s like elevated concession stand fare, sure, but it’s priced to match, and satisfying. It’s a cracker thin crust with surprisingly quality toppings, rich cheese and sweet sauce.
A trip to Roll-N-Roaster can and should be squeezed into an afternoon in Coney Island, which is just a few neighborhoods down the shore. Best of all, the Roaster is open until after midnight. To drink, there ares beer, shakes, freshly squeezed orangeade, and even bottles of Moët Champagne — the right stuff for beef that is Champagne good.
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner, Late Night|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|