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Wood-Fired Pizza Darling Speedy Romeo Permanently Closes Its LES Restaurant

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The pizzeria’s original Clinton Hill outpost is “doing just fine,” according to chef-owner Justin Bazdarich

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The front windows of a restaurant are covered in plywood, while a menu is visible through a glass casing Gary He/Eater

Wood-fired pizza darling Speedy Romeo has permanently closed one of its two New York City restaurants. The grates at the pizzeria’s Lower East Side went down earlier this month, and chef-owner Justin Bazdarich confirmed to Eater that Speedy Romeo LES will not be reopening. “We’re putting all of our eggs into one basket with the Brooklyn location,” he says, which remains open for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining.

The popular Lower East Side pizzeria quietly closed its doors a few weeks ago due to the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic. Despite pizza being one of the most ordered delivery items during the pandemic, Speedy Romeo’s sourdough pies are designed for immediate eating, and business had dropped by as much as 90 percent, Bazdarich says. “Not knowing if we’re going to be able to seat inside again, we couldn’t stay open,” he says. “It just wasn’t sustainable.”

The restaurant’s Brooklyn location — housed in a former auto-body shop on the corner of Classon Avenue and Greene Street in Clinton Hill — is “doing just fine,” according to Bazdarich. Business is down around 30 percent compared to the restaurant’s pre-coronavirus numbers, “but that’s pretty good right now,” the chef-owner says. Bazdarich didn’t comment on why the Clinton Hill outpost hadn’t been hit as hard, but the restaurant’s sprawling corner restaurant has significantly more outdoor seating than its sibling on Clinton Street, a small one-way road just off the Williamsburg Bridge. That, and some say the pizza was better at the original than the LES offshoot.

Consolidating Speedy Romeo under one roof has also helped Bazdarich cook up new plans at the Brooklyn location, including a full breakfast menu with wood-fired bagels, breakfast burritos, and bacon, egg, and cheese brioche sandwiches that debuts on Wednesday, September 9.

The original Speedy Romeo opened its doors in January 2012 and quickly developed a following for its doughy wood-fired pies, which often come accompanied by eclectic toppings like lox, quail egg, thousand island sauce, and truffle ranch dressing. The pizzeria started as a favorite among neighbors — and later, grew into a NYC pizza destination. The restaurant opened its second location on the Lower East Side in March 2016.

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