There are times in your life when it’s appropriate to try too hard. The first few months at a new job, for instance, or when the person working the Trader Joe’s sample counter is describing the food you just ate, and you have to pretend like you’re going to buy it. But sometimes it’s better to be subtle - like when you’re seeing old friends and want to prove that you’re still cool, or it’s a third date and you’re trying to figure out if they like you as much as you like them. In those scenarios, you need a place like Ronan, the most sneakily impressive restaurant in the city.
At first glance, Ronan is a neighborhood pizzeria with a patio. It’s a nice patio, and there are comfortable booths and a communal table inside, but nothing about the space is unbelievable. Yet by the time the incredible burrata appetizer and the vodka cocktail that comes with it hit your table, Ronan’s greatness will start to sneak up on you. Sure, it’s a pizzeria, but you could come here with your boss to eat pork chops and a huge snapper on the candlelit patio. Or you could sit at the bar with a friend after a workout class, and share some steak tartare and pizza. You’ll probably like that pizza so much, you’ll end up ordering one of them to your door a few days later. But what makes this a big deal restaurant is that you can have an excellent meal at this pizza place without even ordering a pie. The other food on the menu is worth traveling for even if you don’t live nearby.
But let’s get back to the pizza for a second. Ronan serves it Neapolitan-style, meaning the crust is bubbly, perfectly-charred, and the right kind of chewy. You’re going to want to start with the margherita because it tastes like heaven and also because it’s the foundation for every other pie here. If you’ve never tried honey on pizza before, order the Sweet Cheeks and you’ll realize you’ve been misusing honey your entire life. But when the crust is as consistently excellent as it is at Ronan, it doesn’t matter which pizza you go with. Just pick whichever toppings you’re in the mood for and know whatever arrives will be very good.
The food at Ronan is big deal restaurant food, because Ronan itself is a big deal restaurant. Except eating here doesn’t require fancy clothes, reservations a month in advance, or checking your bank account afterwards with one eye open. Everything about this place is laidback and excellent, which is exactly how those friends who you haven’t seen in a while will describe you after dinner.
This is our favorite plate of burrata in the city. It comes to the table in a bath of basil oil and is topped with a healthy handful of pine nuts to give it some bite. It’s simple, well-balanced, and we’d drive across the city to eat it. Also, for an extra $9, you can double the portion and also get an excellent accompanying cocktail made with alize (a vodka-based liqueur). You should do that.
There are a lot of excellent steak tartares around town, and this is one of them. Topped with pistachio, olive, and parmigiano, there’s definitely a lot going on here, but just like a Celine Dion red carpet look, you’re very into it.
All of Ronan’s vegetable dishes are solid, but the foglie salad is our favorite. It comes with shaved fennel, pickled fresno, and a cucumber vinaigrette with an ideal amount of punch. This is an ideal dish to break-up what will be a very savory meal.
Just like every professional dancer starts in a ballet class, you need to start with the margherita. It’s the basis for every other pizza at Ronan and it’s also absolutely delicious. No pointe shoes required.
Aside from the electric wine bottle opener, honey drizzled on pizza is the greatest invention of our time. When combined with ricotta and guanciale like it is here, we’ll double down on that statement.
Ronan has a tiny grilled section on the menu, and this pork chop is the best thing from it. It’s definitely a big dish, so if you’re planning to order more than two pizzas, you can probably save it for next time. That said, it’s a fantastic plate of meat and totally different than anything else on the menu.