Bad Roman is the latest project from Quality Branded: the restaurant group behind popular New York City restaurants including Don Angie, Zou Zou’s, Quality Bistro, and others. The “modern and whimsical Italian spot” opened Feb. 17 in a third-floor space at The Shops at Columbus Circle and draws inspiration from around the world, including New York’s Little Italy as well as the Italian countryside. For now, Bad Roman offers dinner, but lunch and brunch will launch soon.
From the look and feel to the food, Bad Roman is a departure from Quality Italian, the group’s Italian‑American steakhouse concept, and Don Angie, its Michelin-starred Italian restaurant. It stands on its own and takes a liberal approach to the menu.
“Bad Roman is our irreverent take on an Italian restaurant,” Quality Branded founder and CEO Michael Stillman said. “In true Quality Branded form, it’s a little cheeky and definitely our most maximalist design yet.”
That maximalist design comes from GRT Architects, the team that also designed good-looking spots like Don Angie and Cucina Alba in New York and Georgie by Curtis Stone in Dallas.
The 250-seat dining room is joined by two private dining rooms with 40 seats each, and the space is outfitted with orange-hued banquettes and lush greenery hanging from the wood coffered ceilings. Locally blown glass light fixtures, trompe l’oeil (artistic optical illusions) mosaics, and intricate tilework accent the space, while floor-to-ceiling windows provide sprawling views of Central Park. An eye-catching wild boar statue watches over the dining room, and greyhound statues stand guard beside orange booths.
As for the menu, Stillman noted that the group has seen so much enthusiasm for shared plates and communal dining, that they wanted the food to be shareable.
“We had fun putting our spin on some must-have Italian menu items like garlic bread and tiramisu and made them into unexpected dishes,” he said.
Bad Roman’s menu begins with shared bites like roasted garlic babka and ‘roni cups with ranch, plus a few raw bar offerings, including cherry pepper-dressed oysters and hamachi crudo with Sicilian pistachios. There’s a selection of hot small plates like calamari fritto misto and porchetta ribs, plus house-made pastas like Osetra caviar gnocchi with creme fraiche and chives, and a large-format pasta meant to serve two people that joins whole roasted lobster with Calabrian campanelle. Steaks can be topped with chianti-poivre or truffle butter, and seafood dishes include scallops piccata and roasted branzino. Salads and small plates start at $17, while pastas and larger plates start at $24 and $34, respectively.
The restaurant’s wine list leans toward Italian varietals, and the cocktails enlist Italian spirits and flavors. Drinks include the Martini Pepperoncini with vodka, pepperoncini brine and lemon zest, and the Strawberry Sbagliato with strawberry-infused Aperol, sweet vermouth and prosecco.
Quality Branded, whose portfolio ranges from the iconic Smith & Wollensky steakhouse to Zou Zou’s, a modern Mediterranean restaurant, has carved out a significant footprint in New York. But Stillman hints that there’s more to come.
“While we can’t say too much at this stage, you will definitely be seeing more from the Quality Branded team in the near future,” he said.