For all the of all allegiance that New Yorkers have for for their longstanding food institutions Roll-n-Roaster doesn't get the attention of Gray's Papaya or even Peter Luger. This might have something to do with the fact that Roll-n-Roaster is located in Sheepshead Bay, a beachside community located on the southeastern most tip of Brooklyn, and a serious hike from most parts of the city. But regardless of national acclaim, Roll-n-Roaster has been going strong since 1970.
Aside from the great namesake Roaster Beef sandwiches served at Roll-n-Roaster much of the appeal comes from the fantastically untouched 1970s decor. One a recent Saturday afternoon the orange and yellow booths were filled with families celebrating birthdays, fishermen having lunch and more bona fide bikers than I've ever seen in Brooklyn. An enormous bunch of brown, orange, yellow, and white balloons that coordinated perfectly with the color scheme of the restaurant.
I was pleasantly surprised that the roast beef could be ordered rare, medium, or well-done, an option not frequently available at counter service places. Once I retrieved my tray I found a great little pink toothpick sticking out of my sandwich denoting its temperature. And true to the marker the beef was pretty rare, thinly sliced and perfectly tender. The sweet grilled onions and generous dollop of tangy Cheez Whiz really made the sandwich along with a house made sesame seeded kaiser bun.
Cheese fries aren't something that I normally order outside of Philadelphia but Roll-n-Roaster's version was dead on. The Whiz was straight from the can (not necessarily a bad thing) and the fries were cut into a shape that I can only compare to bread and butter pickles. Salty, crispy, cheesy, and messy—some of the best I've had in recent memory.
On my way to Roll-n-Roaster I passed several intriguing waterfront Russian and Turkish restaurants not to mention Randazzo's Clam Bar and Clemente's Maryland Crab House. Sheepshead Bay is shaping up to be my summer eating destination.