Romeo's New York Pizza
On the menu
• Fried ravioli — Cheese ravioli fried and served with a tangy ranch sauce, $5
• Romeo’s signature salad — Mixed greens, tomatoes, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, raisins, craisins and grapes topped with balsamic vinaigrette, $7
• Steak sandwich — Onions, mushrooms, green peppers and cheese, $8
• Margherita pizza — Thin crust, tomatoes, fresh garlic, fresh basil and mozzarella, $19 for a large
Romeo's New York Pizza
139 S. Clayton St., Lawrenceville
-- Open since: January
-- Owners: Gene Romeo and Jeff Traub
-- Location: Romeo's is next to McDonald's on South Clayton Street near Lawrenceville's Government Annex building. The building used to house Italia Cafe.
-- Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
-- Atmosphere: When owner Gene Romeo decided to open another location of Romeo's Pizza, he looked all over Gwinnett County and found a spot in Lawrenceville, which was once Italia Cafe. Romeo gutted, painted and remodeled a majority of the inside, but kept the metal structure and stonework throughout the restaurant.
"I kept some of the stuff because I thought it looked good," Romeo said. "I've never seen metal ceilings before."
He wanted to make the place more casual though. It once held antiques and china; now it holds metal plates and pizza cutters. He painted some of the walls black and kept the others tan, and hung up several pieces of art with scenes of New York City with taxis and older men drinking cappuccinos.
Guests walk to the front counter to order food and sit while waiting for the meals to be prepared. Romeo also wanted to make his menu at the front counter fun and exciting. Instead of posting a black and white menu overhead, he painted the back wall black with chalk paint and wrote the menu on the wall in neon colors.
There is additional outdoor patio seating for those who enjoy a little sun with their pie.
-- Menu: Romeo's serves New York-style pizza, if the name of the restaurant didn't give it away. Everything on the pizzas is made from scratch, including the marinara sauce and dough.
"I'm the master of the dough," Romeo said. "I'm a detail person from the cheese, dough, marinara, everything."
All of the recipes have been passed down through generations of Romeo's family and he was exposed to authentic Italian cooking since he was a small boy.
"My grandfather taught me everything I know. We're originally from Patterson, N.J., where he owned his own pizzeria," he said. "My mother is a culinary chef, so between the two of them, I learned everything."
Romeo has owned other restaurants over the years, all Italian, but he thought running a pizzeria would suit him and his customers better. He knows how to make everything from scratch in no time flat.
"I always wondered why fast food had to be average, why can't it be great?" he said.
And that's what he and his staff strive to do.
The restaurant only serves one dessert: cannolis. They aren't made fresh on site, but Romeo orders from the best -- Ferrara's Bakery in Little Italy, New York City.
"They are the best cannolis around," he said. "Straight from Mulberry Street."
-- Things you might not know: There are two more Romeo's Pizzas -- John's Creek and Emory University.