Cube Replacement Pizza Romana Will Far Exceed Your Expectations

Pizza romana

Dominoes atrocities aside, pizza and fried chicken are not exactly two things you might associate with each other. New York style pizza and buffalo wings? Sure. But individual size, quick fired Italian style pizzas alongside southern style spicy fried chicken doesn’t necessarily feel as simpatico.  After all, you wouldn’t expect 800 Degrees to turn out a delicious fried chicken any more than you’d expect Popeye’s to start selling a perfectly cooked margherita. And yet that’s exactly what you’ll find at the newly opened Pizza Romana on La Brea.

Formerly Cube Marketplace and Cafe, and still owned by the same people, this new fast casual pizzeria is clearly meant to compete with the new wave of quick serve pizza joints that have sprung up all over L.A. in the past 3 years. The pizzas are mostly $9 and $10, and come out quick with ingredients like proscuitto, broccolini, and buffalo mozzarella. But there is one important Cube holdover that differentiates Pizza Romana from 800 Degrees, Pitfire, Blaze, and the rest.

Their fried chicken.

If you were a big fan of Cube you probably have fond memories of their fried chicken.  Cube was always an overachieving wine and cheese bar which happened to have a great chef, Erin Eastland.  She took her talents to Milo & Olive 2 years ago, but before she did she gifted them with one of the best fried chickens in the city.  Billed as half a semi boneless fried chicken, with two sides, it was crunchy, salty, spicy and practically perfect.  The biggest problem was the price.  It was $28 no matter what time of day, inspiring more than a few meals spent praying to the food gods that one day, somehow, we’d be able to get this chicken at a more Midtown Lunch’ish price.  Well, those prayers have finally been answered.

Pizza romana

In addition to pizzas, salads, panini, and some side dishes, Pizza Romana’s menu also has something called “The Best Fried Chicken Ever!!”  for $15.  And it is practically identical to Cube’s fried chicken in the most important ways. Sure it’s a bit smaller and doesn’t come with two sides.  Plus, it seemed like only white meat to us even though it said 1/2 chicken on the menu.  But honestly, no dark meat aside, there wasn’t too much opportunity to care.  The crust is still its same crunchy, salty, spicy self and apparently they’re using the same Mary’s chicken as before.

Pizza romana

You can also get boneless chicken tenders as a side dish (with the exact same dredge) for $8, or those same chicken tenders stuffed in pizza dough bread as a panino w/ potato chips for $9.  I know it’s early days, but this sandwich might have to be in contention for top 5 best chicken sandwiches in the city.

Pizza romana

Oh right, there’s pizza also!  The fried chicken honestly would have been enough for me to get excited about this place, but don’t sleep on the pizza.  The company that owns Pizza Romana makes most of their money as an importer, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they import their dough frozen from Italy.  What is surprising is how good the pizza is for the price they’re charging. The style is somewhere in between 800 Degrees and Sotto, but their pies don’t get as soggy in the middle as the former and are $5-8 cheaper than the latter.

The pizza is so strong it makes you wonder if their business model is even sustainable.  There was always talk that Cube was just a showpiece for all those gourmet imported goods being sold on their shelves.  And one has to wonder if there isn’t some bigger plan in motion here that involves using this place as a loss leader or a future price hike.

Then again it’s probably best not to ask questions in situations like this.  Just keep your mouth shut, and go enjoy this spectacular pizza and fried chicken deal while you still can.

Pizza Romana, 615 N. La Brea Ave. 323-939-1148


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