One of the most fashionable new restaurant openings of late summer is Isa, the new rustic chic Williamsburg venture from Taavo Somer, owner of The Rusty Knot, Freemans restaurant and Freemans Sporting Goods. (Not to be confused with Freemans Sporting Gifs.) Freemans' decaying beauty (reclaimed wood, distressed everything, taxidermy) has been hugely influential in downtown restaurant design and in Brooklyn, so his new joint on the corner of Wythe and South 2nd Street fits right in. The restaurant, which grows some of its produce on the roof, has been "soft open" for friends and family for over a month now, and now it's popping for real. Be prepared to wait for a table, contemplatively stroking your beard.
Chef Ignacio Mattos (formerly of Il Buco) has crafted an eclectic menu tuned to Somer's atavistic tastes. According to one report, options include filleted sardines served with their fried skeletons, whole squid roasted in the wood-burning oven and plated beside a pool of their own rich ink, and poached Cod served with pickled cucumber and a garlic aioli.
Isa, the Estonian word for father, features a wall of stacked firewood, exposed brick, wood-burning stoves, thick wooden ceiling beams, and big doors that open onto the street. In other words, a bearded urban woodsman's wet dream. Asked to describe his "primative mondernist" style, Somer tells The Moment, "It speaks to that part of us that longs for something real, organic, dirty and alive, that wants to pick up some rocks, logs, meat and cook over a fire." His new man cave seats 45, the hours are mysterious and limited, and rumor has it that it's currently BYOB.