The only problem with Missy Robbins's exceptional Williamsburg restaurant Lilia is getting a table. So when the acclaimed chef (and Obama favorite) opened her second Italian venture in Williamsburg, Misi, earlier this month, there was hope that one might get the Robbins experience without a struggle, at least at first. No such luck; less than a month into service, Robbins has another hit on her hands with Misi.
And deservedly so. With a succinct menu of ten antipasta and ten pasta entrees, almost all of them vegetarian, Misi packs a flavorful punch. The array of options comprises a sort of Missy Robbins's greatest hits, drawing almost exclusively on her signature pastas and vegetable dishes. You'll want to start with the charred marinated peppers with marjoram and whipped ricotta crostinis—the ingredients arrive in separate dishes, so you can assemble your preferred ratio of peppers to creamy, slightly salty ricotta.
The charred marinated peppers with marjoram and whipped ricotta crostinis. (Evan Sung)
The big whole roasted eggplant with Calabrian chili, lemon and olive oil is delightful in its simplicity; Robbins is adept at letting fresh ingredients speak for themselves, with just the right accents to make them shine. This approach is evident in the linguine with anchovies, garlic, and colatura (an anchovy-based fish sauce). Maybe it's not great date food (depending on what you're into) but it is a celebration of robust flavors commingling without shame. A safer but no less delicious option can be found in the fettuccini with buffalo butter, solo di bruna parmigiano and black pepper. All of the pasta is made in-house, in a side room with floor-to-ceiling windows for added theatricality.
The space itself is pleasant and smooth, with ficus trees planted at the center of the room, plenty of white brick, giant glass light bulbs dangling from the ceiling, and a wall of windows facing out on what is currently a construction site bordering Domino Park. There are also 35 seats arranged around the open kitchen, where Robbins and her team can be observed executing her meticulously designed dishes. Getting one of those seats will continue to be a challenge, but worth the effort.
Misi is located at 329 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn // 347-566-3262 // Open for dinner nightly