Chef Missy Robbins, who helped make Chicago's Spiaggia a destination for the Obamas, has opened a restaurant on a quiet stretch of Union Avenue in Williamsburg. The A Voce vet is cooking up rustic Italian at her restaurant Lilia, with a focus on handmade pastas and seafood and meat cooked in a custom-made wood grill diners can peek at through the open kitchen. The former auto-body shop has been given several refinements including handmade tiles and wooden banquettes, but the refurbished iron casement windows are original in keeping with the neighborhood's love of all things vintage.
The restaurant's menu hasn't been completely set in stone for the opening weeks, but the focus is on simple dishes from around Italy. Starters include Cacio e Pepe Fritelle, a nod to the Roman pasta dish, and Grilled Chicories (think winter lettuces like radicchio) with Meyer lemon and aged Caprino cheese. The pastas in particular sound enticing, especially the Whole Wheat Spaghetti, smoked ricotta, pepperoncino and espresso. Rounding on the entrees, varies takes on swordfish and red mullet, a spicy grilled clam dish and Wood-Grilled Chicken with flavors of the south including crushed olives, capers, garlic, dried tomatoes and mint.
The restaurant, which is partially owned by the same folks behind nearby Jimmy's Diner and Greenpoint's Anella, serves a full sit-down dinner every night from 5:30 to 11 p.m. but there's also an on-site cafe open at 7 a.m. where people can swing by for takeout. In the morning, pastries and different types of focaccias, followed by sandwiches, cookies and soft serve gelato for lunch. Starting at 5 p.m., the space becomes a cocktail bar.
Next time the first family comes to NYC, perhaps they'll stop by to say hello.
567 Union Avenue, 718-576-3095; lilianewyork.com