You can always expect great things from Missy Robbins, who was executive chef at Spiaggia in Chicago before coming to NYC to head up both locations of A Voce. She’s a true expert at regional Italian cuisine, and it shows at her new restaurant, Lilia (567 Union Ave., Williamsburg, 718-576-3095, lilianewyork.com).
Just a few blocks from McCarren Park, Lilia is already packed to the gills. The space is bright and beautiful, filled with natural light and cool wooden accents. From your table, you’ll likely be able to see into the open kitchen, where there’s an impressive wood-fired grill, not to mention a whole lot of bustle to feed the crowds.
The meal must begin with the cacio e pepe fritelle ($7), a dangerously decadent appetizer that fuses the best of every doughnut and mozzarella stick you’ve ever had, plus a lot of Parmesan and pepper. If you just want to go to Lilia to order that and an Aperol spritz, I wouldn’t blame you at all.
Should you continue — and you should — go for the dessert-like roasted squash ($12), which is slathered in brown butter and topped with pine nuts. And definitely get the wood-fired grilled scallops ($15), which come swimming in a creamy yogurt sauce.
Of course, my favorite part of any meal is the pasta, and that’s where I encourage you to go wild. The malfadini ($18) is perfectly al dente, frilly and feminine, thoroughly dusted with ground pink peppercorns and Parmesan; the paper-thin papardelle ($21) has a robust veal ragu; and the agnolotti ($22), which are filled with sheep’s milk cheese, are saffron-tinged and honeyed. Both sweet and savory, light and creamy, they’re the highlight of this menu and reason enough to visit.
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City.