November 12, 2018 | BITE: My Journal
Missy Does Misi in Brooklyn
Missy Robbins conducts the symphony at the kitchen counter of new Misi in Brooklyn.
Missy Robbins never meant to settle in Brooklyn. She thought of herself as more the West Village type. But then her partner found that great-looking body shop on Union Avenue. They fashioned Lilia, bringing hungry Gullivers across the bridges. "Brooklyn Bait" I called it. Click here to read it.
Grilled baby artichokes with mint salsa verde are savory and full of Italian flavors.
No need to stretch her dance. Robbins’ bright new Misi is walking distance from Lilia in the historic Domino Sugar Refinery. Just a few weeks old, there’s already a daunting queue for reservations. I’m not willing to wait, so I take advantage of being a critic, and dial her cell. I’m remembering that prime corner table at Lilia, covered with bowls of pasta.
Memory of the array of pastas on the table at Lilia makes me hungry en route to Misi.
Fettucine with buffalo butter, extra aged Parmesan and black pepper.
Here there’s a glass-enclosed lab for kneading, rolling and cutting noodles, and filling tortellini -- pasta fresh every day to be dished up in 10 different formulas by a crew in the open kitchen. Guests can watch can watch the plating from the counter while they eat.
Small pasta rounds of occhi are filled with sheep’s milk ricotta and topped with bottarga.
On the seemingly endless drive, brutally misled by our Google map, I’m growing hungry. I remember the handmade mafaldini laced with pink peppercorns at Lilia. Now the five of us are pacing a bit in the crush around the entrance, not wanting to seem favored folk as we wait for our designated table to clear.
Oil-soaked chanterelles are spiked with garlic and flecked with rosemary. Maybe add a squeeze of lemon.
Missy leaves her post directing the kitchen and comes by. Our cheeks brush. They have asked for their check, we hear. Still we wait. Is there enough staff? How long will the house take to bus our spot? Can’t we sit now? In 1969 I wrote a piece called “Brooklyn, Come Hungry.” Click here to read it. Now I’m here. I’ve come hungry.
Misi fans, clustered together, waiting for their table, can watch the action in the open kitchen.
My pals are chatting, studying the menu, deciding on drinks. An olive oil martini sounds gruesome to me. But I’m not the martini type anyway. The server comes and goes, then comes again, and goes, and then we wait. It’s a wonderfully eccentric menu, just antipasti and pasta. I can live with that. My two favorite courses after all. Ryan orders a $65 bottle of wine none of us have ever heard of. Koppitsch unfiltered.
“Unfiltered.” You wouldn’t predict it would be this smooth.
There are enough small bulbs of artichoke for all of us. Could be the chef ordered an extra because we’re five.
“We don’t need the raw fennel and celery,” I announce, but no one is listening. “I can live without the spaghetti with fennel pesto and Sicilian almonds.” Antipasti start to hit the table. One or two at a time. Grilled baby artichokes with mint salsa verde, savory and full of flavors, a small bulb for each of us. We have to remind our waitress to bring serving spoons and forks. Sometimes she remembers. Sometimes she forgets.
Oil-poached zucchini cubes are tossed capers, oregano and toasted bread chunks.
Cubes of olive-oily poached zucchini are delicious tossed with capers, oregano and toasted cubes of oil-soaked croutons. It’s not easy to divide some of these vegetable starters for five of us. But we’ve ordered half a dozen to start and Missy is sending gifts -- like the grilled runner beans in garlic vinaigrette that we ignored.
I should have tossed out this blurred photo but I wanted you to see what runner beans look like.
Anchovy and pistachios add salt and crunch to Misi’s marinated leeks.
Missy’s marinated leeks go beyond the classic with anchovy and pistachios. Oil-preserved chanterelles with garlic are flecked with rosemary and a squeeze of lemon. Roasted romanesco (green cauliflower) with salmoriglio calls for the Southern Italian daubing of olive oil and lemon juice, with minced garlic, chopped oregano and parsley.
Radicchio and cipollini onions are tossed with melted bone marrow, balsamic and ricotta salata.
The green cauliflower called romanesco is roasted and dressed with a classic salmoriglio sauce.
“I know that olive oil is supposed to be good for you, but it’s filling. I’m feeling marinated,” one of our group complains. “I’ll need to take a shower when I get home.” All of us stop to consider her lament. I use the moment to help myself to two more drenched croutons. I love bread.
There’s chickpea flour in the pappardelle noodles tossed with chickpeas, garlic and rosemary.
Buffalo butter, extra aged Parmesan and a rain of black pepper flavors the pappardele.
It may not sound like much but a large spoonful from each of chickpea pappardelle (there is chickpea in the dough), fettuccine with buffalo butter, strangozzi with pork sauce, and sheep’s milk ricotta-filled occhi with bottarga can challenge anyone’s arteries. There’s no overlap with the marvelous pastas of Lilia. These are different, inspired by memory and invention. Speaking for myself: I am full, but I need to taste everything.
If you decide too much of a good thing may be too much in the olive oil gelato, try the mint stracciatella.
At Lilia dessert is soft-serve. Here it’s gelato. I sample the olive oil ice cream and the chocolate. I notice the others are equally circumspect. Even so, the mint stracciatella quickly vanishes. I could sit stupefied for a while, enjoying the musings of my companions, but it doesn’t seem fair to Brooklyn, now that Misi's waiting zone is packed.
We’re on a bridge. I don’t need to know which one as long as Ryan’s GPS cooperates. There is the Manhattan skyline up ahead. It’s an image that never ceases to thrill me, even after fifty years in New York. The Saturday night traffic is strangling. We creep. I have time to start digesting in an upright position before my head drops on the pillows.
329 Kent Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets. 347 566 3262. Monday through Sunday, 5:30 pm to 11 pm.
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