As a restaurant, Misi, Missy Robbins’ other, newer Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, has a lot to live up to. That’s what happens when The New York Times gives you three out of four stars, and when the only reservations available for any weekend in the foreseeable future are none at all. People will walk in here and be extra hard on you because it was extra hard on them to even make it here. I tried hard not to view my dining experience through that lens, even though it took me nearly a year and a half to finally settle on a 5pm seating at the kitchen counter, because I knew that was as good as it would get. And that annoying 15 minute walk from the Marcy St subway didn’t make that any easier.
I know I sound like an old person whenever I say this, but Williamsburg has changed a lot. I remember when restaurants here were so scrappy, and apartment buildings were bare bones converted warehouses. Now I see luxury high rises, and I would have never guessed that something as nice and pretty as Misi would set up shop here.
I was waiting for that ah-ha moment at Misi, where I would understand what all the fuss was about. I was hopeful that the charred marinated peppers with whipped ricotta would be a home run right away, but it wasn’t. I still scratch my head at this dish. The marinated peppers were wonderful on their own, but did they really need to be served with ricotta on top of country toast? Was I supposed to put the peppers on the toast? And when I did, did it really do anything?
The butter beans got close. They were homey and comforting, like a bowl of rustic cassoulet. But there’s only so much love you can give to beans. Even if they are great ones.
The chickpea pappardelle that followed was a surprising letdown. The Infatuation gave this one high praise, but I found it to be very plain and a bit flavorless. If I put my name down for a table and waited hours for this, I would be pretty upset.
I finally did have that moment, but it wasn’t until late in the meal, and it was only with one pasta dish–the spinach and mascarpone filled tortelli with brown butter and ricotta. This dish was a real star, the 1% in a sea of 10 percenters. Chubby, nuggety rich pastas is what Misi excels at, not the stripped down, basic kinds.
The hype over the gelato is pretty real as well. They are very good, and if possible, you should try to order more than just one flavor. But there are so many good Italian restaurants in Manhattan that it feels a bit silly having so desperately snagged a 5 pm table here. I could have walked into I Sodi or made a reservation at Osteria Morini with similar if not better results. Out of all the aha moments at Misi, that was the biggest revelation of them all.
329 Kent Ave. (between S. 3rd and 4th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11249