Except for maybe Carbone, no Italian restaurant in the last decade has held this city’s attention quite like Lilia. The Brooklyn restaurant has a reputation that precedes itself. Among the accolades: its sheep’s milk agnolotti, reservations that book out within hours, a month in advance, and turning away Jennifer Lawrence. It’s the kind of place where customers pay hundreds of dollars to eat dinner in yurts at 4 p.m.
Since Lilia opened in 2016, its owners, chef Missy Robbins and restaurateur Sean Feeney, have expanded with a second restaurant, Misi, and, in Feeney’s case, the slice shop, Fini Pizza. Aside from a location of the pizzeria in the Hamptons, they are all located in Williamsburg — perhaps on the principle that people who can’t get into Lilia deserve somewhere to eat, too.
On Monday, Robbins and Feeney opened a third spot in the neighborhood: Misipasta, a pasta shop and restaurant at 46 Grand Street, near Kent Avenue. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was still a place you could walk into and find a seat without a wait. Of course, that could change by tonight.
Fresh pasta and jarred sauces are the focus of the new business. Nests of bucatini, pappardelle, rigatoni, and fettuccine are rolled out at the front of the shop and displayed for purchase. According to Feeney, the shop is meant to channel the Italian specialty stores of Connecticut and New Jersey, where he and Robbins grew up — except instead of canned tomatoes, it sells $29 jarred sugo made with seven cuts of pork.
Customers can order from a short menu at two counters inside, or in the large backyard, which is shaded by a grove of apple trees and has undisturbed views of an apartment complex on Kent Avenue. Unlike at Lilia, which is currently booked through late September, half of the seats are set aside for walk-ins.
There’s only one pasta dish on the opening menu. It’s nearly perfect: a tangle of spaghetti is plopped into a bowl with parsley, breadcrumbs, and bottarga — the cured fish eggs that resemble lemon zest. Almost everyone in the backyard was slurping the $24 noodles on Tuesday afternoon.
The artichoke sandwich is another early hit. Thin slices of artichoke are piled on a roll with provolone squares and mangled hot peppers. The $18 sandwich doesn’t look like much — until you cut it in half to reveal a messy cross-section of pickled vegetables. That might be one reason it’s served with a steak knife.
Some of the ingredients used in the restaurants are sold at the shop, and in theory, a competent home cook could attempt to recreate them. The whipped ricotta that goes on the popular crostini at Misi is sold in a plastic piping bag, and the green garlic butter that comes with Lilia’s focaccia is available in a $24 jar.
It’s the first storefront for Misipasta, although Robbins and Feeney have been doing business under the brand since 2019. The pair sold prepared foods during the pandemic and are currently hosting a pop-up dinner served at sea that costs $450 per person.
Misipasta is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.