Lilia

Restaurants, Italian Williamsburg
5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(8user reviews)
 (Photograph: Cayla Zahoran)
1/6
Photograph: Cayla ZahoranRigatoni Diavola
 (Photograph: Cayla Zahoran)
2/6
Photograph: Cayla ZahoranProsciutto at Lilia
 (Photograph: Cayla Zahoran)
3/6
Photograph: Cayla ZahoranCacio e Pepe Fritelle at Lilia
 (Photograph: Cayla Zahoran)
4/6
Photograph: Cayla ZahoranRicotta Gnocchi with Broccoli at Lilia
 (Photograph: Cayla Zahoran)
5/6
Photograph: Cayla ZahoranSheep’s Milk Agnolotti at Lilia
 (Photograph: Cayla Zahoran)
6/6
Photograph: Cayla ZahoranLilia

If a new restaurant is lucky, it’ll have one destination dish that piques food-geek interest and draws New York’s increasingly discerning eaters across bridges and through tunnels for a mere taste. Lilia—the airy Williamsburg pasta parlor that simultaneously serves as the kitchen comeback and solo debut from acclaimed A Voce vet Missy Robbins—has an entire menu of destination dishes; the biggest problem you’ll have here, other than scoring a free table, is picking a favorite.

Maybe it’s Robbins’s ricotta gnocchi ($19), delicate cheese dumplings covered in a thatch of vibrant, verdant broccoli-basil pesto studded with nutty pistachios. Or is it a deceptively simple bowl of bow-shaped rigatoni ($18), rendered sweet from crushed San Marzano tomatoes and spicy from a prodigious zap of chilies and black pepper? Dreamboat agnolotti ($22), tenderly filled with soft sheep’s-milk cheese and stained sunset-yellow from saffron-laced butter, is also a top contender and the most likely to cause Insta-snapping swoons.

But, despite Robbins’s obvious proficiency with pasta—the chef scored a Michelin star for her refined work at A Voce before departing in 2013; prior to that post, she regularly served a pre-presidency Barack and Michelle Obama at Chicago’s Spiaggia—her signature dish may very well be, of all things, a casual starter of fritters ($7). Rather than usher out yet another plate of voguish cacio e pepe, Robbins rejuvenates the ancient recipe as snacky, savory doughnuts: crispy, fresh-from-the-fryer hulls dusted in Parmesan and pepper give way to a cheese-oozing core that recall San Gennaro street food (in a great way).

It’s a clever riff, but like much of the menu, it’s no cheap trick. A prosciutto antipasto is updated with smooth parmigiano butter and mustard seeds soaked in balsamic ($12). Beneath a cloak of house-pulled mozzarella, garlic bread is imbued with a subtle brininess, courtesy bottarga ($9). And grilled littlenecks arrive like newfangled clams casino, crammed with buttery bread crumbs and a healthy dose of lip-swelling Calabrian chili ($16). These are nonna staples with 2016 standards.

Robbins’s cooking throughout is exceedingly smart, assured and refreshingly consistent. The chef holds court at a counter that separates the bustling open kitchen from the sprawling, skylit dining room, performing quality control on the tenderness of a lamb leg as it’s pulled from a roaring wood-fired grill and the spice level of the salsa verde that coats a dish of black bass and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes ($27). (It’s just right, FYI.) That attention to detail renders even the most straightforward preparations—like crimped mafaldine barely dressed in Parmigiano-Reggiano and pink peppercorn ($18)—stunning in their simplicity. Ingredients are sparsely listed on the menu, but not out of some coy Brooklyn minimalism—what you see is what you get at Lilia. And trust us, you’ll be happy with what you get.

By: Christina Izzo

Posted:

Venue name: Lilia
Contact:
Address: 567 Union Ave
Brooklyn
11211
Cross street: at North 10th St
Opening hours: Daily 5:30-11pm
Transport: Subway: L to Lorimer St (Metropolitan Ave)
Price: Average main course: $23
Do you own this business?
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|8
1 person listening
tastemaker

I think the best part of Lilia is really the thrill of it. Actually getting the reservation and finally making it to try this crazy hyped pasta was fun. We waited 30 minutes for our table even with a reservation, but they have a cute cafe in the back with cocktails and coffee to make the time pass. 


The restaurant itself was beautiful and spacious. In terms of the food, despite the hype, I wouldn't say everything on the menu was incredible. Don't get me wrong - there were definitely some standouts. I wanted to swim in the honey sauce that the agnolotti with sheeps milk cheese came with, the fettuccine with spicy lamb sauce had such a delightful kick and the balsamic mustard that came with the prosciutto platter was life changing. But, there were plenty of just average dishes. I'd say overall, the parts were better than the whole. 


I think it's a great NYC bucket list spot. I can see visitors and parents really enjoying it since it's got a different, more relaxed vibe than the city. Now that I know my favorite dishes, I'll be back! 

tastemaker

My girlfriend came here months ago and has not stopped talking about it. She's literally had dreams about it. If Lilia was a person, she'd leave me in a heartbeat for it. So before I went, this place had pretty high expectations. And it met all of them.


My meal at Lilia was probably the first time in my life I ever left an Italian restaurant without ordering a single red dish. That is to say, there's a lot more to Italian beyond marinara. The veggie starter with anchovy dipping sauce was particularly memorable. Fresh and plump raw veggies with a savory sauce was the perfect way to begin a meal.


As for your entree, my advice is to split a pasta and a protein with your partner. I speak for her when I say that you literally cannot order wrong though. Lilia has received a stupid amount of praise over the past couple years, and I have to say... the hype is REAL.

tastemaker

So tasty! But just another place that's VERY expensive for like 3 bites of pasta. I guess its expensive to get those flavors, but I like to be STUFFED when I'm done a plate of pasta, which I'm not a Lilia. Impossible to get a reservation we got there at 5:30 and only had to wait 45min to get a table outside or at the bar, which was better than I would have thought. Our waiter was helpful and friendly and they are very prompt with clearing plates and cleaning up! The location and decor are stellar as well! Come here for an entree but maybe get some cheaper drinks and apps before hand around the corner. 


How do I sleep at night? On pillows of sheep's milk cheese stuffed agnolotti, of course! Lilia is a charming Italian restaurant in Williamsburg. Sipping on limoncello outside in the Summer sun is the closet thing you'll get to Amalfi Coast bliss this side of the East River. The Mafaldini with pink peppercorns, parmigiano peggiano as well as the sheep's milk cheese filled agnolotti with saffron, dried tomato and honey were both divine dishes. Cauliflower reached a certain level of trendiness somewhere after the fall of the kale hype. Many restaurants serve up some variation of cauliflower but Lilia's rendition is heavenly. It's not even fair to call it cauliflower.  The this albino broccoli (I mean I said it's not fair to call it cauliflower) comes with spicy soppressata, sicilian pesto and majoram.

tastemaker

A lot of hype for a good Italian restaurant would be my review in one sentence. 


The food was good--don't get me wrong--but I don't think it's worth waiting a month for reservations. You can get excellent pastas at plenty of other restaurants and red-sauce joints in the city without planning 30 day ahead. 


There are a lot of perks though--it's a beautiful space and Williamsburg has few restaurants that are good for special occasions or a place to go with parents, so this fills a void. Plus, the cacio e pepe fritelle are savory, perfect little donuts and the olive oil cake is what dreams are made of. 


I love everything about Lilia... From the decor, the friendly staff, the fabulous way they serve their martinis and the food... The food makes it worth the uber from manhattan to williamsburg!


Best new restaurant to open in Williamsburg.  Everyone must try the baked clams - just the right amount of breading with a little red pepper kick - they are fantastic.  Don't show up without a reservation or you will be waiting at the bar for 2 hours.  Can't wait to go back to this place.