Lilia is located in an old car garage It still has the white tile and spacious high ceilings. The kitchen is completely open. There is an Argentinian style wood grill on the side too. it’s, uh… you know how I feel about wood grills.
Anyways, This is a cool space, It feels very open and comfortable. The service is friendly and relaxed. The wine list is a great selection of wines from Italy. And the food is some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had.
There were so many highlights to our meal at Lilia. It started out with little fried fritelle balls. These little puffs of heaven tasted like cacio e pepe. cacio e pepe is a classic Italian pasta dish which is pretty much a ton of black pepper and pecorino romano. These tasted just like the classic dish. The balls even had this fluffy resemblance to pasta. they were the best way to start a meal.
They had Blowfish Tails. I have no idea how they cooked them, They were very close in size and texture to frog legs, and they are something I will always order from now on. I like those just like I like Chicken Wings. They were out of this world.
(Photo Cred goes to The Incredibly Talented Shannon Marie. She took all of the good photos.)
After that, it was an onslaught of delicious plate after delicious plate. There were so many cool items on the menu. An amazing whole artichoke stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs, insanely delicious wood fire grilled clams with Calabrian Chili and breadcrumbs. Then the pasta, all of the pasta had a wonderful uniqueness to them. I think it says a lot when the perfect gnocchi with broccolini pesto and pistachios is your least favorite, still spectacular, but everything else was a little more unique and a little more poppy.
The rest of the pasta was amazing and simple. A lot of people don’t know that pasta is one of the hardest things you can make. If the pasta dough is off, it will either crumble while you boil it, or it will be too chewy and unpleasant to eat. After you have the pasta perfect, then you have to make the sauce, to order, in the pan. Then you have to make sure to add just the right amount of water to the pasta so that the sauce doesn’t break, or it gets too soupy and then nothing tastes right because it’s all watered down. A good bowl of pasta is a miracle of practice and knowledge.
The clam and green garlic linguine, which is a classic, was perfectly prepared. The Mafaldini (My personal favorite) Was the simplest pasta they had, but the pasta itself was incredibly fun and then the pink peppercorns give you a very familiar flavor, but with a great twist. You get the idea.
when our last course showed up, we were already on the border of being incapacitated. But then the swordfish showed up. An impeccable steak of swordfish covered with sweet, hot and funky Hungarian chilies, with a mint sauce. The peppers gave us back our appetite, they just fit so perfectly with the sea bass. it was this lovely, incredibly simple dish.
Finally, They sent us out a Grilled Lamb Steak. This steak was intense. It was seasoned to the point of being almost too acidic, but the acid was exactly what made it so perfect. Perfectly cooked, covered in Roman spices, which is an intense amount of herbs and seasonings, and then a lovely salad of celery and fennel adorned the top of it. I didn’t want to give it up. It was the best steak I’ve ever had.
Lilia is Chef Missy Robbins’ restaurant. I did not get the pleasure to meet her, But I did meet her Chef De Cucina (hah, Italians), Eric Simpson. Eric took the time to talk with us for a couple of minutes. He has worked at some of the best Italian restaurants in New York and he is incredibly modest. It is obvious how much he loves Italian food and what he does every day. He was just excited about the food as we were, which is crazy considering he’s around it, literally every day.
Lilia, for me, is an absolute must in Brooklyn. Everything they do feels easy and expressive. The food is fantastic and they are incredibly down to earth people. It’s a great place to enjoy solid Italian food, with a modern twist.