Greenpoint Gazette

Missy Robbins’ Return to the Kitchen Will Happen at Williamsburg’s Lilia


A quiet stretch along Union Avenue will soon be the home of renowned chef Missy Robbins’ first restaurant, Lilia, scheduled to open this fall.

Lilia will focus on seafood, but will have several vegetable, pasta, and meat options as well. The cuisine of course will be Italian, at which Robbins has excelled for several years.

She has an extensive resume including executive chefs stints at Spiaggia in Chicago, which was a favorite of the Obamas; and at A Voce Madison and A Voce Columbus in Manhattan, both of which earned Michelin Stars during her tenure.

She left both in positions in 2013, and took a brief hiatus from chef duties, to consult on menus.

But she’s back and partnering up with Matt Kliegman of Smile Café and Black Seed Bagel fame to open their own Italian restaurant in Williamsburg.

“There are a lot of great culinary options in Williamsburg and beautiful real estate,” said Kliegman. “But the particular part of Williamsburg where we’re opening could use a really great neighborhood restaurant. Apart from Jimmy’s Diner there aren’t very many options – just a lot of residences and newish constructions.”

Robbins was particularly influenced by her time in Northern Italy and she continues to incorporate the elements and techniques she learned there into her food today. At Lilia she will continue to blend the traditional with the modern.

“I take my inspiration from all of Italy,” she said. “I’ve been cooking Italian food for a long time and I’m really inspired by the simplicity of it. It’s like cooking your grandmother’s recipes and reinterpreting them.”

Lilia is also allowing Robbins to build something from the ground up. While she’s grateful for her time at A Voce it wasn’t her design and concept, but here she gets to execute her own vision, and be part of a different community.

The space in Williamsburg is a former auto body shop. When open it will seat about 75 people. In addition to the restaurant there will also be a take away section for coffee, pastries, gelato and sandwiches.

“We have tried to preserve the original structure as much as possible and present it in a clean and comfortable way and really let Missy’s food take center stage,” said Kliegman.

Lilia, 567 Union Avenue, at the intersection of North 10th Street.

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