Secret Non-Pizza Splendors at Roberta’s

Pizza-lovers from all over descend on Bushwick to eat at Roberta's, and they'll gladly wait for the pleasure. Every bit as queue-worthy, promises tupac17616, is Roberta's high-end option, a freewheeling and little-discussed tasting menu from Chef Carlo Mirarchi, who's in charge of anything there that isn't pizza or brunch.

Not only worth a special trip, at $120 per person (plus alcohol), this continually changing seasonal feast can be a voyage in itself. tupac's dinner (recounted in full on his blog) moved purposefully from sea to shore, starting with a school of bites from the ocean highlighted by fried shrimp heads with Meyer lemon granita and sea urchin with stracciatella, osetra caviar, and pistachio. A trio of pastas (loosely speaking: One was charred cuttlefish "noodles" in pork trotter ragu) brought a crescendo of flavors that segued into "a progression of protein the likes of which I could not have imagined," tupac muses. Lamb breast was cooked to shattering crispness on the outside, giving way to "a gloriously fatty interior that melted like custard." Côte de boeuf, aged over 50 days, "had all the mineral funkiness one can ever ask for in a steak."

The show-stopper was a roasted wild Normandy duck, which the chef himself brought to the table to general wonderment ("Heads turned. People freaked out"). The breast meat was carved and served first, followed by the legs with irresistible toffee sauce, and, finally, the carcass for whatever oddments could be gleaned by picking the thing up and gnawing on it. "Let’s just say my lifetime duck fat quota has now been met," tupac allows. Improbably, the overall impression left by this blowout spread was meaty yet not heavy: "there is a graceful balance at work ... a touch of acid here, or a dash of sweetness there, to temper the richness."

"Any one of these treats alone would’ve made an exceptional centerpiece to a great meal," tupac reflects. "Eaten in succession, there was something almost evil about what was happening—this was truly Lucullan feasting." Roberta's isn't going out of its way to promote its tasting menu, and our correspondent confesses that he "kind of wanted to keep all this to myself. The problem is, it’s way too good for me to keep quiet about."

Roberta's [Bushwick]
261 Moore Street (near Bogart Street), Brooklyn
718-417-1118

Discuss: Roberta's -- February 2011 (tasting menu!) report

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