Restaurant Review: Missy Robbins’s Lowest Key Pasta Paradiso

Despite the dozen or so shapes of pasta available in the to-go case, Misipasta offers only two pastas on the dine-in menu, but two is enough. The spaghetti, subtle and nourishing, is cooked just to the stern side of al dente, then tossed with garlicky butter emulsified with the starchy pasta cooking water, and sprinkled with shaved bottarga and crisp bread crumbs. Luscious cappelletti—filled, folded pasta that look sort of like overlarge tortellini—are filled with a heady mixture of parmesan, ricotta, mascarpone and prosciutto, dressed simply in butter and sage, and arranged tidily in a small, straight-sided terra-cotta bowl. It’s the sort of pasta dish you’re always craving without even realizing it, the sort of pasta you want to just shovel into your mouth—but their size and heft force you to slow down, to think not bowl by bowl but bite by bite. There’s often a third pasta available only for to-go orders, a scoop of tiny pastina (star-shaped micro-pasta) in a container of brodo, golden and intense, and so rich with collagen that it leaves your lips sticky. This is the sort of potent, soul-nourishing, complexly layered noodles-in-broth situation that Campbell’s chicken-and-stars soup always hopes to see when it looks in the mirror, before resigning itself to the disappointments of reality.

One of the city’s great secret sandwiches: a mess of grilled artichoke hearts held together with tangy marinara and oozing provolone cheese.

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I worry, a little bit, that the secret of Misipasta will get out, and that the friendly, neighborhoody feel of the place will tighten up like a corset, and that it’ll become yet another impossible-to-enter room behind the digital gates of the Resy app. But the shop and restaurant are open nearly all day—at 11 A.M. or 3 P.M. you can breeze through and have the place basically to yourself—and, when the weather gets just a smidge warmer, the big and beautifully appointed back yard will reopen, nearly doubling the seating capacity. Have an espresso, fruity and bitter. Have a slice of crispy farinata, a lacy-edge chickpea-flour pancake aromatic with rosemary. Have one of the city’s great secret sandwiches, an enormous mess of marinated and grilled artichoke hearts, spiked with hot chilis and barely held together by oozing provolone cheese. Buy a pint of Robbins’s satiny hazelnut gelato. Get a pound of pasta—frilly lumache, or long tubes of paccheri—and a jar of thirty-clove sauce, heady with garlic. You won’t make pasta nearly as good as Robbins’s at home—even with the same ingredients, even with the same tools, some things just have to get all the way into your bones—but it doesn’t hurt to try. ♦

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