Lunch at Roberta’s

The first time that I went to Roberta’s in Bushwick it was in the middle of winter and they seated us next to a swinging door which produced an arctic blast anytime a server or a customer swung it open. We sat in our winter coats, shivering, and huddling around a heater in between courses. It was a memorable, if not quite ideal, dining experience.

Things were warmer and better at Roberta’s last week, when I ate lunch there before appearing on Michael Harlan Turkell’s Heritage Radio Network show, “The Food Seen” (which is recorded on the Roberta’s complex).

My table was outside pressed up against the glass of the radio station (so I could watch Dave Arnold, one of the chefs in my book, recording his show). On this fall day, it was really lovely out there.

I started my meal with a carrot salad. That doesn’t sound very exciting, but look at this plate:


Those carrots are cooked (get this) in browned goat’s milk butter and served on smoked ricotta. I’m not sure how necessary the “goat” part is to that equation, but I can’t wait to cook carrots at home in browned butter…they’re just so flavorful. And paired up with the smokiness of the ricotta, it may be the best carrot salad I’ve ever had (even trumping the one at ABC Kitchen).

For my entree, I had the special of the day, which was seared house-smoked sturgeon with grapes and yogurt:


It’s an oily fish, that sturgeon, but somehow the acidity of the grapes cut against that and along with the yogurt it made for a sultry, tangy dish. Though Roberta’s is famous for its pizza, the fact that they can produce a dish like this tells you that it’s a restaurant that aspires to a lot more. That plate wouldn’t be out of place on a table at Jean-Georges.

It says a lot about this dessert cookie that I don’t remember anything about it (except that I only ate a few bites):


But I do remember pairing it with Blue Bottle Iced Coffee, which they serve there just like they do at any actual Blue Bottle location with its fine balance of bitter chicory and sweet sugar syrup.


All-in-all, I really enjoyed my lunch at Roberta’s. At night, I’m sure it’s a madhouse, but by day, it’s a pleasant place to be. I hope to go back before they crank up the heater and a seat near the door means possible exposure to frostbite.

Let's dish!

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