Ever since Lilia joined the New York dining scene, I'd been trying to find the perfect time to go indulge in a what I'd heard was a fantastic Italian meal. Chef Missy Robbins is bringing the best of Italy, think handmade pastas and wood-fired seafood, to Williamsburg, Brooklyn (in a converted auto shop, no less!). Reservations are almost impossible to attain, but my husband and I figured we'd test our luck right when they opened one rainy holiday weekend. No dice. The restaurant was already packed, but they have a lovely caffè with aperitivi and snacks to wait until your table is ready. We were seated pretty quickly, and soon began an Italian feast to remember. My husband got the opportunity to speak to Chef Robbins, as the vast, beautiful kitchen is open and on full display to diners. Her passion and creativity are truly evident in not only her words, but in each and every dish presented. Everything was so fresh and well balanced, not to mention cooked perfectly. As a starter, the cacio e pepe frittelle (think cacio e pepe pasta in a light & flaky beignet-type dough) were literally melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The handmade pastas, specifically the popular & uniquely shaped mafaldini, which is served simply with pink peppercorns and Parmigiano Reggiano, are some of the best I've ever had. Lilia has an amazing wood-fired oven, so it would behoove you to order a meat or fish dish cooked in this way. The grilled swordfish and veal flank steak were both cooked to perfection, with that slightly crisp, charred finish you can't get from other methods. As always, dessert was a must, and I loved the playful, yet sophisticated version of a build-your-own soft serve gelato bowl! We went with vanilla gelato, topped with lemony walnuts and amaretti cookies, however, I can imagine chocolate gelato with salted hazelnuts, chocolate stracci, and candied citrus would be to die for as well. Keep in mind that the caffè is open all day, so stop by for a cappuccino and pastry in the morning, or a sandwich and gelato in the afternoon! The fact that Lilia garnered three stars from Pete Wells, the New York Times food critic, is no surprise to me. I'm thrilled to add another highly impressive spot to my list of neighborhood regulars.