Roberta’s. Shrimp Roll.

Roberta’s is the coolest restaurant in New York City.  So cool, it needs it own ON THE REAL category to prove this bold, but accurate proclamation. On Moore Street just off the corner of Bogart in East Williamsburg sits her incredibly unassuming entrance to a former garage.  The interior is adorned with a mishmash of found wood panelling, benches, tables and wall hanging chattel rounded out with a healthy dose of non-pretentious tattooed personality. The pizza they create in that big old oven in the front kitchen and the plates they churn out of the back is simply perfect.

I had the shrimp roll on a recent visit. Simple is the word of the day here, but simple can be perfect and my meal was. The shrimp was exquisitely cooked and lightly tossed in mayo with a little bit of chopped tarragon. The bite coupled with the perfectly cooked-that-morning-out-back-in-a-wood-fired-oven and buttered roll kinda made me want to cry. The addition of the freshly picked, roasted and salted fingerling potatoes on the side make the meal flawless. I washed it all down with a Dean’s Dream which is an up concoction of blanca tequila, lime, mole bitters and cracked black pepper.  Amazing.

Lulu was desperately trying to get a peek at the Tiki Disco happening behind the plywood walls in Robert’s garden; a former junk yard. And that is part of what sets Roberta’s so far apart from the rest.  The owners have willingly jumped into so many fires over the last couple of years. They run the Heritage Radio Network. They grow as much of the food they serve on premises and get whatever else they can from Brooklyn Grange..the massive rooftop farm in Long Island City. They throw everything from raging feasts with bonfires, to a garden dinner series, to neighborhood block parties, to beach parties at their place Ripper’s at Rockaway Beach. And, if you want to go seriously upscale, they have the $180 a head tasting menu at Blanca right next door.  ON THE REAL is going to go in-depth on all things Robert’s over the coming months.  Hope the shrimp roll and a shot of a longing three-year-old is enough to start.

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