A Voce on Madison Avenue has just taken the plunge into difficult dining territory in New York: summer Sundays. As of two weeks ago, the critically acclaimed restaurant is now open on Sundays, during which it will offer a special prix-fixe “Festa d’Estate” Italian BBQ menu. Chef Missy Robbins, recently honored by Food and Wine magazine as one of the “Best New Chefs” of 2010, says that the inspiration behind the menu, which includes lamb ribs, baked ricotta-filled pasta, veal, pickled vegetables, grilled clams, and grappa-soaked fruit for dessert, came from a customer who requested a private dinner featuring her lamb ribs. “We had so much fun doing [the menu] that when we decided to open on Sundays again we used the ribs menu.”
Robbins took over at A Voce on Madison as executive chef in 2006, and splits her time between there and its second location at the Time Warner Center. Before that, she cooked at Arcadia and Lobster Club in New York, Spiaggo in Chicago (a favorite of the Obamas), and 1789 in Washington, D.C. Today, her cooking is often described as “ingredients-driven,” Italian-influenced cuisine. Through her travels, including a stint living and working in Italy, Robbins became increasingly interested in Italian food: “I was drawn to it—to its simplicity,” she says.
“A lot of people are doing very authentic Italian in New York,” she said. But when it comes to her own favorite restaurant in the city, “Right now it’s Blue Ribbon Sushi,” she says. But, “Next week, who knows?”
When dining at home, Robbins sticks to simple dishes, her most time-consuming and intricate are reserved for her restaurant patrons. “I wish I had the time or a big enough home to do more entertaining. I work six days a week,” she said.
So be sure to catch Robbins’ four-course, $45 Festa d’Estate special, running now through the end of August. Just bring a few friends—in keeping with true Italian hospitality, the helpings are heaping!