September 8, 2009 / 10:15 AM / 10 years ago

Chef Robbins aims to repeat success with NYC eatery

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Missy Robbins is gearing up a rare venture in these tough economic times.

Chef Missy Robbins is seen in this undated photo. Undated handout/Reuters/Courtesy of A Voce restaurant

The 38-year-old, known for her mastery of contemporary Italian cuisine, is planning the launch of an outpost of A Voce, where she has been executive chef.

The second restaurant will open later this month in Midtown Manhattan after the original A Voce debuted in 2006.

Robbins spoke to Reuters about her love of Italian flavors and simple cooking.

Q: Will the second A Voce be different from the original?

A: “We are keeping them conceptually the same, and in terms of menu structure it’s the same. We are doing different dishes at the two separate places. We have an antipasti section. We have a pasta section. We have a secondi section. The goal is that people who come know they are eating my food and know they are eating at A Voce.”

Q: Describe your culinary point of view.

A: “I would say definitely contemporary Italian. I want to pay respect to the regional influences of Italy and seasonally influences of New York, and combine those together.”

Q: Where did your love of Italian food come from?

A: “I’m not Italian. I grew in New Haven which is very American-Italian. I grew up eating a lot of red-sauced food. I guess it started with that. But I traveled a lot to Italy. I have always gravitated to those flavors and ingredients.”

Q: Do you have a signature dish?

A: “I think my point view is definitely keeping things simple and true to the ingredients. For example, Funghi al forno (a roasted mushroom dish) that we do at both restaurants is really a great example of what I really want to do. It’s about the quality of the mushrooms we are using. It’s really simple, and it’s all about proper cooking techniques.”

Q: What is the best dish you’ve eaten that’s not made by you?

A: “My favorite dish in New York City is the ricotta gnocchi at Lupa (an Italian restaurant co-owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali). It’s really about the sauce. It is made with tomatoes and sausage. It’s fantastic.”

RECIPE (2 servings)

Stracciatella with Marinated Cherry tomatoes

8 oz stracciatella cheese (can also substitute Mozzarella di bufula or Burrata)

2 pints mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

2 large sprigs of oregano

1 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons

1/4 pound arugula

Sea salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Combine ingredients. Eat on its own or serve with toasted focaccia.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney

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