Sunday in Brooklyn
348 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg

Isa may Have only been in existence for just shy of five years, but the Williamsburg restaurant still managed to cast a long shadow, serving as springboard for three of NYC’s most formidable culinary talents—Ignacio Mattos (of Manhattan’s Estela and Café Altro Paradiso) and his then sous chefs, Jose Ramirez-Ruiz and Pam Yung, the masterful duo behind the Michelin-starred Semilla.

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And though the brick boxed space it formerly inhabited appears largely unassuming (crouched on a peripheral corner of S.2nd St. and Wythe) it’s proved a potent magnet for attracting power players—recently wooing Adam Landsman and Todd Enany (former Chief Operating Officer and Director of Operations for the Major Food Group, respectively) and chef Jaime Young, from the haute, sensory-stimulating dining counter, Atera.

For their ambitious new project, Sunday in Brooklyn, they’ve retained the wood-fired oven from Isa’s waning days, when scallops with rice vinegar ice were abandoned for boilerplate crowd-pleasers like roasted chicken (Young splits the difference with off-menu patty melts and raclette-bound matsutake mushrooms, portioned from massive specimens dramatically posed in the entryway). The team primarily evokes Isa’s earlier, offbeat era, however—albeit with compositions that actually work—the steam-bellied milk buns are glorious, furnished with seductive swirls of oyster cream, and a sake-aged pork chop is animated by its innovative accompaniments: ground hazelnut dijon and half sour mustard greens. There’s also method behind the madness of ingredients like celtuce brine (part of a martini service) and the beer whey binding beef tartare. They’re shrewd yet scrumptious schemes to reduce food waste.

By toeing the line between envelope-pushing and accessible, Sunday in Brooklyn appears poised to avoid an Isa-style midlife crisis. It further hedges its bets with an increasingly in vogue “something for everyone” concept —  the upstairs dining room provides traditional sit-down service of scrupulously-plated dishes (like honeynut squash with cultured cheese and strips of black cod pastrami) while an easy breezy breakfast and lunch lineup (featuring egg sandwiches, grain salads and hand-held ham pastries) can be ordered in the marketplace and enjoyed at the bar. As for that marketplace, it’s where Young retails housemade oddities like wheatgrass aioli and toasted leek salt—just the thing for bulking out your oh-so-Brooklyn pantry.

Only time will tell if Sunday in Brooklyn ends up outliving Isa, but its trio of accomplished owners are surely here to stay.

Photo by Jane Bruce

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