There's a common misconception that cooking is, and has to be, hard. That if you don't have samurai-level knife skills and half the gadgets in the Williams-Sonoma catalog, you're doomed to culinary failure. That if a meal is amazing, it must take half your day to double-boil and strain and emulsify and tweezer-garnish into an exact replica of something you saw in a $55 cookbook.
Wrong. So wrong. Didn't your grandma teach you anything? Cooking requires care, but not frills.
That's what makes the food at Brooklyn's Lilia so well-loved by both critics and locals; it's elegant, it's understated, but it's also pretty damn accessible. (Once you can score a reservation or a highly coveted seat at the bar, that is.) Chef Missy Robbins's Italian fare tastes like a million bucks, but is created with a focus on ingredients being perfectly cooked, thoughtfully combined, and super fresh.
If you can make a box of dollar-store macaroni and cheese, you can make this garlicky seafood pasta dish. Garlic, fresh herbs, clams, and a sprinkle of salt and chili flakes is all it takes to make fresh spaghetti into a mouthful of wonder. Finish it with a generous squeeze of lemon.
And don't worry—we won't tell your dinner guests that this plate of fancy stuff was made in 15 minutes.