It’s been a while since I’d written about Max, one of my past absolute favorite restaurants from the Lower East Side. I loved it because it was so simple. I always say, the thing about Italian restaurants is that they can’t, and shouldn’t try to, justify being overly fancy or stuffy, expensive or complicated. A good Italian meal is one the peasants have enjoyed for hundreds of years. It’s one that is simple, that uses high quality ingredients, and that offers something beyond sustenance, and that is comfort that simply can’t be rivaled by most other cuisines.
When I finally walked past Max’s new Williamsburg location on South 2nd & Driggs, filling an old corner space with lots of windows and that rustic-industrial feel that Williamsburg knows so well, I was thrilled. I stopped in for lunch yesterday, and it was just so peaceful. The music was great, with the likes of old Conor Oberst, Etta James, and even some slow-grooving Rolling Stones. The food (and the prices), were exactly how I remembered them at old Max in LES.
First of all, their liquor prices are incredible. They’ve got the good stuff, but they also have $6 glasses of wine, and $3 cans of beer (it’s Genessee). The perfect place to come for a beer and an amazing Italian sandwich without breaking the bank, or you can come do the same for an affordable pasta dish and bottle of wine on a particularly beautiful night. I’m sure it won’t be long until this place is totally packed. I don’t see how it can’t be. As for the food? Well, the meatballs are what I could only describe as decadent, truly ‘melt in your mouth’ good. After the meatballs, I was stuffed, but I’d also ordered the spinach ravioli with butter and sage. It was very sage-y, which I liked, and totally swimming in butter (which, let’s be real, I didn’t mind!). Overall, the food was a little salt-heavy, but still very delicious. I was happy to see their squid ink pasta with spicy shrimp from their last menu back again. That’s a truly amazing dish, and I would have ordered it if it weren’t for the sake of reviewing new food.
So, while PT will always have my heart, is there enough love in my neighborhood and in my belly for two homestyle Italian restaurants? You bet there is.
Where: South 2nd & Driggs | How Much: Honestly, you can keep it cheap for $10-15, or have a full-on feast for about $35-40 after tip. Cards okay.
- Available Now: The Brooklyn Munch Cookbook
- All Things Italian on Brooklyn Munch
- Recipe, Ravioli with Sage and Roasted Squash