ISA IN BROOKLYN

by Miryam Muller in ,


Williamsburg, Brooklyn is quickly changing shape these days, especially when it comes to the influx of delicious restaurants.

Recently opened on Wythe Avenue in Brooklyn is ISA, a cozy, rustic eatery with a simple wood sign. Designer and restaurateur Taavo Somer together with chef Ignacio Mattos have pieced together a new and unique atmosphere which they describes as "primitive modernism."

Somer began the design process about two years ago when he dreamed of crafting the space, a former home, with his own hands. Inspired by his family’s Estonian background and DIY mentality, he soon realized he could call upon his many talented friends to help move the process along. He began contacting friend woodworkers, ceramicists, and builders to contribute their skills and slowly, the space began to evolve.

The interior at Isa — exposed tree branches, piles of firewood — hint of the menu to come. All the tapas-size dishes and entrees at the woodsy eatery are simple: raw scallops with apple and celery; sardines roasted with olives; beef tartare with smoked oil and juniper berries.

The vision from Taavo Somer and Ignacio Mattos: ‘‘It’s nothing that a home cook couldn’t do, you can do it with two hands, a knife and a little bit of fire."

Isa’s chef, Ignacio Mattos, left, with sous chefs in the kitchen.

Jose Ramirez, a sous chef, with loaves of bread.

Daikon radishes and carrots.

The Brain Hammock, a cocktail of bourbon, vinegar, ginger and bee pollen.

Taavo Somer, the owner of Isa, making collage menus.

Isa’s chef, Ignacio Mattos, left, with sous chefs in the kitchen.

Roasted calamari, served with ink.

A stained-glass window in the dining room.

Drawings by The Selby, inspired by Isa.

The dining room.

Pamela Yung, a pastry chef, makes grapefruit curd to go with sherbet.

Steak tartare, served with brown flax.

The Selby’s illustration of a caveman.

 

Taavo Somer, left, and his father, Toivo.