Emily Hyland weaves through the tiny, packed dining room in Clinton Hill, her hair back in a long braid, carrying the hot, exquisite pizza that is going to turn your day around. Her husband Matt Hyland made it and it's draped in salty cured ham and dried figs, with dots of melted blue cheese and a pile of arugula.
And then, because life is good, she comes back with another. A puff of soft dough, black and blistered at the edges, this one covered in pepperoni, thick slices of pickled chiles and a drizzle of honey over some mozzarella that was made this afternoon.
The pizzas ($11 to 19) at Emily are all fantastic, but then so is pretty much everything. Did you order the pasta? Make sure you order some pasta. Matt Hyland dresses trumpet-shaped frills in a sticky and absurdly delicious duck ragu, then grates over just the right amount of nutmeg ($16). He fries a few curry leaves to season the spaghetti with nduja and a poached egg ($17).
Emily is the kind of place where young families pass around a Caesar salad ($9) and couples wave to the friends they spotted a few tables away and no one really gets upset when the bathroom door opens an inch, even though it's locked, because everyone is just so happy to be there.
After dinner, after the monster of a marshmallow and chocolate-stuffed calzone ($10), you might experience some pangs of jealousy. After all, you have to go home to the East Village, to Carroll Gardens, to the Upper East Side, or wherever, but some of these people live here. They will become regulars at Emily--a brilliant new neighborhood restaurant in its sweet, early days.
Senior writer Tejal Rao dined unannounced at Emily. The restaurant only accepts reservations for parties of six or more, so get there early or be prepared for a wait--the dining room is small and fills up quickly, even on weeknights. Emily is serving wine and $10 cocktails, but keep an eye out for specials on the beer menu, which will sometimes include a delicious homebrew. Read Tasting Table's restaurant recommendation policy here.