Night Owl: Gambling On the Mise Pizza at Ribelle
Taking a gamble on the mercy of the kitchen turns out to be a mostly mixed bag.
Sometimes you walk into a restaurant and it instantly feels like you’re at home. Other times, it just feels like you’ve shown up late to a party, and that’s how you know you’ve walked into Ribelle. Small groups huddle up with one another all the while bartenders and servers seem to know just about everyone but play hard to get with the few outsiders. The music is just loud enough to cover up neighboring conversations, featuring a mishmash of all things hip hop and 90’s alternative—nostalgic for some, ironic for others.
That’s sort of the tone at Ribelle. It’s hard to pinpoint if everything is served with intent or completely off the cuff. Such is the case with the late-night pizza, simply called “tonight’s mise,” an after-hours menu option that puts you at the mercy of the kitchen (one night might be pizza with pork rinds; another, topped with cured egg yolk). On a recent visit, the mise pizza came with sardines, ricotta, mashed potato, and paper-thin lardo, which melted effortlessly into the dough. Not so with the sardines, which bring the term “fishy” to a whole new level. They are plump and juicy but the dominant, aggressive flavors are impossible to avoid, saturating the dough with every bite. The dough is soft with a good chew, and bits of char give it the look that all pizza needs and deserves. It’s mostly a mixed bag but the level of creativity and whimsy is through the roof, and it’s impossible to complain about the results since that’s the fun and beauty of it all.
Everything feels very cheffy at Ribelle, from the clique-type vibe to the pizza served on a baking sheet. This is one restaurant that really takes the term “chef’s whim” to a whole new level, but it feels like the right kind of gamble.
Ribelle, 1665 Beacon St., Brookline.