Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria, Nolita - New York, NY

Nikki read this review in The New York Times on Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria in Nolita, the latest from Keith McNally of Odeon in TriBeCA, Cafe Luxembourg, uptown on the West Side, Lucky Strike on Grand Street and Nell's on 14th Street. Sunday, we again arrived early since this restaurant was covered recently in the paper and when that happens, everyone rushes to try out the new kid in town. At 10:30, the restaurant was almost full and very lively. We waited about five to ten minutes, but were enjoying the atmosphere. The Times noted the pizzas, which included breakfast version in addition to the lunch and dinner varieties. I cannot think of a restaurant in Norfolk that has a breakfast pizza, so I knew that is what I would choose, but it was hard as quite a few other breakfast dishes and pizzas sounded superb. Nikki noticed the raddicio, citrus and pancetta salad, so we began there. This is not a dinner salad, but more of an appetizer to share or combine with a small pizza. I do not eat pancetta, but it was easy to pick around and the salad was extremely refreshing. Radicchio, honey infused orange slices, sunchokes, pecorino and a light dressing, something of a vinegar base. This was an ultimate combination for a refreshing salad. I had not had sunchokes before and I have certainly been missing out on this delicious vegetable. Sunchokes look almost like a mushroom, but are chewy and chocked full of flavor. I am now on the hunt for this item and this is another dish Nikki plans to replicate, lucky for me.

For the entree course, I settled on the Spinaci breakfast pizza, topped with spinach, grana, mascarpone and egg. Nikki ordered the Salsiccia, which came topped with bacon, sausage, egg and white cheddar. The pizzas are on a thin crust and a small is very managable. If you are hungry, opt for a large. For a reference, the small and large are both larger than Fellini's small and large sizes and the breakfast pizzas are less in terms of cost. I also spotted the Frutta, another breakfast pizza topped with sugar, cinnamon, pears and pecorino. The waiter brough that after our entree pizzas and we each sample some and I packed the rest for the road. I like it a lot, but it is more of a dessert to share than a meal. To really make the most of the meal, I had to spy the dessert menu. A newer addition, the **hazelnut torte, caught my eye and I am glad it did. The 'torte' was the consistency of a very soft bread, generously topped with hazelnut pieces and paired with granita, cream and a light, carrot based sauce. The combination sounded so novel and the taste was astonishing. The torte part was not very sweet so that it did not overpowered the rest of the flavors. This was a light, moderately sweet dessert that would I believe most would enjoy.

Burgers are served only after midnight (supper) and if you do not crave a pizza, there are daily specials, such as duck, goat meatballs and lets not forget the roasted grapefruit with muscovado sugar & mint in the morning. Pasta, lamb, roasted mussels and a NY Strip all appear on the menu as do various types of proscuitto.

Pulino's is bustling with energy and table service is very good, but this is not the venue for a quiet meal. The noise level is excitingly loud and bounces off of the subway tile walls and rustic brick interior. You can enjoy the constant hum of conversation from others. The only complaint we had was that the bartender did not warn Nikki that you cannot purchase alcohol in NYC before noon. We do not remember this from our prior trips, but its possible, we did not eat before noon on those trips. Nikki ordered one of the three or four bloody Mary's offered and the description included vodka, but he never told her that before noon, they are all virgin. She paid the $11 sticker price, plus tip, at the bar and was about to order another round at the table, when the waiter asked her if she knew they were virgin until noon. We were both shocked, not at the alcohol law, which is also in effect in North Carolina (not surprising there, but in NYC, really?), but at the fact that the bartender did not inform her when she ordered the first drink. $11 for tomato juice and spices is a bit extreme. During the 'virgin hours', these drinks should be half of the price of the full on beverage, or even less. That is just taking advantage and we were thankful the waiter was nice enough to let us know before we had a $25 bill for more tomato juice. Shame on you, Pulino's Sunday brunch bartender but thank you **, our nice and helpful server.

Pulini's is very busy during Sunday brunch and word on the street is it is also busy during dinner, so call and see if they will take a reservation or be prepared to wait at the bar (watch out for the drinks on Sunday mornings!). The restaurant is open from 8:30am-2am and the menu breaks down by time, breakfast, brunch, mini lunch, lunch, late lunch, dinner and supper, so you can go any time and try some of the fare. Pulino's is located in Nolita at 282 Bowery @Houston , New York, New York 10012.


Pulino's is featured as one of New York City's top 10 Summer Hot spots. To view the slide show Click Here.
*Website is under contruction, but menu is available here
Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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