Psst. We have a connection and we got a table at Pulino’s; the searingly hot, controversial, new Keith McNally pizza joint on the Lower East Side of NYC. We didn’t know about the neighborhood angst, the breathless frenzy, the celeb chef Nate Appleman from San Francisco’s A16 who was arrested for carrying a pocket knife. (??? There has to be more to that story.)Who knew that at the same time Stella was debuting in Philly, Pulino’s was coming to life on the LES. Pizza is HOT!
Psst. We have a connection and we got a table at Pulino’s;
the searingly hot, controversial, new Keith McNally pizza joint on the Lower
East Side of NYC, that looks a whole lot like the other McNally joints. It’s as if
Balthazar has spawned a bunch of very good looking cousins, and you can tell
they all come from the same family: white subway tile, shabby chic, already
lived in look, fuzzy mirrors, soft lighting, back lit booze. Nothing wrong with
that, but you do kinda wish he would try his magic with a totally new style.
Just for fun.
But then again Pulino’s is fun. It’s dynamite people
watching. We sat next to Alan Rickman and his family. If you Google Pulino’s
the whole first page is all about Jude Law eating pizza (who is that man’s
publicist?? That person is GOOD.) It’s like the olden days at Balthazar when
there was always somebody famous at a nearby table and you needed the private
number to get a table. Having Pulino’s
private number is already a badge of Metro Coolness.
Since my head stuck has been stuck in packing boxes for the
past few weeks I didn’t know anything. We walked into Pulino’s wanting to see
our friend Pamella and eat good pizza. We were clean slates, as naïve as
someone can be. We didn’t know about the neighborhood angst, the breathless
frenzy, the celeb chef Nate Appleman from San Francisco's A16 who was arrested for carrying a
pocket knife. (??? There has to be more to that story.)Who knew that at the same time Stella was debuting in Philly, Pulino's was coming to life on the LES. Pizza is HOT.
Our first clue that this was high amp hot was the way the crowd
was spilling out onto the street. It was a party like back in the day before
Lehmann brothers took their spill and took the rest of us into the Great
Depression. Fortunately, the
incredibly suave Israel is manning the front door, so chaos is managed in the
most professional manner possible.
McNally prides himself on his staff, and this place is no
exception. Charming, attractive, knowledgeable, the only mis-step is the wait
staff’s pale blue T-shirts. No one looks good in a baby blue T-shirt after the
age of 8. What is up with that?
OK. Now about the food. It’s good, it’s solid, the
pizza has a super thin crust and the ovens are hot enough to properly blister
the crust. But. It’s crazy expensive for what it is. $14 for a delicious
roasted asparagus appetizer….7 stalks of asparagus. That’s crazy. The pizzas are 8-19 bucks, which is OK
for Manhattan, and they are big enough to share as long as you get some apps.
We sampled the acciughe pizza (anchovy, caper etc) and the Porchetta and both
were delicious, but if you are going to add basil to a pizza, do it after it
comes out of the oven.
There is a nice menu of meats, but I didn’t see any of it
come out of the kitchen. Clearly it’s all about the pizza. We shared two desserts: the
budino of faro which is like a very, very good faro rice pudding, and I can’t
remember the other because I was feeling a little noise-overwhelmed at this
point. McNally restaurants are really, really noisy. What? I said IT’S NOISY!
What did you say I couldn’t hear you?
I get it. Noise = buzz= excitement=buzz, but when that room
is packed you can't hear your dinner mate unless she is looking right at
you, and because we were three at the table, this left the other diner free to
people watch and wait their turn to try and converse.
All in all, it’s a fun to place go. The food isn’t
groundbreaking, but it is satisfying. I’m sure it will get better and better as
they get their legs underneath them and earn some of that patina.
And the prices?
Well, it’s like going uptown for fancy Chinese food. You know you can find
pizza or won tons just as good and cheaper, but you can’t beat the floorshow.
We could never explain this all to Pizza Guru, other than
the part about the pretty waitresses.
Pullino’s Bar –Pizzeria
New York, NY 10012
212-226-1966 (not the private number)