Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria - 282 Bowery, New York, NY 10012
6 Train to Bleecker Street or F Train to 2nd Avenue
Ever since I heard about Pulino's' imminent opening this winter, I was intrigued. Yet another offspring from restauranteur-mastermind Keith McNally (his resume includes other food successes such as Odeon, Cafe Luxembourg, Pravda, Balthazar, Pastis and others), Pulino's promised both a dramatic atmosphere and interesting gourmet pizzeria fare.
It all sounded attractive and after reading a number of reviews including fellow Astorian's, Bradley Hawks' from Amuse*Bouche, I just had to check it out. Lisa was gracious to take me for a birthday dinner last week and we were pretty impressed to say the least.
I loved the vibe at Pulino's from the minute we stepped in because it was fun, social and reminded me of an Italian piazza. Small tables for two as well as larger ones are interspersed throughout the open space, and it almost feels like you're sitting outside in a busy European cafe. For this reason, the noise level is pretty high, but it is also for this reason that you'd come here for a casual dinner with a group of friends instead of a romantic occassion. And if you'd like to dine solo, well that's OK too, as Pulino's has an extensive magazine rack where you can select the reading material of your fancy and enjoy a brick oven pizza and a glass of wine in perfect solitude.
Pizza is of course the main reason to come to Pulino's - they boast over 23 different varieties including savory, sweet and breakfast pizza too. But aside from a pie, we indulged in a decadent cheese starter and some good wine as well.
Vino Nero - Because I learned that wine was the way to go, Lisa and I gravitated to this section of the drinks menu. We were happy to see that Pulino's offered a carafe option for just $18 for a very decent light red wine. It tasted really smooth, especially at the finish and it withstood the decadence of the hearty, cheesy fare we indulged in.
Baked Ricotta - One quick look at the menu and we both zeroed in on this app. It sounded innovative but also comfortably familiar, consisting of fresh ricotta cheese, flavored by oregano, fennel and black pepper. The whole thing was bubbly and creamy, baked in a deep cast iron dish. A side of crunchy crostini was the much needed vehicle to transport the rich cheesy goodness into our impatient mouths. Each bite was pure heaven and even after we finished the crostini, we kept dipping our forks into this dairy lava of goodness.
Polpettini Pizza - Given that Lisa and I are meat lovers, we naturally wanted to try the meatball, tomato, mozzarella, pickled chilis and basil pizza. It was an interesting amalgamation of flavors that worked well together, satisfying our hunger and exciting our palates too. The meatballs were tender and had a bit of a kick, which we loved. The chilis on the contrary were pretty mild and gave the pizza a refreshing element.
In addition to the toppings, the dough was quite excellent - nice and thin with char on the bottom that just screamed brick oven deliciousness.
Service and Cost:
Our waitress was a young, cool, hipster who seemed to know her stuff. While she was really wonderful and attentive in the beginning, she sort of lost her touch towards the middle to end of our experience. We were surprised to wait about 20 minutes for our pizza after our app was cleard. Hmmmm....
Prices are moderate and include:
Antipasti, Salads, Salume & Bruschette - $8 - $15
Pizze - $9 -$18
Entrees - $11 - $29
Sides - $6 - $7
3 Cheesy Mmmms