CLOSED: Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria
282 Bowery at E. Houston Street, NoLita, (212) 226-1966
Getting There: V, F to Lower East Side- 2nd Avenue; B,D,F,V to Broadway- Lafayette
Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria
(This restaurant has since CLOSED)
One of the more recent additions to a reinvigorated Bowery is Pulino’s, a bar and thin crust pizza restaurant that is noteworthy because of owner Keith McNally (Minetta Tavern, Balthazar, Pastis), imported San Francisco chef Nate Appleman, and it’s ostentatious neon sign that glares upon the famed, once dingy street. The idea of a tasteful pizzeria that does not serve slices is not necessarily novel, but this specific restaurant and the dining clientele make the experience a special one, in that it’s more than “just a slice of pizza.”
If the giant neon sign is the eatery’s drawing card, the interior is just as attention-grabbing. From the black and white alternating checkered tiles that scream old-fashioned, to the just as traditional tube lighting hanging from the ceiling, it is evident that McNally’s décor is designed to make old feel new again and to imaginatively combine the time-honored with the chic. The restaurant is outfitted with wall to wall liquor bottles, with exposed brick filling in where the shelves leave off. The tables are appropriately spaced throughout and leave plenty of room to move around, or walk to the small bar area inside.
Restaurant Review: Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria
The affordable wine list (mostly $25-$54) features a majority of authentic Italian wines, with some California favorites spliced in. The list of antipasti has traditional favorites like mozzarella burrata ($13) with olives and roasted mussels ($12), but also features a delicious ciccioli frolli ($8), a crispy pork belly, and a smoked sablefish with capers and dill ($15). Instead we opted for the prosciutto & salami portion of the meny and started with a delicious parma ($15) with parmigiano reggiano and doused in balsamic vinegar. The massive dish is served on a large wooden serving tray and was perfect to split between a group of two or four, depending on your level of hunger.
Next, we selected two dishes from the Al Forno menu and tried the semolina gnocchi ($18) coupled with some chicken and a chunky tomato sauce, and the Pulino’s meatballs ($24) a server-recommended dish served in a crock pan with some roasted corn, green beans, and tomatoes. The tender balls were delightfully charred and delicious. Although the rest of the Al Forno portion of the menu had some killer sounding dishes (roasted scallops $29, and shrimp spiedini $27 to name a few), the LocalBozo crew was there for pizza.
The pizza menu is both extensive and customizable, with 12 different varieties and a decent selection of topping alternatives. Our favorite was the margherita ($14) your basic plain tomato, mozzarella, basil pie, which we topped with anchovies ($3) for a creamy, salty flavor and which paired extraordinarily with the sweeter tomato sauce. For meatlovers, we also liked the polpettine ($19) chunks of beefy meatballs with pickled chiles and fresh basil leaves. We finished off with the funghi ($19), a bulk of mushrooms and pancetta with tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil. The pizzas were as savory as any of the thin crust personal pies offered anywhere in Manhattan.
After a full meal, we were stuffed to the brim, and were able to taste so many different flavors at Pulino’s without having to break the bank: some delicious red Italian wine, an appetizer plate, two different entrée samples, and three different types of pizza, each of which were mouth-watering in their own ways. Pulino’s is a recently opened restaurant in a constantly developing neighborhood and is a perfectly appropriate restaurant for groups of any party size. But alas, you aren’t the only ones filled in on this new hot spot, and reservations are definitely a must.