Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria | 282 Bowery St. (just off Houston St.) | 917.289.9357 | on MenuPages

AS A NATIVE New Yorker, I afford myself a little cynicism. And with the amount of press and breathe that's been expended on behalf of the new venture between Keith McNally and Nate Appleman in the foodie universe, I approached the task of visiting this venture with much apprehension.

The name of the place is called Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria, and if you are not aware of the wattage in the aforementioned names (McNally has opened NYC staples Pravda, Balthazar, "best burger" joint, Minetta Tavern, among others; Appleman has earned his James Beard Award-winning pedigree in his San Francisco hotspot, A16), I can best liken that ideology's appeal to a movie fan hearing that Indie darling Ryan Gosling was assigned to star in a Martin Scorcese film.

And just like that announcement's hope to fill seats—at least on opening weekend, the hope has been that this may be the new New York City go-to, or must-go-to, establishment. The equivalent of Movie of the Year, at least on paper.

And so this "pizzeria and bar" (does New York City need yet another one?!) opened up for breakfast (?!) and lunch last Monday, and finally for dinner Monday morrow. Having followed the numerous food related website posts—and posts about other websites' posts, and the consequential meta posts tsunamis—I finally divined that I could go downtown and check it out this morning, for brunch, less than an hour after the had opened.

This assured that I miss than oft-writ about maddening crowds of avid foodies and bloggers with cameras (of which I would be one, of course!), affording the management, kitchen, floor staff their full week to work out their kinks, offering me a better opportunity to enjoy the dining experience they intended me to.

Lucky enough, it was still warm enough for them to open their walled bay windows to let in some welcomed spring air sunshine.

Being a "party of one" (most of my friends are not up at 10 a.m.), i was sat at a small 2-top, thankfully by the open doors,as I enjoyed how the sunlight added a more inviting feel to the already warm and homey interior. The high ceilings, accented by bottles of alcohol stacked on shelves likes books in a library, helped open the room, making me forget that I was within an arm's reach of the tables within my periphery.

Customers at orbiting tables seemed to be happily in their own world as well.

I already knew I would be order one of the individual, egg-based pizzas (Pizze & Uova). I had forgotten however that they also serve many other attractive-looking non-pizza items, so I ventured, first, to try the Ham & Cheddar option of their scone (the others being Bitter Chocolate and Orange & Cranberry).

Nice! Aromatic, slightly warmed, more biscuity than cakey n texture (as it should be), with nice bites on smokey ham and finishing with the eventually noticeable taste of cheddar.

Breadstuffs fill me quickly, so I only finished about two-thirds of the sconce to save room for my individual Salsiccia pizza, topped with with bacon, sausage and white cheddar, subconsciously insisted on maintaining an egg, ham & cheese theme throughout my meal.

One of my extremely attentive servers asked if I would care for chili oil to accompany my pizza. I thought what a rare if not completely novel option, and answered, yes. (The staff was so friendly and attentive that I started to worry that my eating alone and taking random photos of the space and the food was making them react as if I was a much more important and influential foodie or food critic or blogger than I presently am...!)

My pizza came out quick, hot, and smelling wonderful; after a heavy drizzle of their chili oil, I dove right in.

I took my time with the first bite, wanting to make sure I was able to appreciate everything this collection of flavors and textures had to order. The crust was thin, crispy, airy in the edge's small bubbles, with slight hints of charcoal-y goodness. folding well and chewing well, without being to dry and crumbly or rubbery. The sausage was more sweet than spicy—preferable for breakfasts I gather—but had plenty of both and was countered nicely by the cracklin', salty, thicker-sliced bacon, likewise crisped on its edges. The white cheddar added a little extra body and sharpness on top of the smooth, stringy fresh mozzarella. The chili oil added just the right amount of heat and kick to start the morning off right for someone who doesn't drink coffee. And there was just enough crust left over to sop up all of the unavoidable runoff of that warm, oozy, velvety egg yolk!

After that first bite, the rest went down very quickly and happily. Since I've vowed to not even get remotely into "Bests" lists—I've found them frivolous and self-congratulatory for those whose names wind up in those lists and consequential bold print—I can comfortably say the quality in taste and execution of my particular pie, this particular day, gives me good cause to impel my friends to try this place out, offering to be their guests or invite them to be guests, or comminglers, of mine. The place has an overall great vibe, nice energy (I'm curious as to the peak hour atmosphere), and the other dishes, pizza or not, did look quite appetizing.

My New York City cynicism usually prepares me for my fellow NYers' cynicism about a place that gets this much attention in the foodie universe. The "backlash", as it's presently called, and further still "backlash to the backlash". But eventually you have to give McNally some credit. I've liked—if not raved about—the food at Pravda and Balthazar, and frequented those for many years regardless. Pulino's will have its heralders—and, I'm sure, some detractors—but longer after fanfare, discussions and debates have subsided and been forwarded to the new "next big thing", people will be squeezing in rezys and inviting their friends to grab a bite and a beer here with them.

I've already invited mine...!

Bun Apple Tea!


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Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria | 282 Bowery St. (just off Houston St.) | 917.289.9357 | on MenuPages