Giant red sign - you can't miss it.
After you live somewhere for a while, you naturally start integrating yourself into the community. You develop habits and preferences, like buying groceries from the same corner deli, going to a trusted dry cleaners and of course, eating at your favorite neighborhood restaurant. Living in the Lower East Side for just under 2 years now, I certainly have my preferences. Pulino’s is the place that I always rely on for a great brunch and a relaxing afternoon.
The more casual sister of the popular Soho French bistro, Balthazar, Pulino’s focuses on simple Italian fare. The restaurant serves artisanal pizzas and pastas during dinnertime and offers an eclectic brunch menu on the weekends.
I love cracking the sugar with my spoon.
The goods. Look at that fancy grapefruit spoon!Despite temptations like blueberry skillet-pancakes with lemon ricotta or smoked trout salad, I never stray from my 2 favorite menu items. First, the roasted grapefruit is a tasty bite that I love having before my savory main dish. Topped with a burnt muscovado sugar shell and fresh mint, the grapefruit is only cooked long enough for the pulp to loosen and release more juice. Molasses notes from the sugar are especially strong and pair well with the bitterness from the citrus. I wish this dish was served in a bowl instead of a plate – so I can gather up and enjoy every last drop of delicious juice!
If you like lighter coffee, Pulino's ice coffee is nutty yet refreshing.
Cheese + Spinach + Egg = YUM.My other go-to staple at Pulino’s is the spinach brunch pizza. Swathed with a blend of mild and sharp Italian cheeses (Grana, Mozzarella, Mascarpone) and perfectly sautéed spinach, the pizza is taken to another level via a runny egg baked into the pie. The thin, crispy crust creates the perfect dough-to-topping ratio, providing just enough un-sauced crust for me to dip in creamy egg yolk. Plus if you like your pie spicy but don’t want hard red pepper flakes stuck in your teeth, Pulino’s also offers a luscious red pepper-infused olive oil on the side.
Perfectly cooked egg.A. prefers more traditional egg dishes for brunch (i.e. not pizza) and ordered the pork belly potato hash special with two sunnyside up eggs.
Mix it all up for maximum enjoyment.Hashes can be difficult to execute. Cooked not long enough, a hash simply ends up looking like a stir fry of mismoshed ingredients ( and hard potatoes). Cook it too long and it turns into shapeless goo. Pulino’s hash was well-prepared but had a noticeable imperfection. Left skin-on, some pieces of pork belly had a curiously unpleasant mouth feel that A. could only describe as “incredibly sticky.” If I had to guess, the meat probably first underwent searing to produce a crispy skin but was softened again when cooked as a component of the hash. Despite this, A. and I actually enjoyed the flavors of the hash very much. Not only did the collagen from the pork belly produce a delightfully caramelized outer crust, the potatoes and sweet peppers were also tender and well-seasoned.
Diners at the bar. I can't even imagine how many bottles there are.Aside from the good food, the service and jazzy ambiance are also reasons why I go to Pulino’s so often. Although the dining room is always filled with people, I’ve never waited to be seated (a miracle in NYC on a Sunday). Additionally, the restaurant’s 12 foot ceilings, large windows and wall-to-wall displays of whiskey bottles attract a wonderful amount natural sunlight. The airy yet rustic atmosphere is ideal for meeting up with old friends.
So much lovely sunlight.Pulino's
New York, NY
Got any recommendations for places to try? Let me know in the comment section!