We've had our eye on Chef Chris Cipollone for a minute. We were big fans of his under the radar cooking at Tenpenny, which for the last couple years, has served as The Infatuation's somewhat secretive Midtown culinary escape. Now that he's gone, opening a new downtown restaurant, Piora, Tenpenny has definitely slipped a bit.
Needless to say, we were very much looking forward to dining at Piora. We always knew Cipollone had game, and now it was time to see what he was truly made of. See you later culinary wasteland of central Midtown, welcome to where the real game is played - the West Village. Piora is located in one of our favorite Manhattan dining rooms, taking over for the beautiful space that was once home to The Goodwin on Hudson Street. It's a cozy little room tucked in the back, out of sight from the street.
The food at Piora is as good as we had hoped. Cipollone should very soon be in the discussion when it comes to this city's finest. His cooking is subtly unique, layering textures and finishing almost every dish with some sort of breadcrumby dusting of goodness. His American style has strong Italian influences and a little bit of Korean spice, which all comes together quite beautifully on the plate. We've found vegetables and meat are the route to go here, and if you follow the food rundown below, you're destined for a great meal.
It may not come off that way at first, but you're getting into a serious meal at Piora. The service is understated yet attentive, and the price point does considerable wallet damage. Looking for a can't fail spot for Date Night? Get Piora up high on The Hit List.
Our only complaint here is that the Monkey Bread doesn't simply come to your table automatically. This crazy delicious bread is about as good of a first impression a restaurant can make, and worth all $6. Still, it's bread. That sh*t should be "free!"
Carrots are still hot. It wouldn't surprise us if an Eater Heat Map: Where To Eat CARROTS Now popped up tomorrow, with the number one hottest carrot in town being right here at Piora. We've had some good ones at The NoMad and Empellon Cocina in recent memory, but these, cooked up nice with pistachio and served with ham and yogurt, take home the gold. Definitely make sure these are on the table. Also, order the Market Vegetables too. That's another healthy winner.
A pretty looking scallop dish, sweetened up with corn, and served with chanterelles and crispy chicken skin for crunch. As discussed above, there was some kind of awesome breadcrumb crumble action on top of this too, we'll assume it's some bonus monkey bread shavings.
We know, we spelled barbecued wrong. But that's the way it is on the menu. This take on octopus is one that belongs in your mouth. 'Cued up, smokey octopus is chopped up into small nuggets and combined with fermented pepper, basil and pine nuts. Loved it.
Pasta was always something Chef Cipollone got our attention with at Tenpenny, so when our server told us the squid ink bucatini with black garlic, dungeness crab, maitake and chili was the most popular dish on the menu, obviously we ordered it. Clocking in at over $30, this is not a cheap bowl of pasta. But it's a tasty one, that's for damn sure. The holed out thick spaghetti was cooked perfectly al dente, and had all that subtle squid ink flavor. Not an absolute must, but this was a great dish to share.
We freaked out for the baby pig with radish, burdock and apple. It's up there with other excellent suckling pig dishes we've had, from Salinas to Eleven Madison Park. A crispy top, with rich, slow roasted piglet underneath, this dish is simply superb. Order it.
Another dish we very much enjoyed and highly recommend. The duck had a beautiful sear on it, cooked rare and lying in a bed of jujubes and farro in a ridiculous black garlic sauce. Delicious.
Even the sides are impressive here, as this sunchoke deserves to be discussed as well. Diced up, roasted chokes with hazelnuts and saba make for quite a flavor profile. This is the "side" to get.