Violet is permanently closed
Pizza in East Village
Violet is the newest pizza place from the team behind Emily and Emmy Squared - two restaurants that have successfully changed New Yorkers’ minds about what counts as great New York pies, and also boosted Detroit-style pizza’s SEO (we assume). This place serves another type of pizza that you probably haven’t eaten before in NYC: thin, grilled pies inspired by the ones at a famous Rhode Island restaurant. Like running shoes or people your parents prefer you don’t date, pizza can come in many varieties - and we’re all for experimentation. But in this case, it just isn’t very good.
What is this pizza, exactly? Well, it has a chewy crust with grill marks on both sides, it’s only slightly thicker than a sheet of expensive printer paper, and you cut it yourself with a very large pair of golden scissors. The crust tastes great, but, like the Germanic tribes in Rome, it’s also responsible for this pizza’s downfall, since it seems to repel any and all of the toppings and sauces Violet uses. This is especially true on the “classic” pie, topped with havarti cheese, several islands of sweet tomato sauce, scallions, and enough oil to catch and hold Dick Cheney’s attention. Most of the other pies involve creative flavor combinations, but in general, the toppings at Violet tend to be salty and heavy, and even our favorite pizza on the menu - a white pie with clams, duck prosciutto, and hoisin sauce called “The Dune Duck” - will make you want to go home, chug water, and pretend you live in the scene from the Fiji label.
Pizza aside, there are a few seafood starters we’re fans of - like the bone marrow with trout roe, and the smoked mackerel pâté that comes with some excellent homemade potato chips. There’s also a section of pastas you might be tempted to explore. We’ve tried them all, though, and it’d be understandable to think they were made by your friend who always overdoes it with the Trader Joe’s brand sea salt. The only exception is the duck tortellini in Sichuan oil, which is something we’d definitely eat again.
The name recognition of Violet’s sister restaurants means that this place is constantly full of people, in a space that’s already tight to begin with. The dining room is about the size of an East Village railroad apartment, but with more humans than you’d ever willingly invite to yours. It’s loud, has bumping music, and is overall a pretty tough place to have a conversation - or even just hear yourself think when you’re looking at the menu, and trying to have a self-reflective moment about what pizza means to you.
As far as we’re concerned, pizza will always be something worth experimenting with - and at Emily and Emmy Squared, we still have to stop ourselves from hoarding more than our share of the pies. We just won’t be back to keep eating the grilled pizzas here.
We love swimming. Usually we bring floaties, do cartwheels in the water, and smile through our sunburn. But the pools of grease on this pizza make us want to stay on land for at least a year and a half.
Beech Vibes Pizza
This one has mushroom paste, sweet tahini drizzle, hon shimeji mushrooms, truffle salt, and thyme. It tastes even busier than it sounds.
Dune Duck Pizza
For one or two slices, this pie with clams, duck prosciutto, and hoisin sauce is relatively enjoyable. It’s pretty salty, but there’s sweetness there too. Just take it slow - it’s heavy.
Extravagant but actually one of the best things here. It’s got a lot of trout roe on top, and small triangles of pizza dough for dipping and sandwich-creating, which is maybe this dough’s true calling.
Smoked Mackerel Pâté
This smoked mackerel makes us feel like a rich person’s cat during feeding time. It’s creamy and chunky, and comes with some spicy chili sauce and homemade potato chips on the side.
Stuffies (stuffed clams with breading, chopped-up clam, and sausage) are a New England thing, only in this version you can’t taste any clams whatsoever. Instead you get shells full of what tastes like mushy pretzel stuffing, with a dollop of uni on top.
If pasta with vodka sauce and ricotta sounds like something you’re into, the next logical question is, are you also into salt? Because it should basically be listed on the menu with this dish.
This is a pesto pasta with small pieces of chorizo and Chinese broccoli. The pesto is OK when you eat it with the noodles, but most of it sinks to the bottom of the bowl - so you get fusilli with a swamp of green oil underneath.
These are served in Sichuan oil. The sauce is not super spicy or punch-you-in-the-face flavorful, but the pasta itself is pretty good.