photo credit: PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLE GUGLILMO
The team that runs Prunella has basically done it all. They operate Graffiti, a bar on the side of a street, Alpen Rose, a high-end steakhouse, Double Knot, a Japanese speakeasy, and Via Locusta, a pasta spot to take out-of-towners when you want to impress them. You might be thinking, "what's left to accomplish?"
Well, we're here to tell you this Italian restaurant in Midtown Village actually offers something different: incredible pizza. Combine that with the elements that made all of the other places great, like a conversation-starting interior featuring old photos of Italy, memorable dishes, and an always busy dining room, and you have somewhere that you could bring practically anybody and have a good time.
Focus your attention on both the pizza and pasta here, since not ordering them would be like heading to Six Flags just to play carnival games—you’d completely miss the main attraction of the place. Although some can be hit or miss, the ones that stand out are truly great. Try the minty saffron cavatelli that has super tender lamb and then get the thin-crust Rabe The Bank pizza that’s covered in creamy cacio di roma, bits of n’duja, and charred eggplant. They’ve really got the crust down here, too. The style is sort of like a mix between Neapolitan and NY-style, with a thin and chewy dough, perfect char rings, and bubbly air pockets along the edges. Add on some cheese, soft eggplant, and peppery sausage, and you’ve got a pie with ingredients that may be the second-best trio of all time—behind Beyoncé, Michelle, and Kelly, of course.
The menu does have more small plates than pasta and pizza, and out of the dozen or so options, the octopus, scallop crudo, and black bass are the way to go. The octopus is thick and juicy, and it’s easily one of the best we’ve had in the city. This section of the menu shows that Prunella specializes in using only a handful of elements and really lets the high-quality and well-prepared seafood or meat in each dish shine.
They have as many seats indoors as they do outdoors, so this is a spot where you can bring your friends who love to people-watch. During Happy Hour, you might find a line of people waiting for a table, or groups that are just happy to pass time with a $6 glass of merlot on their outdoor dining setup. Inside, there’s a long marble bar where you can sip on a simple daiquiri with Campari or get an orange wine recommendation from the bartender while being sandwiched next to some friends giving terrible relationship advice. And because lots of people come here during peak dinner hours, the space can get loud and busy to a point where you start to notice your proximity to other people.
But we all should be glad that a spot like Prunella exists. Even days after our meals here, we still can’t get a lot of the pasta, pizzas, and small plates out of our heads. While it might appear to be another trendy spot in a popular restaurant group's collection, we’ll bet that it’ll soon become one of your go-to places in Midtown Village.
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The thick pieces of octopus here have just the right amount of crispiness. Served with a cool potato salad that has spring onion and arugula, it’s the star of the small plates section of the menu.
This crudo gets a hint of sweetness from the bits of apple, and the combo with the chunky scallops really works. Plus, outside of making the citrusy sauce look like a lava lamp, the green chili gives the entire blend some nice pepperiness.
This cheesy pasta has a mix of doughy cavatelli and tender ground bits of lamb that sort of melt in your mouth. It’s the pasta to go for here, especially if you’re here with a group sharing everything.
This is the creamiest pasta on the menu. It’s a simple mix of salty pancetta, english peas, and grated parmesan that make the whole thing both super buttery. It’s not a must-try, though, so you can skip and head right to the pizza.
Kareem The Dream
We love the sweet braised pears in this pizza, we just wish there were more of them. Because when you get a slice that blends the peppery sausage, thyme, and stewed pears together, it becomes a pizza we could eat all day.
Rabe The Bank
Expect a thin pie with smoky edges and a chewy crust. And with spicy n’duja sausage, bits of eggplant, and creamy cacio di roma, this pizza has a great balance of pepper and tang. It’s the best pizza here, so you should definitely order it.
This charred bass is light and juicy, served with basil and snap peas to give each bite a bit of a crunch. It’s one of the best things on the menu and it shows that you can have something great here that’s not made out of dough.