Nate Appleman’s Pulino’s – NYC
I try to be a good blogger by making repeat visits to restaurants I like before writing about them. Most of the time it’s in my own self-interest. I want to eat more delicious food. Sometimes though, this backfires on me. Businesses unexpectedly close and chefs often leave taking their stamp on the restaurant with them. The latter is what happened at Pulino’s. I ate at the Nate Appleman’s Pulino’s twice and loved their pizza even though they didn’t serve the typical Neapolitan or New York slice. It was different, but still very good. The crusts were thin but never cracker-like. It was crisp with just enough poof. The cut was also different. The large pizzas were cut tavern-style or Domino’s thin crust style, in squares even though the pizzas were round. (The small pies were always cut in the regular triangle fashion.) And while not a fan of this cut (you don’t get a good sampling of all the different parts of the pizza, especially when sharing in a group), it was something I could live with.
Well, I guess some people didn’t feel the same way, because two days ago Eater reported Nate Appleman left Pulino’s, and Feast reported the restaurant would now be serving triangle-cut pizzas with thicker crusts. The news was HUGE… at least for this week. As a result, this post will only serve as a record of Pulino’s past deliciousness. Although you won’t be able to go to Pulino’s and eat Nate Appleman’s pizzas anymore, let’s scroll through some tasty memories together.
What I loved at Pulino’s were the egg pizzas (available at breakfast and weekend brunch). The Funghi ($10/small) — comprised of an egg, mushrooms, pancetta, mascarpone, and grana — was a wonderfully rich pie. The pizza was earthy from the mushrooms, salty from the grana and pancetta, and had a tangy creaminess from the mascarpone. And as they normally do, the egg just made everything taste better. (The eggs are added to the pies halfway into cooking so the eggs are always perfectly cooked: whites set, yolks runny.)
However, my favorite was the Salsiccia ($10/small). Made with sausage, bacon, mozzarella, egg, and white cheddar, it leaned towards the salty side, but not more than expected considering the ingredients. With the egg especially, the Salsiccia made for the ideal breakfast pie. What better way to get your sausage, eggs, and cheese in the morning than on a pizza? And if you tried the Salsiccia and thought the sausage tasted familiar, in an interview, Appleman said he and his crew ate a lot of Jimmy Dean to make a similar breakfast-style sausage. To his credit, the sausage at Pulino’s tasted similar, but fresher and without the grisly fatty bits.
As for the upskirt or the underbelly (as I like to call it), Appleman’s pies always had a good amount of requisite charring.
The Gamberi ($19/large) was probably the only pie I wasn’t crazy about at Pulino’s. Topped with rock shrimp, speck, tomato, fennel, garlic, and oregano, the pie was decent but lacked oomph. The roasted fennel was nice, but the shrimp was tasteless. And for me, the most egregious fault was that it didn’t have any cheese. Personally, I need cheese on pizza. I can eat pizza without tomato sauce, but cheese is a deal breaker for me. Still, as cheeseless pizzas go, it was good; just not something I would order again. And I wouldn’t be able to anyway, even in it’s thicker, triangle-cut form. I notice the shrimp pie was removed from the menu.
So things are a changin’ at Pulino’s. Perhaps the pies are evolving into something better. I’m open to the possibility. But regardless, Nate Appleman, your pizzas (minus the Gamberi) will be be missed.