His whole Little Wisco operation is right on the money. Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey's Grocery, Fedora, Perla, and now Chez Sardine. I have never had a bad meal at any of them. What do they all have in common? They are all located around the West Village area, are all small intimate spaces that play awesome music, and the food at each one is top notch. No matter the cuisine, it is innovative comfort food, in the best possible way. I didn't even menton yet how the service is always friendly and knowledgeable. They make you feel the Little Wisco love.
The first time I went to Perla last June was when they first opened, and I fell in love. The other night we returned, and the love affair continues. Helmed by chef Michael Toscano (Manzo), Perla is an excellent casual Italian restaurant, that stands out amongst the dozens of its kind. Located on the quiet Minetta Lane in Greenwich Village, Perla is stylish and trendy, but not pretentious. The place has a downtown hipster vibe (our server was wearing a fedora), but not in an obnoxious way that makes you feel out of place.
We were a party of 6 at 9PM on a busy Saturday night, and after just a few minutes we got seated at the comfy leather booth all the way in the front. Although we had to flag down someone to take our order after the drinks were in, they were really gracious about it and the service was spot on the rest of the night.
The food. We received an amuse of Crostini with ricotta, honey, and sea salt. Sweet and delicious. Next we shared some apps including Red Beets with macho, hazelnuts, and robiola cheese, Arugula with roasted cauliflower and anchovies, and a bunch of sides. The spicy Brocolli Rabe was good and not too bitter, the Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts was licked clean, and the Soft Polenta with asiago & ricotta was insane. Creamy and cheesy and delicious, order it. The Mixed Mushrooms were also a hit. When I took a breather from inhaling this delicious food, I realized there was not a bite left to be had on the whole table.
For the main we got the Whole Roasted Branzino with escarole, orange mint, and fried basil for the table and we each got our own pastas. WOW. I remembered that the pastas were great but this BRANZINO was the bomb. I wanna say it's the best whole fish I've ever had. It was lemony and salty and crispy. Do yourself a favor and get one.
The Gnocchi with spicy tomato sauce and ricotta was delicious if not mind blowing. Creamy and a good solid sauce. The Tajarin (angel-hair like pasta) with black truffles, sage, and parmesan was also delicious.
Everyone is smiling.
Overall another great experience at Perla. This is what dining out should be. It was not cheap, but we were not complaining. Excellent food, chilled ambience, friendly service, and good tunes. Who could ask for anything more?
Can't wait to try Chez Sardine next week. Will keep you posted ;-)
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
Bite Mark: ****
Good For: Date Night, Girl's Night, Family Outing, Foodies
Perla; 24 Minetta Lane, 212-933-1824, www.perlanyc.com