- scene: People in suits from work and date-nighters; a professional downtown crowd
- sip: mixology list; wine, you know the drill
- savor: monkey bread; crab pasta; suckling pig; halibut
- sit: With a date; with a girl friend who likes to share food
- spend: $$$
- address: 430 Hudson Street (at Morton)
- phone number: (212) 960-3801
- website: www.pioranyc.com
Piora, I like you, but I am scared to get attached. Your atmosphere is polished, your food tasty and evolved, and your service fairly competent, but your prices might be prohibitive in the long run. The West Village is littered with restaurants past that came in hot and failed to keep it up due to the lack of neighborhood ease, and I would hate to see you go that route. I am really glad I tried Piora, and something about the vibe and food reminded me slightly of Bar Blanc and Sister of Bistro de la Garre, both may they rest in peace. In order to survive in the Wild West (Village), you are going to have to offer an experience that is more easily repeated for local clientele.
Piora is a pretty space, narrow bar up front leading into a dining room with a wall of windows looking out onto a constructed little garden. The room is loud, and the banquettes are just a little too low, I felt like I needed to sit on a phone book, and the woman at a neighboring table said there was no way she could reach if she sat on the couch side. The greeters were friendly, as was our server, but her tenedency to oversell on a menu littlered with $30+ entrees lost her some credibility. We were told how many dishes the chef advises we order (would have been way too much food), and told about a special pasta with white truffles (which sounded delicious for $72), and then asked if we would like to begin with the sommelier recommened “Quiet Conversations” sparkling wine. I was in the mood for some champers so we ordered two of those before we even got to peek at the price, which was an egregious $29 a glass. GRRRRRRR….
Anyway, we knew we wanted the monkey bread, and went from there. Our order was taken by a man in a suit who spazzed a bit when I began ordering and said ” to start” and he got all red in the face and said ” We really need to put your order in all at once.” When I explained to him that I was simply “starting” our order, he regained his composure enough to take our order. We settled on the tuna and beets, crab linguine, halibut and suckling pig. The monkey bread is made up of just warm yummy baked rolls, with two types of butter- nori and lardo. There were six pieces in an order and we pretty much ate them all; the butters were a thoughtful touch that added another layer of flavors, especially the rich, salty lardo version. The tuna crudo with beets and black sesame was described as a very red dish, and that it was- I couldn’t discern the tuna from the beets at first, but eventualy got the hang of it; the seasame added some needed texture and crunch, making it all come together nicely. The crab pasta was spicy and addicting, just about crave-worhty; this could be a stand alone entree. My suckling pig was delicious- a long log of shredded pork on the bottom, topped with crispy pork skin; there was some apple element that added some sweetness, always a great combo, and I enjoyed the presence of the burdock. Sister’s halibut was fresh and light, really well constructed and cooked perfectly. Bottom line: We had a lovely time, enjoyed everything that we ate and respect the vision of Piora (they are getting great press). The up-selling put a slightly uncomfortable taste in our mouth, and we advise people to be on alert for that. We say to definnitely check out Piora, and then let us know if you will be going back…