The first thing you notice when you enter Piora is that it is very loud. They have some higher tables right by the entrance before you get to the hostess, and there were some large groups, apparently celebrating the holidays. This whole area is right by the bar, so it would make sense to be a little extra loud at this point.
After about 5 minutes waiting at the bar, the hostess informed us that our table was ready, and led us to it. What a nice surprise it was! Although making a last minute reservation, we got the most perfect table: a table for two by the window, which shows the most wonderful garden in a tiny space, right behind a Christmas garland.
It was as romantic as it could be, exactly what we were hoping for as a do-over for our birthdays – which we celebrated at Narcissa, a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for ages, but which absolutely disappointed. But, again, there was this very, very loud noise. No parties at the dining room, so I can only assume the restaurant’s acoustic is not so good. But, hopefully, it was our only complaint.
We ordered the wine, and quickly went over the menu – we were starving. Executive Ched Christopler Cipollone gives us three options of menu: two course prix fixe ($55), three course prix fixe ($75), and the chef’s tasting ($125). You have four options in each of the courses categories – which they mark like this: *, **, ***. We originally wanted the two courses, but choosing from one of the pastas and one of the meats. They politely informed us that they usually suggest choosing one from the appetizers (*) and one of the meats (***), but allow to choose from one of the pastas instead for an extra $20. Which seemed to us like a polite way to say that you either choose an appetizer and meat, or do the three courses instead. We decided to go for the three courses.
Before getting to that, they brought us an amouse bouche, potato soup. Tasty, but nothing spectacular. They apparently have this amazing monkey bread with seaweed butter ($6), but it seemed like too much food, so we didn’t order it.
Then came our appetizers. I asked our server for her suggestion, and without even blinking she said I should order the egg, her favorite. The menu plainly said: “chicken wing, potato, artichoke barigoule”, and did not prepare me for what was coming at all. The way it is arranged, you find the ingredients bit by bit. The chicken wings come first, really crispy, and tender on the inside. The potato is actually a cream, and fills almost the entire plate – which, by the way, was huge! -, and hides the rest of the ingredients. In the middle, you find the fried egg. And it’s such a great surprise to pierce it and see the yolk melting with the rest of the ingredients. Then you find the artichokes. Perfect combination.
My boyfriend had the pork belly with kimchi, egg yolk and oyster leaf. It was also super tasty, but very spicy, so you have to like those. The other appetizers also seemed really interesting. I saw a bunch of pictures of the market vegetables, which change seasonally, and look amazing. The apple also intrigued me, including pretzel, farro, and cheddar. And then there’s the squash, not to be missed in any fall menu, with pistachio, truffle, and parmesan.
The appetizers’ sizes scared us a little bit, and we thought we wouldn’t be able to eat everything that was still coming along. For the pastas, my boyfriend went for the gnocchi, with local mushrooms, fonduta, and fontina val d’aosta. The gnocchi was super soft and creamy, and the mushrooms tasted amazing.
I decided to go for the daily special, duck ravioli with fried duck pieces on top it it. Yummy! The pasta dishes were a little smaller, perfectly sized for the three course menu.
By the time we got to our meat dishes, we were already well fed, but I’ve been eyeing my choice from my neighbor’s table for the last hour. I chose the heritage pork, which came with fig, apple, and soppressata. The perfect mixture of salt and sweet, as I like it.
My boyfriend had the rohan duck. Crispy skin and tender meat. Includes plums and beet, so the dish is very reddish. Also comes with a lavendar wine sauce reduction, which they pour over the dish in front of you. Delish! This is one of the most talked about dishes at this restaurant, but I actually preferred my choice.
We didn’t have dessert. It was a shame, because I had a sweet tooth that day. But we simply couldn’t have more food. Also, two out of five options had coconut, which didn’t make me very happy. But, overall, we had an amazing experience. Definitely one of our best restaurants lately.
Piora means “to blossom” in Korean, and reflects the origins of Simon Kim, the proprietor, and Chef Christopher Cipollone, with Italian heritage. But I would say the restaurant is more modern American style. The restaurant has a 300 label wine list carefully chosen by Chef Sommelier Kype Ridington. It’s located in the West Village, on Hudson Street, which, needless to say at this point, is one of my favorite locations. It’s very close to many other cute restaurants, and big ones such as EN Brasserie. It recently received a Michelin star, and has 26 points on Zagat.
It is sure worth the visit! Into our best of 2014 list.
430 Hudson St (between Leroy St & St Lukes Pl in West Village)
New York, NY 10014
Open Sunday – Wednesday from 5:30PM – 10:30PM
And Thursday – Saturday from 5:30PM – 11:30PM
Reservations through Open Table (note that this is one of the few restaurants which requests a credit card to hold even smaller tables).
Our Rating: ★★★★