(photo from google search)

It was a buzzy night as usual at Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria. Surprising for a Sunday night, but it seemed everyone inside the warmly lit restaurant had decided not to let the impending Monday Glumday affect their boozy plans for the evening. Situated on the corner of Bowery, the giant glowing red letters and the large arched windows contained a copy of the interior one would find at Balthazar and Schillor’s Liquor Bar – all stamped with McNally – and the festive decor held a promise of a damn good time with friends.

Be prepared to offer your liver as a sacrifice for a table for 5, without reservations, and if you are a Bloody Mary fan, you’ll be rewarded with a section of variations on that theme. If you are boring little old me, you’ll be quite happy after a couple of glasses of sparkling rose. And then the wait doesn’t seem so bad.

It was close to 9pm by the time we got seated, after an hour and a half wait at the bar. We ordered liberally, 3 different pies, and started with something I’d had before and could never forget – roasted sugar snap peas with hen of the woods mushroom salad. Another app of smoked sablefish, and that was enough to keep us satisfied between bites, slurps, and conversation.

A week later, I was bit by a bug who convinced me it wouldn’t be too hard to recreate a part of that memorable meal. After work that night, I stopped by Dean & Deluca to purchase a bunch of frisee, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a lemon, and baby brussel sprouts to sub the sugar snap peas, which disappointingly, were not in stock.

Quick toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, the shallots, mushrooms, and brussel sprouts were roasted. The frisee rinsed and laid into the bottom of a dish. Breadcrumbs were sauteed in olive oil with chopped garlic. Everything was combined and drizzled with some lemon juice. And then a taste…

Maybe the cat will eat it.

Disaster. Way too tart and salty, not at all crunchy and refreshing like the one I’d had at Pulino’s. A sad waste of great ingredients, I could barely finish the plate. The half of leftover ingredients I saved were sauteed for lunch a couple of days later, a more traditional and comfortable preparation, but still nothing like the magic I had tasted. Looks like another trip out is in order!