Gabe Stulman, the owner of Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey's Grocery, and Fedora in the West Village, just opened a new Italian restaurant called Perla about a month ago in the former Bellavitae space at 24 Minetta Lane.
The chef Michael Toscano used to work at Babbo and Manzo and his current menu reflects the meaty, rustic flavors of both places. So far I've enjoyed:
- garganelli with tripe, crispy guanciale and tomato
- cavatelli with egg, pancetta, and pecorino (carbonara and cacio e pepe in one dish!)
- guinea hen with black trumpet mushrooms, brussels sprouts, and foie gras gravy
- duck breast and duck leg confit with cabbage and pancetta
- roasted mushrooms contorni
- chocolate crostata with toasted caramel, almonds, and banana.
Toscano handles rich flavors with a light hand, and portion sizes are just right. I wasn't too keen on the cauliflower with tomato and olives side dish or the panna cotta with fennel and grapefruit. Nothing wrong with them, just not as exciting as the other dishes.
The restaurant is already jammed but accepts reservations for groups of four or more. You can also get the full menu at the bar or chef's counter.
The atmosphere is hip but down to earth, and service is friendly and efficient. The noise level is high with a Babbo-esque playlist -- probably not the place for a quiet dinner but for something new and lively (and utterly delicious) Perla fits the bill.