I admit it: I like food. But not just any food. I’ve found precious few eateries that tease my picky palate. If I’m in the mood for something fresh and original I usually make it myself – or taste-test whatever my roommate Jen is cooking.
But the other day I tried a new restaurant called Pulcinella. It’s just a hole in the wall – nothing fancy – the type of family-owned Italian place where you’d expect to see red-and-white checkered tablecloths and dripping tapered candles.
As I stepped through the door I was drawn like a magnet to the dessert case. Beautiful homemade cakes, éclairs, tiramisu, cheesecakes … all made from scratch right behind the counter. We watched a lady frost a carrot cake. I made a mental note: I must get dessert.
Since I’m a creature of habit, if I find one thing I like at a restaurant I’ll order it every time I go. New restaurants and new menus are a little scary to me –so many untested choices! But the menu at Pulcinella was so different and so exciting that I spent forever making up my mind and the friendly server had to return to me again and again.
I finally decided on L’Arlecchino, a sandwich with sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, ham, prosciutto, salami and artichokes with a homemade vinaigrette sauce, all on fresh Italian bread.
As we waited for our lunch and munched on warm crusty bread, a lively gaggle of Italian grandmothers came in, chattering away to each other in Italian a mile a minute, and calling out greetings to the kitchen staff. The owner, Gino, from Naples, came by our table to say “hi” … and to watch the Italy/Bellarussia soccer game broadcast on the big screen.
When the sandwich came, it was massive. The server had to instruct me how to push the contents back into the sandwich with a knife and press down firmly on the bread in order to actually fit it in my mouth. Olive oil dripped down my hand as I took my first bite. Oh, what texture! What smell! What flavor! It made Olive Garden fare taste like cardboard.
If you go to Pulcinella (and in my opinion you must), here is my advice: order dessert first. The portions are so large that by the time you’re done with your meal dessert doesn’t look half as good as it did before and if you skip out on dessert, you’ll be missing a treat.
Fresh, delicious, original, authentic Italian food. Excellent service and friendly staff. A visit to Pulcinella is like a mini trip to Italy.