Piora is a sweet, quiet little spot out on Hudson Street in the West Village with a gorgeous backdrop peering into a garden. When you walk in, the mixologists aka bartenders in white lab coats greet you which makes it feel like you are entering into a wild adventure. The menu looks pretty simple and standard. You think “oh there is one of everything here for me: a chicken, duck, pasta or steak.” However, the flavors here are vibrant. It doesn’t taste as simple as it looks listed on the menu. The plating is all very delicate and artistic. I’m sorry if you are”above” paying for bread, but the Monkey Bread served here is worth the $6 price tag. No bread is as fluffy, warm, buttery or soft as this one, and the sea salt sprinkled on top adds to the tingling in your mouth. It’s served with whipped lardo and seaweed butter, but honestly, I didn’t even need it or want to ruin the precious bread with it.
Monkey Bread photo credit Anna Malskaya
Do not overlook the Market Vegetables appetizer. This was my favorite part of the whole night. Composed of about 14 different vegetables and whatever is available that day, this salad style plate of vegetables is captivating. Carrots are carrots right? No, not here. The herbs and spices rock this orange root, and the brussels sprouts are pretty dangerous, too. It’s always changing, so if it doesn’t have carrots maybe try the carrot appetizer. This was on our Best Dishes of 2013 list. We tried the raved about Bucatini with Black Garlic, Dungeness Crab, Maitake and Chili. This pasta is beautifully spun up in a circular shape and bowl, and if you share it, they will bring out two plates (this just warms my heart when restaurants do this). I liked the chili flakes, but without that it wouldn’t be for me. However, most of you probably will, I just always prefer a seafood focused dish to a pasta one unless there is red sauce.
Next, we had the Rohan Duck with Jujube, Farro and Black Garlic. You might overhear one waiter constantly recommending it and using the line “the duck is my favorite I must be my mother’s son.” Weird yes but kind of funny. Anyway, I find it difficult to find a tender duck at restaurants. Scarpetta serves the best I’ve had. Piora’s duck was a bit tough for me; however, the sweet (but not too sweet) sauce paired with the hearty farro is a scrumptious combination that I am not willing to forgo. I liked the garnish and farro better than the actual duck and my dining partner was obsessed with the duck so I’d call that an accidental success.
Piora gives off a peaceful setting and ambiance. It’s comforting while still seeing the ominous backyard in the shadows. It’s a pretty small dining room, so I think it’s best to go with a smaller group or a pair. When you are looking for a classic meal, somewhere with outstanding service and a staff that truly makes you feel special, Piora is your answer.
Piora photo credit Anna Malskaya