|Peering in at Perla|
The Space: Judging by his other restaurants, Stulman's specialty is creating warm and inviting neighborhood gems, and this eatery is no exception. Soft yellow light pours from the door, inviting passerbys into a space that is much larger then it appears at first glance. There are red leather banquettes throughout the room, including one in the front window that is ideal for larger parties of six. A marble bar greets diners as they enter the space - if there's not room there, you can also score a stool at a second counter that overlooks the wood-burning oven in the back of the house.
Lamps are suspended above the tables by pulley systems, and a semi-open kitchen overlooking the dining room provides a sense of hustle and bustle. The space has a more mature feeling than Stulman's other haunts, and a casual, clubby vibe makes it hard to slap on the "twee" label that his detractors like to throw around about his other spots.
The Food: Like Fedora, you'll find a bevy of different meats working their way into the dishes on this menu, which is split into five sections. An appetizer of seared foie gras comes with crispy pig tails and quince while a palate of garganelli comes with tripe, tomato and chili (according to the bartender, the pastas all come in half-sized portions). Mains include rabbit wrapped in smoked pancetta and charred beef tongue with broccoli rabe. Larger dishes coming out of the wood-burning oven include a chicken alla cacciatora for two, which you can score for $65.
The Drink: There are some mixolgy bells and whistles on the drink list, which features cocktails like the Yosemite Sam, a mix of Rittenhouse Rye, Cherry Heering, benedictine, Cocchi Americano and - wait for it - carrot spray. Other ingredients popping up on the list include house-made pepperoni and house-made "ostrich" bitters.
The Crowd: Upscale but laid-back, the folks filling the restaurant on the first evening already made the place feel like a worn-in neighborhood standard. The bar was filled with suit and tie guys, but not the d-baggy types that you'd find a few blocks over in Meatpacking, while the dining room itself played host to a slightly older crowd, many of them who seemed to be friendly with Stulman (who of course was in the house meeting and greeting on the first day).
There were also a few industry types who stopped by to have a drink and offer their well wishes. The first day was decidedly chill - the hordes that pack into the other spots in his mini-empire have yet to descend on this joint.
The Details: 24 Minetta Lane