Perla has always held a special place in my heart, from its original location on Minetta Lane where my brother worked as sous chef and my husband brought me on one of our first fancy dates. It’s always reminded me of what I’ve loved the most about New York dining: A tiny, plush space filled with light fixtures and art I wish I was cool enough to own, a miniature kitchen that fits a shocking amount of talent, and dishes that knock your socks off. Perla was special. The new location and name extension in the Village had a lot to live up to.
After crushing 13.1 miles in the Brooklyn Half and being in dire need of a hearty brunch, we were eager to give Perla 2.0 a try. I immediately noticed the complete contrast of Perla Cafe’s new interiors to its former interiors. Light, bright, and full of white, this was a very different daytime vibe than its darker predecessor. Which happens to be a perfect atmosphere for brunch! I also happened to notice restaurateur and owner Gabe Stulman brunching across the bar with his son when we sat down; what better marketing is that?!
We dived right into the menu, and caffeine. Big, frothy almond milk lattes were the first on our list. Folks were eating lots of glorious looking entrees all around us at the bar, which took up the majority of the seated space inside the restaurant. Wrap-around bar dining is my favorite kind of dining, because you have an appropriate excuse to people watch while you eat!
We quickly placed food orders because we couldn’t handle the aromas wafting around us. Paul selected the parmigiano biscuits with poached eggs, sweet Italian sausage, and broccoli rabe pesto. It was a beautiful plate of green, and really inventive. I couldn’t try the biscuit, but I had a lovely bite of the sausage with egg. There was a lot of sausage, which Paul loved, and it was a really interesting flavor combo. Not to mention, the dish was huge, which we welcomed.
I ordered the “fan favorite” of our party – soft polenta with poached eggs, lamb ragout, and ricotta. It was like a delicious breakfast soup. The polenta was a wonderful consistency with the soft poached eggs and the flavor was so rich despite its liquidy form. This is the epitome of a comfort dish. Plus, it’s gluten free!
We ordered home fries as a side, which were perfectly crispy and a great complement. I ended up combining some of the burnt ends to my polenta for an added crunch, and Paul used his to mop up all of the remaining pesto sauce.
If our entrees hadn’t been so big, we would have split something else to bolster up the review, but we were utterly full and satisfied. Unfortunately, the problem with brunching at an Italian restaurant is that you’re greeted with scarce gluten free options, so I couldn’t dive into their delicious-looking sourdough pancakes for dessert.
We had a rainy day full of Soho shopping waiting for us outside, but it was hard to tear away from the coziness.
The Bitches say: A. Just like its Perla 1.0 predecessor, Perla Cafe is a gem of a restaurant that’s not to be missed in the West Village. Expect modernized Italian food coupled with comforting classics, and a sunny, daytime vibe.
Perla Cafe. (212) 933 – 1824