Like the Shepard Fairey mural across the street, which has already been defaced, Pulino's produces strong feelings. To some, Keith McNally can do no wrong on the restaurant scene. He did, after all, mastermind the coed bathroom and, more recently, lure Nate Appleman from San Francisco. To his detractors, he's rehashing the same formula (c.f. the use of porcelain tile here, at Schiller's, at Pastis, etc.). To them, he's all trend and no substance (c.f. the impossible reservation line for dinner here and at Minetta Tavern).
What sold us on a trip south was the opportunity to have pizza for breakfast. (Apparently such an opportunity also sold Nora Ephron and Nicholas Pileggi, who were eating nearby.) As our pizza moved from sunlight to shadow, we too had mixed feelings. The porchetta's salted pork resembled thick cuts of sandwich meat (a plus), which made us long for our coppa from a few weeks ago (a minus), while the salame piccante was better than your average pepperoni (another plus). Nice enough meat, but the crust on both was so thin, so very, very thin (a ginormous minus).
Just when we thought the pies weren't living up to the hype, our dessert arrived. The cannella, topped with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, tasted like a carnival, greasy and fried and meant to be scarfed up quickly, before it was time to turn our table.