I usually try to push myself to eat something interesting when dining out, but once in awhile, I just want to eat something safe and reliable. This usually means a traditional Italian restaurant with lots of delicious carbs in a charming, cozy space downtown. Think L’Artusi or Barbuto. And now, another one to add to the list, Perla in the West Village.
It’s refreshing to be in a restaurant like Perla that is more old school in its approach. There is a sincere focus on customer service, the menu is catered to please, not to provoke, and the romantic and grown-up ambiance makes it feel like something special is taking place. I loved how uncomplicated the menu was. A few starters, some vegetables to make you feel like you’re being somewhat healthy, some solid and reliable pastas like spaghetti and gnocchi, and mains that cover all the major proteins that people like to eat.
We always ask the server what their favorites are, even though I’ve heard that this question doesn’t always get you honest answers, but his recommendations were spot on. One of them was the agnolotti, and it was everything you could ever want on a winter’s day, which are fat nuggets of dough drenched in brown butter and stuffed with sweet potato. My mind was blown by how good it was, and even til this day, I am star struck by that delicious encounter.
The orecchiette was a little more interesting, a little edgier with its fragrant and herbal broccoli rabe pesto, but the crumbly italian sausage was a real people pleaser. Even something like sardines in tripe, which sounds disgusting, managed to be comforting and delicious.
I basically love this place and would recommend it to anyone who wants a good meal in the most conventional sense. It’s like the Paris of restaurants. Yes, it’s not the most original, but it does its job so very well. Let the scrappy entrepreneurs take the vegan burgers and poke bowls, and leave classically good cooking to the experts.
24 Minetta Lane (between Ave of the Americas and Macdougal St)
New York, NY 10012