Mon-Wed, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 5:30pm-11:30pm; Sun, closed.
1 at Houston St.; C, E at Spring St.; A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Like the name Piora, which sounds vaguely Italianate but is actually Korean for “blossom,” this unlikely establishment, which materialized a couple of months ago without much fanfare or hype, is full of subtle, sometimes unintended contradictions. The chef is Italian-American and the owner Korean-American, and although the cooking contains hints of both cuisines, neither is strong enough for the result to classify as Asian fusion. The two rooms—an elegant bar area up front, a dining room looking out on a well-tended garden in back—are neighborly and inviting in a modestly posh, West Village sort of way. But the service is mannered in the style of much larger, more impersonal restaurants uptown, and if you happen to show up for your early 5:45 table before your guests, you will be brusquely consigned, like I was, to the bar area to cool your heels before “your entire party” arrives, despite the fact that the dining room is still mostly empty.
Piora’s executive chef is Christopher Cipollone, who was last seen turning out very good food in a grimly appointed midtown restaurant called Tenpenny. The owner-manager, Simon Kim, has served time in the Jean-Georges empire. Their different, sometimes competing tastes can be seen in Piora’s signature version of puffy monkey bread, which you can spread with whipped lardo or seaweed butter (or in my case, both). Once we were seated in the dining room (in a less than optimum table by the door), the bread was followed by an elegant assemblage of market vegetables (scattered ingeniously with Thousand Island dressing powder), a wheel of slightly desiccated duck confit (fried, and served with a prune purée flavored with Earl Grey tea), and an excellent egg creation served with artichokes, whipped potatoes, and crunchy bits of deboned chicken wing.
Cipollone has a tendency, now and then, to add two or three extra ingredients to his recipes when one will do, although if you choose wisely, it’s possible to put together an unexpectedly good meal.
Monkey bread, egg with chicken or squash tortellini, Rohan duck.