Pulino’s, the trendy pizzeria from uber restaurateur Keith McNally, will close for renovations in January and reopen as Cherche Midi sometime in March, Eater reported this morning.
The restaurant opened at 282 Bowery in early 2010, near the start of a dining, retail and cultural boom that transformed New York’s onetime skid row into a fashionable 24/7 destination. Owners of nearby small business that predated the upmarket pizza joint attributed its opening to a subsequent tripling in rents.
Despite that, Pulino’s proved a very rare misstep for McNally, the man behind neighborhood-defining restaurants like Odeon, Balthazar, Pastis, Schiller’s Liquor Bar and the reinvented Minetta Tavern. Opening chef Nate Appleman departed seven months after the debut, and critics never warmed to the Italian fare.
In June, a family trust sold an 11-building portfolio including the Pulino’s property to Joseph Betesh for $62 million.
“Through no one’s fault but my own Pulino’s hasn’t fully worked and I’ve decided to change it quite radically,” Mr. McNally told Eater. “The restaurant will close for extended alterations the first week of January and reopen in the middle of March. It will reopen as a small French restaurant called Cherche Midi and the chefs will be Shane Mcbride (currently executive chef of Balthazar) and Daniel Parilla (currently head sous chef of Minetta Tavern). Shane will be the Executive Chef of Cherche Midi and Daniel the Chef de Cuisine. Both are extremely excited to begin on the project.
“In 33 years I’ve never had to close a restaurant. So on the plus side I’ll finally be first at something.”
Parts of Pulino’s, whose picnic tables were fashioned out of old police barricades, will live in on spirit. Cherche Midi shares its name with a French military prison.