Pil Pil – The Warm Glow of Basque Culture

| October 3, 2012

Stepping through the door into Pil Pil transports you into a magical and unique setting like no other in NYC. You are immediately Pil Pil Bardrawn to the bar, which is distinctively decorated with illuminated bottles of wine protruding from the wall. A warm welcome from the hospitable staff establishes what is sure to be an extraordinary evening out. The high-top tables are reminiscent of a true tapas bar in Barcelona but are uniquely separated by wooden dividers held together by floating bottles of wine that add just the right amount of intimacy to the dining experience. Enhancing the special décor further, are the warm brick walls and distinctive placement of tree branches and vines interwoven on the ceiling that provide a nature-like feel almost like you are dining under a natural canopy. The dim lighting with candle accents sets the stage for a fabulous date or a special chat with friends.

The menu is furnished with Basque style tapas from seasoned olives and a selection of flat-breads to skirt steak and chicken, plenty of choices to satisfy any craving.

We started with the Pimientos de Padron, a dish I fell in love with in Barcelona a couple of years ago. The element of surprise makes this an all the more interesting dish. The peppers are simply prepared by light frying and garnished with sea salt. They are mostly mild and quite delicious but there are always a few extra spicy ones in the batch that will set your mouth ablaze. It’s nearly impossible to tell which ones are spicy by sight (although it tends to be the smallest ones) so if you are not fond of a fiery experience eating them is a bit of a gamble.  To round out the flavors we ordered the Chorizo in wine sauce, a delicious preparation and the Gambas Al Ajillo (shrimp with garlic sauce).

While enjoying our bottle of Valserrano Rioja we couldn’t resist trying some additional dishes. We moved on to the flatbread with Serrano Ham, Manchego Cheese and grapes–the perfect melt-in-your-mouth fusion of flavors. Along with that we added the Carne Adobada, the grilled skirt steak marinated in Spanish paprika served with French Fries topped with just the right amount of spicy ketchup and aoli sauce. The steak was cooked perfectly and the fries were so irresistible there wasn’t a single survivor.

Pil Pil is a wonderful find for a glass of wine, a few tapas or a full meal. This is a neighborhood gem we will frequent often.
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