The Bruni Digest

In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe. This blog is predicated on the suggestion that every Wednesday, in the Times Dining Out section, Frank lays a huge faberge egg of hilarity.

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Location: New York, New York, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am fiscally irresponsible, which means I have weak bones and a dorsal fin. And a penchant for dining out, even though I am, in the words of many rich people, a "poor people". I make a different face when speaking each of the foreign languages in which I am shittily proficient.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pylos: Why Pymore?

At the East Village Greek spot Pylos, the fact that the ceiling is conspicuously covered in thousands of clay jugs is bound to take center stage. When I look at the jug-laden ceiling, I can’t help but feel

a) kindred (I’m totally jug-laden!)

and b) like there are 1,000 bosomy virgins waiting outside the restaurant and some woefully unattended spigot somewhere. I mean, it’s like if there are 1,000 razor scooters parked on the ceiling don’t you kind of look around and go, “Where’s the horde of helmet-clad librarians in Reeboks?”

But sitting at his large Vegas-showgirl vanity bureau, chewing thoughtfully on the end of his ostrich-feather pen/ tickler, Frank thought long and hard—not about how to approach these imposing jugs, but about WHICH PUN to use. He scribbled on the leather pages of his Ferragamo notepad:

It’s gettin’ pot in here
The grapes of carafe
Dungeons and flagons
You’ve lost that oven-baked ceiling...

Then it came to him-- the Count clapped and giggled and set quill to calfskin:

“The clay’s the thing.”

With that, the salons of the Upper West Side tittered with glee. A damsel swooned.

Well, "ate pavement" really.

The Count continues…

“[Clay is] what more than 1,000 unglazed pots attached to the restaurant's ceiling are made of. They hang upside down, dramatic and seemingly perilous, drawing your eye and maybe even making you feel a little chicken. This sky really does look as if it could fall.”

Nothing like a little survival-instinct tremor when you’re filling up on pita. Reminds me of that SUPERHOT Italian restaurant in the city in the 1970’s that wrapped your shins in pancetta and dangled you over a shark tank.

It ruined a few Bar-Mitzvah-Dancer careers early, but it sure was exciting! Are you listening, Batali? A sniper tucked in the olive barrel at Casa Mono would be a good start.

“Pylos [is] (pronounced pee-LOHS)…”

As in I have to pee-LOHS now than I did ten seconds ago.
Um, speaking of which, my pants asked me to ask you guys if anyone has any spare Resolve. Thanks.

Oh, and my office chair says to "make it snappy."

“[Pylos] opened in 2003, replacing a more casual restaurant called It's Greek to Me.”
THANK GOD. That’s all I have to say about that.

Bruni cites Pylos's “determination to stand out from other Greek restaurants by moving beyond lamb, whole grilled fish and stuffed grape leaves.” This smacks of one of my favorite Bruni reviews of all time-- Periyali. It was the most recent occasion, before Pylos, that Frank had jumped into a senatorial toga and elaborate mandals, and hit up a Greek joint. As you recall, he was impressed at various modica of ingenuity from such swill-diving shit-eaters as Greek people.

A delighted patron at Greece’s as-yet-michelin-unrated “Sloppy Nikos’ Crap Pit.” That bucket is Limoges, you know!

"Pylos also musters a hipper ambience than Greek restaurants usually attempt, the clay canopy playing a major role in that."

Earthenware vessels make the place cooler? Since when is rustic peasant gear “hip,” Frank?

I stand corrected. I also stand alarmed at the HUGE Franken-hand coming in from stage right.

But overall, while he rides the fence (like a pony) about the food, Frank has nothing but praise for the layout and the décor.

"Pylos rewards adventurous wine drinkers with a long, all-Greek wine list. After a few glasses, the clay pots, more than three pounds each, become even more transfixing."
So to answer your question about the wine list at Pylos, yes, it is alcoholic.

"Mr. Valtzoglou said he initially thought he would import pots from Greece, but learned that a nonprofit group on his block taught teenagers to make pottery. He contracted to get his reddish-brown pots from them."

Nonprofit? SUCKAZZZZ. The kids in my 'hood who sell pot are making a killing.

"Each pot is secured with heavy wire: no danger of a claystorm or clayslide here."
Oh good. There's nothing more reliable than a sturdy crockstrap!

No matter where you keep your stoneware.

And P.S.: A shout-out to Frank for his impeccable, correctionless record this year, as noted by Gawker. I'm sure that in accuracy-wrestling match, I'd go down like a Kappa Gamma Phi at the Anything-for-Money mixer. In an arm wrestling match, clearly the winner would be the concept of "nanciness."


Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Jules: If you don't get enough fan mail, it's only because your posts are too good for us mortals to think up clever comments for. Brava. Bookmarked.
I can hardly imagine how fast you search for images for your snarky remarks... and still get your post up the same day as Bruni.

9:53 PM, December 28, 2005  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

Dear Julia,
I want to mention my usual Members Only jacket wearing Starbucks latte handout day laborer but I'm laughing so hard the tears are flowing down my jug laden canopy bosom. I'm bouncing over to the pottery wheel now to commune with the hood.
Funny thing though, The Count always says: "I'm not racist; one of my best friends is Greek!" I think he might mean me!

Efharisto poli,
Amanda Constantlytopoless

11:12 PM, December 28, 2005  
Blogger The Write Stuff said...

But how are the prices? Are they ex-Zorba-tant? It's important to know, because, as they say, a penny saved is a penny Urned. Hearing that this restaurant is inexpensive would be Mousaka to my ears.

11:39 AM, December 29, 2005  
Anonymous Plainsman said...

Gratifying; a good, solid effort.

Kinda hard this week, wasn't it? Pylos review was sorta prosaic. Far cry from the free-fire zones of Red Cat or Periyali, strewn with high-value targets.

Or crap like this, from his 2004 review of Cafe Gray:

"If you skew gooey, rest assured that [the hazelnut souffle] does too. The list of wines by the glass skews brief and somewhat boring. The service skews unreliable."

Yeah, dude, and my office furniture skews distressed because I just hurled my coffee mug at it after re-reading that. Ruins the word "skew" for at least a decade. Too bad you weren't around then.

Back to Pylos, here's where I went audible:

"Pylos rewards adventurous wine drinkers with a long, all-Greek wine list. After a few glasses, the clay pots, more than three pounds each, become even more transfixing."

So to answer your question about the wine list at Pylos, yes, it is alcoholic.

1:14 PM, December 29, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

It's so true-- sometimes I gotta hussle more than others. But just when I think he's gone straight on me or relinquished his wacky voice, out comes a Ninja or a Keens. Don't lose hope, Plainsman--and terrific Gray quote-- that was totally a doozy.

1:53 PM, December 29, 2005  

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