With this morning's announcement about the impending closure and complete overhaul of Pulino's, it's time to take a look back at the unusual life of Keith McNally's youngest New York restaurant. From the earliest waves of buzz about that spot on an "ungentrifiable" corner of the Bowery, through a star-studded opening, square pizza slices, chef shuffles and more, here now is a timeline of memorable moments in Pulino's four-year history:
· July 1, 2008: Keith McNally's name appears on the Community Board 2 agenda, for a vacant former restaurant supply store on the Bowery.
· July 9, 2008: The CB2 meeting reveals that this Bowery spot will be a "pizza-centric" restaurant. But the restaurant provokes general public outcry, and CB2 pushes the decision back to September.
· September 10, 2008: That September meeting goes much better. McNally reveals plans for a woodburning oven, a rotisserie, and grilled fish. He projects a winter 2010 opening.
· January 28, 2009: McNally tells the Observer: "I gravitated to that corner because it's a gritty, ungentrifiable, New York crossroads...I always imagined a big, busy, inexpensive pizzeria there. I can make it big and inexpensive. It's the busy I'm worried about."
· June 25, 2009: Almost a year in and McNally says he's "at the stage where I'm pulling out my hair."
· August 21, 2009: The city's biggest free-agent chef, San Francisco import Nate Appleman, signs on as chef to the newly-christened Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria.
· March 1, 2010: The plywood is off, the menu has been revealed, and the media is going nuts. McNally, meanwhile, reveals some deep-set superstitions: "I'm waiting for something. I tend to think that if you get good reviews for one restaurant, the next one generally doesn't. And so I'm worried actually about this place, because Minetta was quite well received."
· March 2, 2010: And signage goes up.
· March 11, 2010: Pulino's opens for friends and family, a preview reveals that Appleman's "very unique" way of cutting the pizzas is actually squares.
· March 12, 2010: Finally, a thorough look inside.
· March 15, 2010: Pulino's opens to the public for breakfast and lunch. Dinner service starts 10 days later.
· March 17, 2010: Everyone files their opinions immediately.
· May 5, 2010: Times critic Sam Sifton files his review a mere seven weeks after the restaurant opens. He gives it an enthusiastic one star.
· May 14, 2010: After New York critic Adam Platt files a lukewarm review, McNally calls him "out of touch."
· September 17, 2010: McNally proposes plans for a smaller Pulino's outpost in the West Village. Community resistance later causes him to abandon that idea.
· November 2, 2010: Nate Appleman announces his departure from the restaurant, calling it a "mutual split." This may explain why they started cutting the pizza into triangles.
[Keith McNally and Tony LiuKrieger, 03/23/11]
McNally quickly taps Tony Liu, his chef at Morandi, to replace Appleman, and Appleman heads to Chipotle.
· October 17, 2013: Keith McNally announces that he will close Pulino's and reopen it as Cherche Midi.
· All Coverage of Pulino's [~ENY~]
· All Coverage of Keith McNally [~ENY~]