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Pete Wells Finds an Italian Restaurant in Little Italy That He Actually Likes

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And a wine list to boot

Visitors to Little Italy finally have a strong Italian option with the arrival of Pasquale Jones, according to Pete Wells. As a critic in New York, Wells has strongly mixed feelings regarding gentrification — and the arrival of restaurants like Pasquale Jones in neighborhoods where they never existed before. But the critic likes what the Charlie Bird team brings to that stretch of Mulberry Street:

At Pasquale Jones (as at the French-Italian L’Amico and the California-Italian Upland, among others), pizza is not a single-minded pursuit but a menu category. The crust is crisp and airy, speckled black around the rim. The kitchen didn’t get much mileage out of squash flowers by wilting a few on a bed of mozzarella, with some cherry tomatoes and dribbles of pesto. It sounds like a straight shot of summer breeze, but the flavors didn’t ride along.

One pizza that rises above toppings-on-dough status to cohere into a memorable whole is the clam pie. A little cream extends the flavor of juicy chopped littlenecks marinated in garlic. That could get Pasquale Jones run out of New Haven, but on Mulberry Street, it’s a great idea.

Other sections of the menu like pastas include favorites like thin tajarin with corn, cream, and shaved summer truffle. Still, while Pasquale excels in many areas, it has only mastered a few:

This long and restless menu gives Pasquale Jones a master-of-none quality. Several pizzerias have more finely tuned doughs or dynamic toppings; other kitchens reach much deeper into the pasta canon. There are a lot of little reasons to eat at Pasquale Jones. For big reasons, you have the clam pizza and pork shank, maybe, and the wine. No maybe about the wine.

Clam pizza, a solid pork shank, and an impressive wine list served in Zalto glasses prevail. Wells gives Pasquale Jones two stars.

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