Chances are, you’ve already spotted new casual Italian restaurant Pietro Nolita on social media even though it’s not fully open yet. It is striking because it is all pink. Everything — the chairs, the tables, the walls, the sign, and the pots for all the plants — is a different shade. You will be able to spot it on Elizabeth Street easily by its facade, which is also pink with white sunbursts. "It’s a relaxing color," says co-owner Mina Soliman, who used to manage Indochine. "We didn’t want to go with a traditional rustic feel of an Italian restaurant." The other co-owner Pietro Quaglia, who’s also an investor in Miss Lily’s, notes that it’s a derivative of red, which he considers a strong and powerful color. "It means love, it means happiness, it means so many things," he says. "When you go to eat, that’s what you want."
The decor is supposed to evoke a ‘50s-style diner, if a diner only used pastels. Quaglia used to eat only at diners when he first moved to New York from Milan at age 19. He’s seen lots of restaurants in the U.S. try to evoke traditional restaurants from Italy, like trattorias, and he wanted one to do the opposite — an American-style diner but with Italian food. Like a diner, it will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s currently just open for breakfast until the gas gets turned on.
The food itself will be "healthy Italian," with a menu that will change seasonally, the duo says. Breakfast options include a bread basket, soft scrambled eggs with croissants, and an Italian-inspired coffee-flavored waffle with mascapone and amaretto. Dinner and lunch will feature Mediterranean-influenced fare and pasta dishes, including steak with roasted peppers, farro salad with squash, and a fusilli dish. Some of the menu items will even be pink, like cocktails and pasta. One of chef Oliviero Borgna’s favorite dishes is a pink spaghetti made with tomato sauce and ricotta, a combination that’s naturally pink.
Don’t be surprised if you see the fashion folk of New York snapping pictures of all the pinkness this fall. Quaglia and Soliman met while working at fashion designer Dolce and Gabbana years ago, and they still have many friends in the industry. (Pietro Nolita has also been particularly publicized in fashion publications instead of food ones.) Both predict that all their old friends in fashion will be visiting the restaurant, and Soliman says with the Instagram-friendly space, she expects young women and people inspired by fashion to be coming in, too. Besides food, they’ll be selling t-shirts that say "Pink As Fuck" to go along with the decor.
But the team doesn’t want the restaurant to be a blip on the radar because of its whole pink schtick. Most of the food won’t be pink, and they won’t be throwing pink food coloring in dishes just for the sake of it. Any coloring will be natural, like with beet juice. Quaglia’s mother, an inspiration for the food, even came in from Italy recently to help out with the menu. "It’s not meant to be gimmicky," Soliman says. "The space is fun and kitschy and beautiful, but the food is very important to us."