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Pete Wells Digs the Non-Pig Options at Pig Bleecker

The Times critic gives the restaurant an “enthusiastic single star”

Nick Solares

A lot of the home runs on the menu at Pig Bleecker have nothing to do with pork, according to Pete Wells’ latest review. Of the Pig Beach offshoot, the Times critic notes that chef Matt Abdoo — a Del Posto Alum — is instead using pork as a starting point. He writes: “They have pigs in their names for a reason, but one appealing thing about Pig Bleecker is how often it gravitates toward cooking that has nothing to do with barbecued pork.”

Here is Wells on a few favorites dishes:

One recent night, a length of striped bass was half-buried under charred green buds of romanesco broccoli, chopped smoked almonds — not the kind from a can — and spoonfuls of chopped fresh herbs in olive oil. The flavors were clean and strong, the approach direct and Italian. “I could see this at a Batali restaurant,” I wrote in my notes. I didn’t know yet that until about a year ago, the chef, Matt Abdoo, cooked at Mario Batali’s Del Posto.

Pig Bleecker also has broiled oysters, meaty ones that slosh around in their shells with chile oil and melted garlic butter under a cap of flaky brown bread crumbs. Carbone, down the street, serves three styles of baked clams side by side, and I don’t think any of them outdoes these oysters.

As an added bonus, Wells reminds us of that time he reviewed Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar when referring to the fried squid at Pig Bleecker:

But I did see, and eat, fried squid tossed with pickled banana peppers. The last time I encountered it on a menu was at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square. I generally try not to think about what they did to it there, but I couldn’t help recalling it at Pig Bleecker, which gets closer to the taste of the original with fish cheeks than Guy’s did with actual squid.

In fact, a lot of Mr. Abdoo’s menu successfully does what Guy’s claims and fails to do. It rounds up unfancy American dishes whose natural habitat is small taverns and bars and shacks on the state road just outside town. Utica greens, spicy chopped escarole baked under bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano, are terrific at Pig Bleecker.

Overall, Wells appreciates a the smoke theme at Pig Bleecker, especially when used on a grilled pork chop. “Served with battered onions and a peach glaze that’s spicy, tart and sweet, it’s one of the strongest main courses on the dinner menu.” One star.

Pig Bleecker

155 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

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