The chef behind some of New York’s most packed and popular pizzerias unleashes yet another new restaurant this week, this time betting that New Yorkers will dig Rhode Island-style pie. Matt Hyland, of Emmy Squared and Emily, pivots to grilled pizza and seafood in his new restaurant Violet, opening in the East Village this Thursday.
It’s a style of pizza not present in his other restaurants, which are largely credited with popularizing Detroit-style pies in New York. At Violet, located at 511 E. Fifth St., between Avenues A and B, a gas and charcoal hybrid grill will push out pies with nontraditional pizza toppings like broccoli and pistachio pesto, or duck prosciutto. The menu will indeed have quintessential pies like a margherita, but here fontina cheese will be placed on the dough first, followed by scoops of tomato sauce on top.
He’s pulling inspiration from one of his favorite Rhode Island restaurants Al Forno, known as the birthplace of grilled pizza. The style is a rare find even in pizza-packed New York, though a grilled margherita is offered at Fresco by Scotto and a grilled white clam pie at the Clam.
But Matt and his wife Emily have previous experience with bringing less ubiquitous pies to NYC’s pizza scene. They built a solid following for Detroit-style pies via Emmy Squared, which opened its third location in the East Village last year. He and Emily are now separated, but she remains a partner at their original restaurant Emily in Clinton Hill and has created the wine list for Violet, which focuses on coastal, European wines.
Beyond the pizza cred, Violet will also be a platform to experiment with another genre of food not seen at his other venues: seafood. He’ll spend just as much time making plated dishes as he will grilling pizzas. Expect clams stuffed with linguica, pretzel stuffing, and uni, or a “fish slab,” where cured mackerel, smoked trout, and brandade are served alongside pickles and potato chips. Elsewhere, a grilled shrimp dish comes with spicy butter and cilantro.
Pastas will then round out the menu; see it in full below, where everything except the fish slab is expected to fall under $20. Though Hyland is known primarily for pies, he wants the ideal dinner at Violet to include a dish from each section, he says.
The restaurant, though casual, will also have an element of similar to a tasting menu restaurant: Diners who reserve the four bar seats nearest the kitchen will be treated to free tastings throughout the night, he says.
“It’s kind of a restaurant that has a lot of food that I don’t get to cook at my other restaurants,” he says. “The menu is going to be very personal to me.”
For now, Violet, which seats 55 in a warm room, will be open for dinner only starting Thursday, Jan. 10, from 5:30 to 11 p.m. It’ll stay open later on Fridays and Saturdays, and will close on Tuesdays. Brunch will be added later, and there’s potential for weekday lunch service, too.