East Village restaurant Violet does a good job at representing the grilled pizza of Rhode Island — although some pies may be a little too similar to the ones found at Al Forno, the restaurant from which chef Matt Hyland (Emily, Emmy Squared) pulls inspiration, Times critic Pete Wells writes in his latest review.
A Rhode Island native himself, Wells doles out one star for the recently opened restaurant, saying the grilled pies are “as thin as a saltine,” just the way Al Forno serves them. Wells praises the pie that comes with grated havarti and pecorino cheeses, plus garlicky pesto made with broccoli and pistachios. Another, a marriage between a New Haven clam pie with a Peking duck pancake, is an “appealingly eccentric” combination, he writes.
On the dough, he notes:
Olive oil does give Al Forno’s crust extra crackle and flavor, but Violet’s less lavishly oiled dough, made with a sourdough starter, has more flavor of its own. It’s a little salty, crunchy but not brittle, more substantial than you expect, and highly chewable.
Wells says the pastas and desserts, on the other hand, still need some work; the radiatore baked in vodka sauce is “very salty,” and he finds the sweeter options strange, such as a cheesecake with banana pudding. But he ends the review on a high note, calling Violet’s very-Rhode-Island johnnycakes “kind of wonderful.” One star.