A Date Night Worth Every Penny!

“Let’s see … $76.22 … $76.23 … $76.24!”

For the last 9 months, Peter and I have been saving our change in a coin jar, with the understanding that once it was filled, we would have a free date night. Well that night finally came, and we had over $75 to put towards it!

When you work towards something for that long … the end result needs to live up to all the anticipation. So we made sure to do our research when picking a restaurant.

After scouring over reviews from Immaculate Infatuation, The New York Times, New York Mag, and Zagat, we decided on Perla, a rustic Italian restaurant nestled on a lightly travelled side street in the West Village.

For 9 pm on a Monday night, this hidden gem was bustling with restaurant-goers, all dining on close knit tables.

I instantly had a good feeling about the place…but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why…

As per usual, Peter and I had a difficult time narrowing down our options. Everything on the menu sounded delicious. We finally decided on two antipastis and two primis to share.

Burrata with local tomatoes, avocado & watermelon. A very light and refreshing summer starter. The saltiness of the cheese provided an interesting contrast to the sweeter bites of watermelon.

Octopus with oven dried tomatoes, eggplant & fett’unta. Octopus has been our go-to restaurant differentiator as of late, and Perla’s really held its own amongst the competition. The octopus was perfectly cooked, and laid on a bed of roasted tomatoes, pickled eggplant, and garlic-soaked bread.

Agnolotti with beef cheek & brown beech mushroom butter. I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this one. It might be one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. This agnolotti, a smaller ravioli-like pasta, was stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth braised beef cheek and tossed in a salty mushroom and brown butter sauce.

Pappardelle with duck ragu & foie gras. Another outstanding selection on our part. Perfectly al dente papparedelle noodles in a ragu of tender duck. As if that wasn’t good enough, our waitress grated in-house prepared foie gras over the top.

The food, as you could only expect after those descriptions, was absurdly good. We practically licked every plate clean….

Perla instantly lept to the top of our New York restaurant list, in good company with restaurants like L’Artusi & Il Buco.

But to me, it was more than just the excellent food that set this restaurant apart…Perla’s staff was super friendly and helpful, and the ambiance was just so welcoming. It had a warm…almost homey feel! I kinda forgot I was in New York for a second….

It was only after the fact, as I sat here researching for this blog post, that it all clicked for me.

Perla is part of a group of restaurants called “Little Wisco”, owned and operated by Gabriel Stulman, a Wisconsin native. According to the New York Times, “each [restaurant] is staffed with scruffy young expatriates from the Badger state”.

It’s no wonder I left with such a warm and fuzzy feeling about Perla. It was a little slice of home in this big city!

There are five other restaurants associated with the Little Wisco group, so it looks like we have the next five locations for our date night all figured out!

Gotta get back to saving…

“$0.01 … $0.02 … $0.03 …”


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