Location is Everything

Chris Cipollone blossoms at the West Village's Piora

It's amazing what a difference 50 or so blocks can make.

Chef Chris Cipollone was last seen serving appealing food in a definitively unappealing space–the Midtown hotel setting of Tenpenny. But all of that has changed since he moved downtown to open Piora (which fittingly means "blossom" in Korean) in the West Village.

Chris Cipollone | The restaurant's service "cheat sheet"

New digs on Hudson Street, a little downtown energy and a new partner, Simon Kim, have done Cipollone–and his food–a world of good. Here, he's cooking an American menu shot through with influences from Italy, France and Korea.

It's been a long time coming: Cippollone says that his dream "has always been to have a quintessential West Village restaurant."

With just six burners to work off of in the kitchen, quips Cipollone, "We're a tight-knit family down here." Quintessential West Village, for sure.

Start your meal with a cast iron pan overflowing with pull-apart monkey bread ($6). Blisteringly hot to the touch and covered in craggy sea salt, this bread blows any free breadbasket in town out of the water.

Monkey bread | Manager Kyle samples some wine before service

It comes accompanied by both a lardo whomped with rosemary, garlic and red wine vinegar and butter that's been whipped with laver, a type of seaweed. Of the two, the lardo actually seems tame in response to the butter's total umami smackdown.

Best to try to restrain yourself from eating all six pieces of bread before the other dishes start to arrive.

Barbecued octopus with fermented pepper

You'll need at least one piece to sop up each of the delicious dregs of the barbecued octopus with fermented pepper ($16); the poached egg with nuggets of deboned chicken wing confit and a puréed and aerated potato ($12); and the strands of black garlic bucatini ($26) loaded with Dungeness crab and Fresno chiles.

Now that we think of it, better order a second round of bread.