Open less than two weeks now, Pulino’s is the hot table right now in New York City, drawing huge crowds, good reviews, and a celebrity following of loyal McNally supporters such as Jude Law, Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren. Like the other McNally restaurants before it – Balthazar, Pastis, Pravda and Schiller’s Liquor Bar – Pulino’s serves up great food in a soaring industrial space that gets its signature good looks from a design triumvirate who have fashioned it after a French brasserie with a generous dose of old-world Tuscan charm rolled in.
As with all his restaurants, McNally comes up with the concept and leaves it up to architect Richard Lewis and Ian McPheely and Christian Garnett of Grayling Design to carry out his vision. McNally and Lewis developed the restaurant’s general layout while Grayling was responsible for its overall look and feel.
For Pulino’s, “McNally’s source of inspiration was a liquor store. “He likes the way they look,” McPheely said. The liquor store is a recurring source of inspiration for McNally, as evidenced at Schiller’s, McNally’s Lower East Side bistro, where liquor bottles lining the walls are a major element of restaurant’s décor. To this idea, Lewis and Grayling brought a number of signature elements found in McNally’s other eateries such as white subway tiles, chicken wire, antique mirrors and tin ceilings. While some say McNally’s penchant for ‘sampling’ has led to his restaurants being ‘formulaic,’ others contend he ‘cobbles these elements together in a way that elevates them to an art form.’Regardless, it’s hard to argue with McNally’s method. He has owned and operated 11 restaurants. “Keith is a genius,” said McPheely. And he is a man who knows what New Yorkers want from their eateries.