Rubirosa

Rubirosa

By Alan Brown

Let’s face it—old-fashioned Italian food is molto delizioso, but who wants to brave the tourist hordes or risk a red-sauce nightmare in Little Italy? When you’re craving generous portions of baked clams with breadcrumbs, parsley and lemon; pasta e fagioli; hand-rolled manicotti; and chicken Parmigiano like your nonna used to make, get yourself to Rubirosa, a handsome new restaurant that’s bringing Italy back to Mulberry Street—the groovy-boutique-lined Nolita stretch between Spring and Prince, that is. Angelo Pappalardo, reared in the kitchen of his father, Giuseppe’s famous Staten Island restaurant Joe and Pat’s, has deftly balanced buzzworthiness with hometown, well, homeyness. The ceilings here are tin and wood-beamed, and the good-looking waitstaff are fast on their feet. Large families with rambunctious children come early for pizza but then make way for young couples, who sip Italian wine (the list is small but solid) and argue about the latest indie film they’ve just caught at the nearby Angelica. The pizza, by the way, is the same impossibly thin and crisp-crusted marvel that has drawn aficionados over the water from Manhattan to Staten Island for decades.

sweet seats

The three rooms in this narrow and deep space (think railroad apartment) each have distinct personalities. The front bar room is where the action is, but it’s mostly stool-sitting. The cozy back room, with the pizza oven, is the best pick for a romantic date. The middle room, where the waiter and busboy stations are located, is mostly for groups and families with children.

chew on this

The restaurant’s name is inspired by the indulgent lifestyle of international playboy Porfirio Rubirosa. Manager Bari Musacchio says Rubirosa was a model of the sort of good times they want people to have at their restaurant, and much of the style and decor of the place date to his time, which was also the heyday of Little Italy. “ We would like to bring back a little bit of the spark that might have been lost.”

hours

Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 AM–11 PM; Fri.–Sat. 11:30 AM–12 midnight

price range

$12 (spaghetti alla chitarra) to $24 (veal scallopine)
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