Palà, an inventive pizza restaurant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, makes drinks as ambitious as its pies.
The $11 Bufala Negra caught my eye immediately: Maker’s Mark bourbon, 25-year-old balsamic vinegar, basil and ginger ale.
It has all of the richness of a great balsamic vinegar, but with none of the sourness. Somehow, the combination of ingredients just works. It’s a dark and heavy drink—certainly not for everyone—but it’s remarkably refreshing in hot weather. And you can taste nearly every ingredient except for, strangely, the bourbon and the vinegar.
This excellent cocktail brings two issues to mind: first, I’m excited about all of the bars and restaurants that have managed to break free from the tyranny of the fruity martini variation. (The first step out of the martini comfort zone seems to be a boring mojito variation.)
Second, I’m impressed that a pizza place, even a very good one, would have such a great drink list. This isn’t an easy feat even for bars. And just because your drink list sounds good doesn’t mean it will taste good.
I also tried the $10 Blueberry Lavender Mojito, but without the lavender simple syrup (the bar was out of it), the drink was just another good but not great fruity mojito.
Palà, on Allen Street just off Houston, opened in 2006. Service can be hit or miss, and pizzas are expensive at an average of $18 for one person, but they’re delicious (try the porri e salsiccia pizza with pork sausage, leeks, sundried tomatoes and pink peppercorns).