Pietro Nolita Is Not-So-Pretty in Pink

Eat with your eyes, and only your eyes.


The exterior of Pietro Nolita reflects its pink interior. (via Flickr)

Divya Nelakonda, Staff Writer

If you’re anything like me, preparing to come to New York City included spending countless hours on Instagram immersed in photos of all the unique shops and restaurants surrounding NYU and the West Village. Pietro Nolita, an all-pink Italian eatery on Elizabeth Street between Kenmare and Spring Streets, caught my eye time and time again. Girls in pink outfits seated on the pink bench outside the restaurant or posing in front of a wall of pink graffiti hearts flooded my screen when I searched the restaurant’s location tag. But rarely did I find a picture of the food itself. Were people even eating there?

Opening nearly three years ago in September 2016, Pietro Nolita is a 1,000-square-foot, ‘50s-style diner-inspired, “healthy Italian” restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant tries to take on too much, consequently not excelling at anything in particular. Pietro Nolita is simply frequented by young women with fashion interests wanting to dine in a chic, Instagrammable spot. 

Besides serving as a token for Instagram photos, the restaurant does not offer much else to the Italian scene in New York City. I ordered the Spaghetti Al Pomodoro ($17), sticking with a classic in order to easily compare it to other Italian restaurants. 

Almost immediately after I ordered, I realized that I forgot to request the whole wheat pasta substitute, which the server very graciously offered to switch for me. However, because my pasta was already cooking, the change in order couldn’t actually be accommodated. While I do not advocate for food waste and did not want to take up more of the chef’s time, it was disappointing considering there was only one other group in the restaurant.

One thing that struck me about the food before I dug in was the small portion size. While I acknowledge their approach to Italian food as light and healthy, this felt like a cop-out. It’s not that I necessarily want a pound of pasta, but I at least want to feel full after finishing a meal. Plus, leftovers. It would have been more interesting to see them use alternative ingredients, such as beet-based pasta sauce to tie in both the pink theme and healthy angle.

With what pasta they did give me, the sauce lacked flavor and was too oily. Considering the tiny portion and lack of flavor, this dish was definitely not worth the price.

Speaking of tiny, it should be kept in mind that the restaurant itself is rather small, which is not so ideal if you plan on coming with a larger group or to take pictures, although that seems to be the primary selling point of Pietro Nolita. 

In addition to needing more space, I expected — dare I say it? — more pink. Yes, the walls and a lot of the decor was pink, but I would have appreciated a deeper commitment right down to pink tables and floors instead of wooden ones. After being promised a Pepto-Bismol hellscape, I expected to eat pink food and drink a strawberry-based beverage, but Pietro Nolita dropped the ball on that as well.

But I’ll admit, the “Pink as F-ck” napkins and store merchandise made me chuckle.

As a forewarning, you should also know that Pietro Nolita only accepts cash or American Express — the two most inconvenient forms of payment. If you’re someone like me who only carries a debit card everywhere you go, you’ll definitely need to use the ATM in the back.

Pietro Nolita is definitely hard to miss with its pink waiting benches, walls and decor on an otherwise quiet street. If you are for some reason wearing an all-pink ensemble and need the perfect place to document it, then Pietro Nolita is the place for you. However, if you are in search of good Italian cuisine, there are plenty of better places in the city, many of which have more feasible price points. 

Email Divya Nelakonda at [email protected]