Almost two years after the opening in Naples of Osteria Tulia – an Italian farmhouse-style restaurant on Fifth Avenue that received immediate critical and popular acclaim – Chef Vincenzo Betulia expanded next door, with the opening of Bar Tulia and its own kitchen.
Betulia continues to challenge the palate with fearless new ingredients and combinations in a warm, brick-and-wood bar gastropub setting that reflects the original osteria’s rustic appeal. The menu, however, reads more like the marriage of a tapas and pizza menu.
A convivial atmosphere at Bar Tulia — Photo courtesy of Michael Caronchi / Bar Tulia
Sfizi – "snacks," in Italian – are perfect for munching with the bartenders’ house-crafted and classic cocktails, craft beers and select wines. House fries and anchovy mayonnaise pair well with The Final Voyage rum drink with maple syrup and house-mulled spice bitters.
Among the three salad offerings, you'll find cauliflower with currants and Marcona almonds. The list of Crudo items include local hogfish ceviche, and scallops with grapefruit and pink peppercorn.
No typical pizza menu, this one lists the Modena with pancetta, house ricotta, Brussels sprouts and garlic chips. Fried Rabbit Wings in the Piattini department is Bar Tulia’s take on chicken wings: crispy fried rabbit legs to dip in a gorgonzola sauce. Slim coins of sweet anisette-flavored pickled radishes garnish.
Other small plate options include grilled house-made sausage with stewed white beans, garlic and rosemary, as well as charred shishito peppers with grated foie gras.
Bar Tulia is next-door neighbors with Osteria Tulia, but it has its own kitchen — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Hardier, entrée-sized fare falls under the headings In Piu and Pasta. Most unusual (and delicious), the grilled beef tongue is slow braised to fall-apart tenderness before its finish on the grill. A bed of Beluga lentils with salsa verde effectively creates a nutritious gravy for the typical Italian peasant dish. The “BT Burger” is actually braised short ribs and brisket with burrata cheese and onions.
The Roman Ramen promises to become a signature dish that elevates the old college staple to gourmet. The kinky homemade noodles make the bed for tender pork shoulder, spicy salami, shrimp and carrots topped with a crisply fried egg sunny side up. Wonderful clam-kombu broth upgrades that little packet that comes inside ramen packages.
Other homemade pasta selections are available in small plate and entrée sizes and include gnocchi with braised rabbit and porcini; sepia spaghetti with local clams, smoked butter, crispy guanciale and leeks; rigatoni Bolognese; and torchio with sausage, sweet peas, roasted peppers and mascarpone.
The desserts change regularly and reflect sweet brilliance, such as sweetened and fried ricotta balls with salted raspberry compote. Like a deep-fried cloud, the cheese simply dissolves into sighs of utter satisfaction on the tongue.