My wife and I live about a block away from the restaurant, which is located on the lower level of the Giraffe Hotel and decided to pop in for dinner last week. I'll provide some detail, but in summary, Bread & Tulips is a very solid option for rustic Italian, fitting in nicely with some of the neighborhood's existing Italian heavyweights (Maialino, A Voce, SD26) and in fact surpassing our experiences at some of those places in certain regards.
Setting: The downstairs locale is never a plus in my book...it makes for a cavern-like experience in even the best of rooms. That said, I didn't find the basement location of Bread & Tulips to be too off-putting, as they've executed it about as well as anyone could. Though it is subterranean, it feels like you're eating in a wine cellar, rather than a well decorated surgical theatre or (worse yet) a morgue, which is typically the sense I get from basement restaurants. It's cozy but not cramped, and the noise level wasn't an issue even with a full room on a Friday night.
Service: The service was decent - not great, but fairly efficient and certainly pleasant and accommodating (not that we made any crazy requests, but anyway...). They still have some kinks to work out (keep the water full, don't switch out servers mid-meal), but that's something we expect of a new restaurant. I can only assume that the service will improve as they find their rhythm, but as I said - it's sufficient as it stands presently.
Food: As it should be with any meal, the food was the highlight of our experience. We tried a few apps/small plates to start, including the beet salad (vibrant presentation, with a dressing that complemented the intensity of the beets while not stealing the show from them), the frito misto (standard issue, but tasty and well executed), and the crostini (a highlight - foie was creamy and rich and paired well with the rhubard and crushed pistachio nuts). For our mains, we shared the handmade pasta (which was excellent - pasta was flawless, and the lamb ragu was deep and flavorful with a nice spice to it), the lardo and egg pizza (another highlight - the crust was perfect - airy, chewy and slightly charred, the cracked egg was rich and runny and paired nicely with the lardo which was finely shaved over the top. The greens and peppers toned down the richness of the dish enough that it didn't overwhelm), and the rabbit porchetta (gamey and intensely spiced, but I missed the crackling skin of traditional porchetta). We finished with dessert - cheesecake and a rich chocolate tart of some sort (I can't recall the details of each honestly - I'm not a huge dessert person - but both were perfectly satisfactory and a nice way to end a meal).
Overall, we had a really great experience here and have already recommended it to friends looking for something new in the neighborhood. The food is very good and in some cases outstanding, especially at the restaurant's price point which is very reasonable (pizzas run around $14, for a pie the size of Motorino's if that means anything to you...). Go and give it a shot - you won't be sorry you did, and you may add another resto to your usual rotation if you live in the area.
19 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003
Bread & Tulips
365 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10016