Located in the emerging neighborhood of Hudson Square, the Hugo Hotel's Il Principe is a welcome outpost of fashionable dining in an area with major landmarks like a UPS warehouse and the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. Combining a high-gloss modern aesthetic with raw semi-industrial materials and undulating design elements that evoke the swell of the nearby Hudson River, the restaurant takes inspiration from its surroundings to create an atmosphere that is vibrant yet relaxing.
The indulgent comfort cuisine offered is similarly refined while staying firmly rooted in Italian tradition. Starters include the Calamari Fritti ($14), prepared with an ultra-crunchy and craggy crust that is perfect for scooping marinara or the sweet chili sauce that Manila-born chef Kristine Mana-ay pairs with her rendition. A simple salad of tomatoes and burrata ($14) is awakened by the addition of an avocado mousse with a silkiness and citric bite that’s both an indulgent complement and sharp contrast to the rivulets of fresh cream bursting out of the cheese.
Mains are a little more straightforward but a little less even. The velvety drape of tomato sauce that accompanies the Rigatoni al Pomodoro ($16) is outstanding, with bursts of fresh cherry tomato punctuating the dish. If only the pasta were just on the other side of al dente. The spaghetti ($21) features ample portions of lobster that are downright lavish given the modest price, but the bisque that sauces the dish could use just a dash of chili or a hint of wine.
Though the spot opened just over a year ago, it’s still finding its footing. But there's no mistaking its generous sensibilities and comfortable atmosphere, making it an enticing destination for the neighborhood that is growing alongside it.
BY: TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER OMAR TUNGEKAR