“It is only through labor and painful effort … that we move on to better things,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. Perhaps that was chef Chris Cipollone’s mantra as he manipulated an old duck dish into a modern miracle for the palate at the recently opened West Village restaurant, Piora.
If you thought it was impossible to improve upon a basic duck confit, take one bite of Cipollone’s version ($14) with earl grey, plum and cucumber. The method behind his marvel is certainly arduous: first, the duck is cured and then cooked in duck fat. The legs are skinned, and the meat pulled. The skin is roasted separately until it is rendered into a crumble. The shredded meat, meanwhile, is blended with duck jus and rolled into a torchon. It is chilled, sliced, breaded and then fried, before served as a crispy round with an earl grey tea-infused prune puree and fresh plum. Celery, cucumber, shiso leaves, and the crumble finish the plate. The sensation: a crunchy crust leads into soft meat, with the bitter fruitiness of the tea sauce balancing the salt, while the herbaceous leaves bring the dish down to earth. The chef gets an A not only for effort, but for flavor and texture, too.
Cipollone came from Midtown’s Tenpenny when Piora opened in late July. He promises that the menu will be oft-changing at his new spot, and we’ll be waiting to see what else he’ll be working at this winter.
430 Hudson St.