If you were as surprised as we were when rising-star San Francisco chef Nate Appleman turned down a chance to work with Drew Nieporent in order to help open a pizzeria (albeit Keith McNally’s pizzeria), and wondered how long it would last, well here’s your answer: After a little over a year, Appleman has left Pulino’s owing to a “mutual split,” or so the chef tells Eater. Of course, you probably could’ve guessed he was gone when those triangular slices started showing up. And the truth is, something about this feels like déjà vu all over again.
Back in 2006, McNally, who till then had mostly worked with his corporate chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, tapped a more recognizable chef, Jody Williams, to open Morandi (“having Keith McNally make you an offer,” wrote Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, “is the restaurant-world equivalent of having Tony Bennett ask you to sing a duet”). After Frank Bruni gave the restaurant an unenthusiastic one-star review, McNally accused Bruni of being biased against female chefs (Bruni later called McNally a “horrible man”). But a year later, Williams was gone from Morandi and replaced by August chef Tony Liu.
Jump-cut to August of 2009: McNally teams with Appleman only to receive a lukewarm one-star from Adam Platt. McNally lumps Platt in with “bald, over-weight reviewers,” penning a letter that accuses him of being “out of touch describing young downtown New Yorkers.” See where this is going? You guessed it: The new chef at Pulino’s, according to Sam Sifton, will be none other than Tony Liu.
Such is the circle of restaurant life …