Inside Il Principe, a bastion of greenery and fine food on Soho’s outskirts

Il Principe NYC

In the stark, commercial landscape of Hudson Square, the living plant wall in the back of Il Principe at Hotel Hugo provides a welcome reminder that life and greenery can thrive in the harshest of environments.

Marcello Pozzi
Marcello Pozzi

Designed by the Italian architect, Marcello Pozzi, Il Principe offers a cozy setting for trendy people. Pozzi describes the restaurant’s interior on his website a bit more colorfully:

“The sexy curve of the glossy walnut walls remind you of a canyon like space which the hotel lobby is like an hidden jewel box to discover at the end of an elegant entry corridor characterized by an inset blue Brasilian marble ‘cut-walk'” [sic].

The Pilipino chef Kristine Mana-ay, who previously worked at celebrity hotspot, the Lion Restaurant, continues this theme with her menu, offering up $22 hamburgers with caramelized onions and $14 calamari fritti with smoked tomato aioli. It’s food you can reach for when you want to be perked up, but also when you want to see and be seen.

LLNYC took a lap around the restaurant at lunchtime to see what it’s all about.

You walk into Il Principe through a separate door to the right of the Hotel Hugo’s lobby entrance. 


Inside you are greeted by a spacious lounge-style room filled with low furniture with a contemporary design. There is a large bar on the near wall. 


It’s an L-shaped dining room that narrows into a long table lined hallway. 


The hall ends in a special private dining area, encased in glass and lit by a large skylight. The back wall is made of bright, living greenery. 


We started our meal with Riesling and and a selection of Italian breads. The restaurant provides three small dishes of olive oil, salt and red pepper. Do with them what you will. 


We got the ball rolling with eggplant parmigiana and fried calamari. Both came with rather good sauces. 


At this point, more wine was in order.  We switched to Pinot Grigio.


For our mains, we tried lunchtime staples: grilled branzino and the burger.


The branzino was was perfectly cook and served on a bed of green beans. 


The burger was fairly simple, served with mixed greens, asiago cheese and saluted onions. Even once we were full, it was hard to stop eating the fries — but isn’t that always true? 


However, dessert was definitely the stand out course. We split the poached pear, topped with an especially creamy ice cream. Knock out.