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Week in Reviews: A Voce, A Voce, Dirty Bird to Go

[Kalina, 3/19/06]

1) Bruni takes our 15-1 odds, delivers three stars to Andrew Carmellini's A Voce. The highlight is, indisputably, the food. Spaghetti with ramps and speck. Agnolotti. Rigatoni. Ricotta. And the meatballs. Bruni loves the meatballs.

For his inevitable next venture, maybe Mr. Carmellini, now 35, should consider an all-meatball restaurant. I wouldn't put it past him. And I wouldn't want to miss it.
Lowlights include the decor, which Bruni thinks has "traveled a bit too far in the other direction" from a thankfully missed (though more obvious) "rustic schtick," and the pricing, which our man Frank just can't seem to wrap his (usually spot-on) head around.
The selection of entrees — or more precisely, their prices — contained a few puzzling surprises. I'd argue that a restaurant serving chicken cacciatore for $23 and putting it in one of those clay bowls shouldn't be doing a $110 rack of veal for two. On the menu I saw a figure of $55, didn't examine it closely and, until the bill arrived, didn't realize it was per person. All in all, the pricing of dishes — some strikingly reasonable, some much less so — didn't add up.
Very un-waspy, but he's got a point. Overall, though, it's a go. [NYT]

2) The Hodg also takes on A Voce, gives it only two stars. Agrees with Bruni that the food is often sublime, though doesn't seem to love it as almost unconditionally as Frank was. Some are too bland, some too boring. The spaghetti with ramps makes another appearance, making it now—we'd argue—the hot dish of the month. The food aside, The Hodg isn't going back until she can "eat outside under the lemon trees, and have a conversation sotto voce," given that inside is so noisy "a Charlton Heston voice is required here," and so brightly lit—until 10pm, when the lights are turned down—you need sunglasses at night. [Observer]

After the jump, Dirty Bird to Go and on getting drunk in Astoria.

3) The Underground Gourmet Rob(ins) check out the fried chicken craze via an uptown-downtown double review of Rack & Soul and the much-vaunted Dirty Bird to Go. In a virtually unprecedented move, the two, usually so monocritical, distinguish between themselves and have different takes on Dirty Bird's chicken (one finds it "delicious," the other "couldn't see past the thick clumps of bland batter.") Rack & Soul, on the other hand, gets a unilateral licked-thumbs up, for the chicken, waffles, and everything from glazed ribs to "textbook" sides. [New York]

4) Tables for Two's Nick Paumgarten gets—we're assuming—on the subway, ponders the history of beer gardens (beer needed cool, trees make cool, trees are nice, and scene), and ends up at Astoria's Bohemian Beer Garden. Lots of beer, first-rate kielbasa, and fried cheese for the uber-involved. Drunkenness for the uber-partiers, silly t-shirts ("The liver is evil. It must be punished.") for the uber-attention-getting. Oh ja. [New Yorker]

Elsewhere, NYCNosh finds Bouley, Upstairs "small but perfectly formed"; Twenty Bucks a Day offers an alternative awesome burger to the Shake Shack/Corner Bistro duopoly at Donovan's Pub; The Cuozz complains about Second Avenue's Restaurant Row's (between 74th and 75th) imminent destruction in the face of big development; Bruni finds Quality Meats quite quality; and 1000 Bars visits the new downtown Harry's.