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BruniBetting: L'Impero and Alto

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Tomorrow, Frank Bruni will have his way with Michael White, as he reviews both Alto and L'Impero, the two Italian restaurants he's taken over from Scott Conant. Today, the Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows:

Zero Stars: 8-1
One Star: 5-1
Two Stars: 2-1 ??
Three Stars: 4-1
Four Stars: 10,000-1

Zero Stars: 9-1
One Star: 5-1
Two Stars: 4-1
Three Stars: 3-1 ??
Four Stars: 8,000-1

There are a lot of moving parts to the betting situation this week, so let's just dig right in, shall we? First of all, L'Impero currently holds a fairly whopping three stars, awarded by Eric Asimov, and Alto a pathetic deuce, the result of one of the Bruni's earliest serious takedowns. The color here, as the group may recall, is that a young Scott Conant stunned everyone at L'Impero with the three-bagger, then was given, and took, way too much license at Alto. He cooked the place into the ground with his haute Alsacian take on Italian food. Now, with chef Michael White newly installed to run both kitchens, Alto having fended off an outright shuttering, the cycle starts anew.

Before we get to the end, there is one other factor to consider here. These restaurants are represented by Baltz Co., a PR firm that could list among its specialties an uncanny ability to coach their clients to a two-star level. Their three star clients are few and far between, but holy hell can these guys roll a deuce, which is to say that betting below two on either restaurant is a fool's errand.

When all is said and done, we believe White is a capable chef and he's going to be able to come up with a three-star performance at one of these two venues. But we're going to go with the scenario that flips the odd star: two stars at L'Impero and three at Alto. This does mean that L'Impero is getting a downgrade, but one could argue either the restaurant never deserved the third star in the first place or that the story tomorrow will be that the mini-empire's owners have finally righted what was previously the wrong distribution of stars. In any case, this is going to be a good show. Bet as you see fit.
· L'Impero and Alto [NYT; after 8:00 PM]

?? denotes the Eater bet.