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BruniBetting: Fiamma

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Tomorrow, Frank Bruni reviews Fiamma, Steve Hanson's overhauled Italian restaurant in Soho, now with chef Fabio Trabocchi at the stoves. Today, the Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows:

Zero Stars: 8-1
One Star: 5-1
Two Stars: 3-1 ??
Three Stars: 4-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1
Two bits to begin with. First, there is no question that Hanson and, even more so, Trabocchi are in search of a three star verdict. It helps both men and the restaurant in myriad ways, most notably in that a tres gives them license to keep the price and service points where they are (high; quite choreographed). It also gives them license to clone the restaurant in other cities. Second, this is by far the closest call we've had to make in some time. X-factors here include Fiamma's previous three star review; the Bruni's love of Italian food; the fact that Steven Hanson generally gets what he wants; Jennifer Baum's involvement, behind the curtain, as the restaurant is a client of Bullfrog and Baum.

With that said, let's see if we can't sort this out. Platt's deuce, combined with Bruni's love of the Italians and Fiamma's three star benchmark pretty much set two Franktastic stars as the lower bound. One is not impossible, but it's pretty close to throwing away your money to bet down there. On the upside, this place is either fussy or quite proper depending on how much you like haute service, and as such it's going to be very tough for Bruni to file this one under three stars (he rarely rewards haute efforts). So that leaves us with a deuce, where we've got our cashola. This is close call between two and three, to be sure, but we don't see it going the way of the Alto upgrade. Bet as you wish.
· Fiamma [NYT; after 8:00 PM]

?? denotes the Eater bet.

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