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Week in Reviews: No Goose Egg for E.U., Morandi Beaten with a Shovel Again

1) First up, we've got Frank Bruni at Jason Hennings and Bob Giraldi's E.U.. In a somewhat amazing twist, after all it has been through, the restaurant gets one actual star and kudos for a good execution of a neighborhood joint. The tidy, Brunied-up recap:

As a watering hole, the E.U. actually feels charmed, though I articulate that with my fingers crossed (a tough trick when you’re typing), and in spite of my parting glance at the restaurant around midnight one busy, noisy night. I walked out as three grim-faced police officers walked in.

Uh-oh.

Note also there is a legitimate chance E.U. will get one more star than will Morandi. Stay tuned. [NYT]

2) Speaking of which, next up Alan Richman mostly steam rolls Keith McNally's Morandi, citing the West Village Italian for bad food, crushing crowds, a challenging wine list and bad food:

...I suspected I was embarking on an extraordinary dining experience.

And so I was. Of the next 14 dishes over two visits, 13 were second-rate or worse. Overcooked branzino, insipid spaghetti with clams, burned-edge buckwheat pasta, flabby bass carpaccio, tough fennel, tougher radicchio, inexplicably dry Italian-style ice cream. On it went.

I tried to order from every menu category, hoping to learn if all were unsatisfactory, but there are 17 of them (including desserts) and I couldn't possibly eat enough. The single item I enjoyed, fried stuffed olives, tasted like olive-flavored, breaded meatballs.

Richman does note that the food took a dramatic turn for the best on his last visit -- try the skate -- but he remained hesitant to dole out too much praise overall. Will he be back? "Not after 9 p.m. any time in my life."

Bonus: Paul Adams is also at Morandi this week and, drops the now-classic verdict that Morandi is but one in a sea of Italian restaurants: "So far, Mr. McNally's mock-ups of French bistros have thrived in a downtown niche where the genuine article is hard to find. But New York has no shortage of great regional Italian joints, and the comparison between those and Morandi is easy and unflattering. Much of Morandi's devotion to breadth comes at the expense of depth. The food is fresh, but the experience tastes canned." [Bloomberg; NYS]

3) Peter Meehan, not in a back alley behind a re-purposed Croatian church in Flushing, is in the East Village today at Nomad, a North African setup. There is plenty savory fare to be had, but, then, there's also the cookies. Do you like cookies?

I LIKE cookies. You probably like cookies. Cookies are likable.

But cravable, eye-opening cookies are not an everyday thing. Maybe that’s why, thinking back on my meals at Nomad, a new French-North African restaurant on Second Avenue in the East Village, I’m thinking first about the things I ate last: cookies.

A plate of four cookies and minipastries is $8 and, should you go to Nomad, please consider it required eating.

Also, there are promises of very good savory fare and zero belly dancing, which, along with its East Village locale, does, indeed, bode well. [NYT]

Elsewhere, Randall Lane has a whopping five stars for Anthos, Andrea Strong at the 'great' E.U., NY Press at Black Pearl, Ryan Sutton with the early word on Jeffrey Chodorow's Wild Salmon; Tables, having read Bruni's review and deciding they wanted to expense a meal there as well, at Rosanjin, Nosh at Regate and Off the Broiler on Arthur Avenue for 'secret' pizza at Mario's .

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