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Remembering Ninja: Exactly How Close Did Morandi Get to the Goose-Egg?

Ninja 9/9/05: What a good time that all was.

Twenty-four hours later, there's a general consensus that the Bruni absolutely brutalized Morandi yesterday. And the comment from more than one staffer in the house last night, "we knew it was coming." But on the massacre scale, there is Bruni's take-down of Ninja (aka The Review Heard 'Round the World) and there are all other blood baths. Shall we, then, take a look at just how close Mornadi came to getting the Ninja treatment. It turns out the Bruni was temped.

Ninja: Confusing the point of a restaurant with the mission of a "Saturday Night Live" skit, Ninja New York deposits you in a kooky, dreary subterranean labyrinth that seems better suited to coal mining than to supping.

Morandi: The restaurant strikes an odd tone, starting with the recorded voice on the phone line, as broadly accented as that of Father Guido Sarducci on an old episode of “Saturday Night Live,” and extending to row upon row of straw-bottomed Chianti bottles lining the walls. Is this tribute or burlesque?

Ninja: Ninja acts like a Disney ride - Space Mountain under a hailstorm of run-of-the-mill or unappealing sushi - but charges like Le Bernardin.

Morandi: A catchy approach? Sure. But a gimmicky one, too, reflecting this restaurant’s treatment of Italy as theme park — as what the British writer John Mortimer once called Chiantishire.

Ninja: Ninja intends to evoke a Japanese mountain village inhabited by ninjas, a special breed of stealthy warriors. In this case they come armed not only with swords and sorcery but also with recipes, which may be their most dangerous weapons of all.

Morandi: But while Balthazar’s evocation of a brasserie bespoke an adoration of France, Morandi’s incarnation of a trattoria suggests something more like amusement with Italy.

· Ninja: Yelping Warriors, and Rocks in the Broth [NYT]
· Morandi: Must Be Italy, There’s Straw on the Bottles [NYT]


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