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Week in Reviews: One Star for Gemma

1) Frank Bruni starts things off at Gemma (above), which he one-stars. Yeah, it's pretty good, maybe a tad better than Morandi, but whatever:

Gemma has a wood-fired pizza oven, which works best as a design element. The pies I tried, including a classic margherita and a heartier mix of spicy sausage and onions, had floppy, one-dimensional crusts.

But among the pasta dishes and main courses, there was plenty to savor. Soft, light gnocchi met a meaty Bolognese, while the rich, salty sauce of pork sausage, tomatoes and cream over one night’s special of squiggly strozzapreti was superb.

Twice I had the chicken, and twice it was impeccable: crisp skin, tender meat. A grilled rib-eye — juicy on one visit, drier the next — didn’t hold up as well.

But don't be fooled by the good food. End quote: "Gemma isn’t reaching out to epicures,..." [NYT]

2) Moira Hodgson is at Pamplona, the weeks-old overhaul of Urena. She. Likes.

Pamplona’s menu is thrilling. I wanted to try every dish. Ureña may not be whipping up foams and gelees these days, but don’t for a minute think there’s anything dumbed down about his cuisine. There’s paella, but it’s made with braised rabbit; there’s gazpacho, and it’s a silky confection swirled with olive oil and topped with shrimp and Spanish roe. There’s octopus, the staple of every tapas bar; its thick black sauce is laced with smoked lima beans and chistorra (a smoky, spicy sausage).
Other things you'll want to note, she likes the paella. [NYO]

3) Danyelle Freeman, the Restaurant Girl, will round out the biggies this week, with her three star rave of Crave Ceviche Bar in the East 50s. Maybe it's that the place is undiscovered, maybe it's the good ceviche. For what ever the reason, the RG is i-n, in: "Crave Ceviche Bar is one of those rare finds in a part of town better known for its happy hours and expense-account dinners. Candlelight dances about the beachy nook, marked with white paneling, wood floors and exposed brick walls...Crave heralds both a new breed of chef and an exciting genre in what remains relatively uncharted territory." [NYDN]

Elsewhere, the Times Briefs at Sea Salt, Mamajuana Cafe and Noble Food & Wine; the Underground Gourmet three stars Hecho en Dumbo in Dumbo; Paul Adams at Sea Salt; Paul Lukas at BarFry; Randall Lane spends $250 on Per Se's veggie menu, five-of-sixes it; and Tables for Two at Borough Food and Drink. Plus, Ryan Sutton on Tailor is as follows: "This is molecular gastronomy for everyone." And, Robert Sietsema in Jackson Heights, his home field, basically, at Deshi.

On the blogs, the Bruni circles back to BLT Fish and doesn't hate it; Fork NY not feeling the new UWS branch of Fig and Olive; and Nosh at Picknick, which is 'no picnick'.