Today the Bruni awards three stars to Convivio, the make-over of Tudor City's L'Impero. Not only is the food better; the new direction of the restaurant—"a shift away from any of the regal airs of L'Impero"— caters to the more casual dining scene of today and to the financial worries of the future:
"But neither the moment nor the market has anything to do with the most important adjustment behind Convivio, which is this: The ratio of can’t-miss to not-quite dishes is more favorable than it was shortly after the chef Michael White took charge of the kitchen at L’Impero...
Its noodles — all house-made — have a more substantial texture and taste than those at most other Italian restaurants, except when they’re not meant to...The restaurant’s sauces are alternately classic and inventive, blunt and nuanced, gut-busting and gut-tickling. Mr. White can do it all."And, of course, Franktastic doesn't miss his chance to harp on the acoustics: "Convivio is much louder than L’Impero was, but several maddeningly soft-speaking servers apparently haven’t figured that out. Mr. White and Chris Cannon, the principal owners, should get them vocal lessons, or hire carnival barkers in their stead." [NYT]
Sietsema goes on a quest for muffuletta at Dive Bar, Delta Grill, and Bourbon Street. And dirty old man that he is, he has a little fun with his diction: "Hands trembling in expectation, I went down on the Dive Bar muff...Dive Bar's rendition ($10) was truly magnifíque, and a righteously oily olive salad provided ample lube." [VV]
Alan Richman investigates Todd English's new project The Libertine. He's spooked by the decor but enjoys the food (at least while English is actually on the premises): "English is known by now as a purveyor of every plausible style of food in every possible manifestation of the restaurant concept. That has occurred for a good reason: The man is a near-genius at the stove, able to make any pile of unlikely ingredients taste good." [GQ]
Jay Cheshes decides Alegretti offers the traditional regional French cooking New York so sorely needs and awards it four of six stars: "Though the room probably won’t transport you to the French Riviera, the chef’s food certainly will...While the cooking here won’t win awards for ingenuity, the chef’s technique and presentation are flawless." [TONY]
The RG visits Hell's Kitchen's new South African spot Braai. In the end it isn't the exotic barbecue buffet she was hoping for, earning two stars: "If you order meat, insist on medium rare. No more. Otherwise, it will taste like beef jerky, or the game version called biltong in South Africa...It's not easy to pull off Afrikaans barbecue in Hell's Kitchen. Clearly, they're adapting a South African tradition for American tastes - and American meats." [NYDN]
THE ELSEWHERE: This week Matt Gross files the $25 and Under, which is increasingly becoming a section for round ups, and reviews Pinche Taqueria, Toloache, and Mercadito Cantina, Ryan Sutton expenses a few hundred dollars worth of pricey but delicious drinks at Apotheke, Sarah DiGregorio is a fan of the EVill's Apiary, Moira Hodgson checks in on Alegretti, and Tables for Two mostly enjoys 9th Avenue's Nizza.
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine give a B to Sara Jenkins' new Porchetta, Eat it Brooklyn has one of the first reviews on Char No. 4, The Pink Pig is at Cafe Boulud, NYC Nosh has a messy "Three Dwarves" burger at Five Napkin Burger, Gotham Gal enjoys I Sodi, Goodies First finds average service, food at Five Leaves, and Cleaned My Plate checks in on West Houston's Jane.