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Week in Reviews: Ago Gets the Goose Egg

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It's been awhile since Frankie Two-Stars has taken down a restaurant, awarding it the big old goose egg. And it's been almost three years since he's actually rated said restaurant as "Poor" instead of the usual "Satisfactory" (see Ninja). But today the Brunz gives the bloodthirsty mobs what they want: a through and through take down of the mecca for bad food and even worse service, Ago:

"This restaurant isn’t in the hospitality business. It’s in the attitude business, projecting an aloofness that permeated all of my meals there, nights of wine and poses for swingers on the make, cougars on the prowl and anyone else who values a sort of facile fabulousness over competent service or a breaded veal Milanese with any discernible meat.

The one I had one night was pounded so thin that the breading on top met the breading on the bottom without pausing for much of anything in between. A vegan could have made peace with it...

...It has stabs of ill-advised invention, like a starter of gummy juniper-smoked swordfish with misshapen, oddly frayed wedges of orange and other citrus. It has usual suspects, like spaghetti (overcooked) with clams (slightly gritty), or grilled branzino (moist, though bland)....And no pig should perish for a pork chop as dry as one at Ago."

This may in fact be Bruni's best work to date. He references Shelley Winters (twice!), calls his waiter the bucatini Houdini, and seeks deliverance from a misguided server who calls one of the B-man's dishes a "special rack-of-lamb veal chop." That is going to leave a mark De Niro. [NYT]

Alan Richman gives Scott Conant's Scarpetta a shot and decides his food is just as good as it was at L'Imerpo: "His pastas in particular seem to have been given a boost. They're still elegantly crafted, but they're more Batali-like: maybe Batali in long pants. They’re stuffed to the utmost and consequently quite filling—the foie gras ravioli outrageously, and triumphantly, so." [GQ]

Pete Wells doesn't want to like inauthentic Manhattan chain Sophie's Cuban, but he begrudgingly gives in: "Authenticity can be overrated. That’s what I was thinking, at least, as I ran my teeth through a sandwich of fried pork, sweet plantains, spicy mayonnaise and pickled onions...This inauthentic restaurant had delivered authentic sandwich bliss." [NYT]

The RG files her review on Alain Ducasse's Benoit, and while she finds some winners (escargot, onion soup), it only earns two stars: "This isn't food that's meant to spotlight the chef. This is food that ought to transcend a chef's ego, something Ducasse acknowledges...The trouble is that the food itself simply isn't transcendent. You can find excellent bistro food all over New York in a less formal atmosphere." [NYDN]

In the Platt's stead, the Robs take on three Brooklyn pizza joints, South Brooklyn Pizza, Toby's Public House, and Roberta's, and award them each two UG stars: "In such an eclectic but persnickety pizza landscape, some of Brooklyn’s newest contenders have nothing in common besides gumption, enthusiasm, and sheer determination to produce credible pies in the unlikeliest of surroundings..." [NYM]

THE ELSEWHERE: Paul Adams files a two-fer on the surprisingly good Japanese-Italian restaurants Greenwich Grill and Moco Global Dining, Gael Greene likes Hundred Acres, Moira Hodgson is at Bar Q, Sietsema somehow enjoys a meal at Williamsburg's Fiore, and Jay Cheshes gives four of six stars to Lee Gross' Broadway East just as he announces his departure.

THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives Bushwick's Roberta's a B, Jaunted isn't a fan of Park Slope's Lookout Hill, The Wandering Eater checks in on Terroir and the Dessert Truck, Sign of the Pink Pig is at Broadway East and Veritas, eateryROW sampled the bad food at Josie's, NYC Food Guy checks out the BABBQ, and Goodie's First tries out Red Hook newbie Annabelle's.

Benoit Bistro

60 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019 646 943 7373

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