Bruni reviews Scott Conant's new MePa Italian, Scarpetta, this week and enjoys it far more than he did the chef's previous restaurant, Alto. The spaghetti sauce, "prettified" mozzarella sticks, and black cod ("Nobu by way of Naples"), among other dishes, win over the Brunz, earning Conant three stars
"...Mr. Conant, whose cooking took a precious turn when he opened the restaurant Alto in 2005, is mining a more straightforward, soulful vein.Bruni's one critique is a highly expected one: "Scarpetta’s front bar area...grows crowded and chaotic, threatening the smoothness with which the restaurant operates and ratcheting up the noise level. The restaurant’s already plenty tough on the ears." [NYT]
...He’s not standing rigidly on a frosty mountaintop in northernmost Italy, the region that Alto showcased. He’s letting his gaze drift southward, and he’s letting more sunshine into his food.
...Under his stewardship, Alto, which means high or tall, left you coolly impressed. Scarpetta — which means little shoe, but refers to a hunk of bread you use to sop up lingering sauce — leaves you stuffed and happy."
Alan Richman files on Forge, the new Tribeca restaurant by Marc Forgione, son of the icon Larry: "...much about Forgione’s polished cooking is admirable, and most of his combinations are intelligent and sumptuous, although the opulence can be excessive...here’s the news I’m sending dad’s way: I think the kid might turn out to be a better chef than the old man." [GQ]
Randall Lane gives four of six stars to Veritas and its new chef (a replacement for Scott Bryan and then Ed Cotton) Gregory Pugin: "..there’s been a tilt toward the Gallic. Given the oenophilic theme, that shift is promising, and Pugin’s flair is visible in each plate—his compositions are striking and painterly...But I found myself occasionally perplexed at how wine-unfriendly Pugin’s offerings were." [TONY]
The Cuozz also weighs in on Scarpetta today and doesn't seem to like it as much as Bruni: "It's reassuring to see Conant in the house, but his firm hand doesn't always show up on the plate. It's great having him back, but a little more diligence, please." [NYP]
The RG weighs in on Tribeca newcomer Forge from young chef Marc Forgione. It sounds like the place has potential but offered up one too many disappointments, earning two stars: "Forge is a dressed-up, down-home restaurant that serves dressed-up, down-home cooking. But don't let looks fool you. Potato salad can be a splendid thing...At Forge - not so transcendent...Most dishes seem to be missing one pivotal player. It's a slightly tragic but recurring theme that unfolds over a succession of dinners." [NYDN]
THE ELSEWHERE: Frank Bruni and Oliver Schwaner-Albright file briefs on Hundred Acres and Curry-Ya, Paul Adams is insulted by the unadventurous food at Talay, Ryan Sutton waits 90 minutes for a table at Sag Harbor's Tutto il Giorno, Sietsema isn't too impressed with the conveyor belt sushi joint Sakae Sushi, Sarah DiGregorio files on twin additions to the haute-barnyard genre Forge and Hundred Acres, and Tables for Two has a grand old time at Eighty One.
THE BLOGS: Ed Levine gives Amy's Bread a B+, Writing with My Mouth Full encounters some service issues at Hearth, Cleaned My Plate checks out the new Delicatessen, Always Eating finds Boqueria "middle of the road", Pink Pig goes to see what Alto is up to, The Girl Who Ate Everything eats a lot at Otto, and NYC Nosh is disappointed by Red Egg.