Just as he wasn't blown away by the new sleek new iterations of A Voce, Oceana, and Aureole, Sam Sifton is disappointed that San Domenico, once New York's "best classically Italian restaurant," has compromised too much in its attempt to modernize and become SD26. He gives it one star:
The sedate and elegant San Domenico, which opened in 1988, has been kicked to the curb. SD26 is the restaurant equivalent of a second wife: younger, considerably more nervous, dressed in a way that might raise eyebrows in the social circles the original restaurant was opened to serve...
...Certainly there is excellent food at SD26, and in formats...that are welcome to those who wish to spend less in restaurants. But the answer to changing tastes is not perhaps to move to a Flatiron district loft and install a sound system and pinlights in the ceiling. It is not perhaps to court T-shirts and jeans over jackets, ties and dresses, nor to abandon a printed wine list in favor of portable tablet computers that old patrons handle as if they were explosive devices...Renovation of the original mission may have been a smarter course.
After touching upon the hits (pasta, braised beef cheeks) and misses (beef tartare, baccalà), Sifty ends on this sad note: "Emerging onto 26th Street, the overwhelming feeling a diner is left with is one of exhaustion, the sense that at SD26 we are a long, long way from the kind of restaurant Mr. May has stood for in New York City. It’s a restaurant to make anyone feel old." [NYT]
Ryan Sutton notes that while Midtown's Casa Lever has plenty of art and VIPs, the food needs some work: "Millions of dollars worth of Warhol prints don’t make a flavorless $42 veal chop taste any better...And Ron Perelman hanging out at the bar doesn’t justify a ho-hum, $48 Dover sole." [Bloomberg]
Meanwhile Jay Cheshes finds the food at Casa Lever inconsistent but often satisfying: "Mario Danieli, a longtime Sant Ambroeus chef...seems to have brought his A-game to the venture. His presentations are more exacting than elsewhere in the group...Despite some promising starts, inconsistency plagues too much of the food. One pasta dish...is a near washout, while a classic risotto...might’ve been close to perfection if the chef hadn’t neglected to add salt." [TONY]
In Adam Platt's stead, the Robs file on two Lucha Libre-themed taquerias, the one month old UES spot Cascabel and the 10 day-old La Lucha on Avenue A. They award three UG stars to Cascabel, where "the housemade chorizo made with four types of chiles is the star," and two UG stars to La Lucha, which "strives for a gritty Mexico City–street-food authenticity." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Tables for Two deems The Vanderbilt a positive departure from much of what's available in Brooklyn, Dave Cook sings his praises of Harlem's Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken, Robert Sietsema is a fan of what's going on at Williamsburg's Saltie, a restaurant masquerading as a sandwich shop, and Sarah DiGregorio realizes Mercat Negre, one of New York's few Catalan restaurants, still needs some work.
THE BLOGS: The Hungry Roach reports that Corsino has a few kinks to work out, Immaculate Infatuation has a disastrous meal at Travertine, A Tiger in the Kitchen thinks that East Side Social Club isn't a Monkey Bar replacement quite yet, Lost City finds Trini Gul a great source for authentic Trinidad cuisine, NY Journal files on the burger at the unremarkable Gansevoort 69, and Ed Levine gives a B to Northern Spy Food Co..