Today Sam Sifton shines the Dining Section spotlight on overlooked Gramercy gem, Novita: "In any other metropolis in North America, it would be well known among that city’s best places to eat...But in New York, a lot of people have never heard of the place." Not only that. It has improved in it 16 years in existence, meaning Sifty thinks it deserves an upgrade from Reichl's one star assessment in '95. He gives her a two spot:
A plate of gramigna alla carbonara, for instance, thin strands of curled pasta with eggs, pecorino romano, guanciale and black pepper, arrives on the table as a riot of simplicity, a four-member noise band. It is outstanding, firm and pliant, salty and sweet, slick and sticky and rich...Breaded baby eggplant baked with tomato, mozzarella and Parmesan is like something out of a Bensonhurst fever dream..The pastas are just ridiculous: perfectly prepared, full of flavor, a rejoinder to low expectations.As for the entrees? Less successful but not total botch jobs, Sifton says. Order a bunch of pastas, share with the table, enjoy the setting, and in the end, "It is hard to eat there and not think yourself lucky." [NYT]
Though befuddled by the weird, ever changing menu, Robert Sietsema likes Roman's in Fort Greene: "most of the seating is at tight two-tops, destined to be occupied by earnest dating couples puzzling over the menu while struggling to make themselves heard above the ungodly din...Despite ordering confusion...the food at Roman's can be spectacular." [VV]
Gael Greene reports that the Upper West Side is nuts for the new location of Five Napkin Burger: " A huddle of early-birds gathered outside last Monday when the door officially opened at 5 pm and unfettered flocks have been piling in ever since, perching at the bar or clustered in the small entry waiting for a table." But perhaps they shouldn't be: "The sprawling greaser is not seared and it’s barely warm, almost raw." [Insatiable Critic]
Plattypants files a twofer this week, awarding one star each to newcomers Tipsy Parson, from the owners of the Little Giant, and Corsino, the newest in the 'ino family. On the former: "You can get a mini-appetizer of oysters fried in cornmeal (very good), and fried chicken livers (not so good)...Most of the other dishes...tasted like generic restaurant food, overlaid with a cloying southern sweetness. And the latter: "None of the pastas or entrées costs over $20, and most are competent in a serviceable, professional way, but not outstanding." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Dave Cook files an Under on the fufu at Papaye in the Bronx, The Wall Street Journal compares the wine list, quality of food at Veritas and Apiary, Sarah DiGregorio finds both "junky-good" and good-good food at Midtown newcomer Izakaya Moku, TONY tries out two new museum restaurants The Wright and Robert, Tables for Two is a fan of the lamb burger at The Breslin, and Restaurant Girl has killer crab cakes and fried chicken at Choptank.
THE BLOGS: The Food Doc tries the first night of Locanda Verde's all you can eat pasta dinner, Goodies First gets a sampling of Sho Shaun Hergatt for Restaurant Week, Ed Levine gives an A, a B, and a B+ to Katz's Delicatessen, NY Journal finds excellent aps, cold and overpriced entrees at Colicchio & Sons, Immaculate Infatuation deems the food at Lebanese newcomer Balade almost as good as grandma's, and Carroll Gardens Diary has a rave for Luna Rossa on Court Street.