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Sam Sifton Lays a Big Fat Goose Egg on Mia Dona 2.0

Sam Sifton swoops into Mia Dona this week to assess the status of the Donatella Arpaia restaurant now that it's lost its star chef Michael Psilakis. It's not great. And she can kiss Frankie Two Star's assessment from '08 goodbye; Sifton slaps it with a "satisfactory" goose egg.

And so here is the new, chef-less iteration of Mia Dona: exactly the sort of decent, middlebrow, red-sauce Italian restaurant you’d relish if you found it in a town near the town where you grew up in the suburbs of New York. Within the five boroughs of New York City, we call that sort of restaurant satisfactory.

...salads are almost a good are excellent little calzones...The main dishes, however, go off the rails. That eggplant parmigiana is almost totally free of taste or character, a sandwich interior taken from a deli in Anywhereville. The roasted baby chicken with peppers and sweet-and-sour cipollini onions, meanwhile, has a corporate tang, a hint of mild depression: a charity-dinner entree made for 200 people....Mia Dona’s version of tomato-braised beef tripe with garlic toast can serve as a complete explanation why some consider tripe to be spongy and horrid. It is both.

He ends with a zinger, suggesting that Arpaia—who has olive oil lines, a TV show, and a book—sell the only superb item on the menu, her mother's meatballs, at grocery stores, "Sometimes the way to the top is to go straight at the middle." [NYT]

Jay Cheshes does not have much nice to say about Pulino's: "...if you’re going to bring a marquee chef to New York to make pizza, it had better be the best thing to happen to cheese, sauce and dough since the debut of DiFara. Appleman’s pies certainly aren’t...At their worst, they’re as brittle as crackers with meat, cheese and sauce sparsely sprinkled on top." [TONY]

Gael Greene already has a review of the week-old John DeLucie spot The Lion. The good: "...the biscuits are ethereal...and the pork chop (on second try) is a singular triumph." The bad: "The modest serving of sheep’s cheese cavatelli is actually a blessing...None of us wants to eat them anyway." [IC]

Robert Sietsema finds flaw in sceney newcomer Kenmare: "Kenmare proved disappointing. While the ingredients were unimpeachable, the facile preparation of entrées was a deadly sin, making you wish the kitchen had managed to squirt an additional sauce or two...Kenmare is a place that could make zombies very happy." [VV]

This week, the Underground Gourmet awards three U.G. stars to the Smile, the year-old Noho shop and cafe. After mentioning how hip the place is, they get to the cooking: "Marden cooks like an especially talented dinner-party hostess, re-creating taste memories of places she’s been and dishes she’s loved, and that’s meant as a compliment." [NYM]

THE ELSEWHERE: Alan Richman is charmed by both dinner and brunch at East Villager Northern Spy Food Co., Pete Wells recommends sticking to the marquee items at the reincarnation of Pies 'n' Thighs, Sarah DiGregorio deems Pulino's a "good trattoria," Metromix is wowed by East Village newcomer The Brindle Room, The Brooklyn Paper writes that there's a lot to like at Park Slope newcomer Thistle Hill Tavern, Tables for Two files on the scene at Russian hit Mari Vanna, and Ryan Sutton gains 13 pounds at Fatty 'Cue.

THE BLOGS: The Food Doc checks in on Marea almost a year after his first visit, Cleaned My Plate notes that Torrisi requires patience but is worth it in the end, NYC Foodie checks out the late night industry special at Sorella, The Gurgling Cod calls Kenmare a bizarro gastropub, Immaculate Infatuation has a love letter for Al Di La in Park Slope, and The Pink Pig and NY Journal both have their fair share of hits and misses at Fatty 'Cue.

The Lion

62 West Ninth Street, New York, NY 10011 (212) 353-8400 Visit Website

Fatty 'Cue

91 South 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (718) 599-3090 Visit Website

The Smile

26 Bond Street, New York, NY 10012


98 Kenmare Street, New York, NY 10013 (212) 274-9898

Mia Dona

206 East 58th St., New York, NY