Sam Sifton awards two stars this week to Shea Gallante's new Flatiron Italian restaurant Ciano, noting that compared to the chef's work at now dead restaurant Cru, "He isn’t trying so hard. And Ciano is exciting for that." He pays much mind to the wine list here, which features an impressive number of half bottles and the opportunity to experiment and also spend wildly. The door is run well, the crowd is a nice mix, but the service is often off, the portions sometimes askew. Luckily, the food is spot on:
Mr. Gallante cuts rock shrimp into tender little meatballs as an assaggini, a little snack even before the antipasti come, and their sweetness has the capacity to astonish...He makes veal meatballs with the texture of down pillows and puts these on melting polenta so that the mind is left spinning: Is this even meat?And having a roaring fireplace in the room doesn't hurt, either. [NYT]
He roasts baby artichoke hearts and tosses them into a bed of frisée lettuce. There are drifts of ricotta studded with pepperoncini on there as well, bolsters of cherry tomato. Synapses pop and sizzle at the combination.
Steve Cuozzo awards two and a half stars new Vegas Thai import Lotus of Siam: "Lotus of Siam's cup is more than half full. A little editing and more attention to detail could make everyone forget Las Vegas. And turn up the lights! A three-star restaurant is in reach. I'm willing to bet on it."
Ryan Sutton writes that the new John Dory works where the old one didn't, and awards it two stars: "The larger, louder uptown space breathes life into a corner of the Garment District with giant windows, fish tanks and a small-plates menu...It’s not a place to linger; it’s a gastro-diner that expects you to get in, get your fix of smoky chorizo stuffed squid, and get out." [Bloomberg]
Gael Greene checks out Michael White's new Midtown hotel restaurant Ai Fiori. She's surprised at how underpopulated the place is and how few pastas are on the menu, but is easily won over: "I’m quickly seduced by White’s usual exuberance: the dazzling 'mare e monte,' sea and mountain, slices of raw sea scallops alternating with celery root discs lined up in a marrow bone, garnished with marrow and bits of black truffle." [IC]
Adam Platt awards his first stars of the year, three of them to be exact, to Vegas Thai import Lotus of Siam: "...the dense, multipage document at Lotus of Siam reads like the Magna Carta...The potentially rubbery tod mun pla fish cakes ($10) have a quenelle-quality lightness to them, the fiery dishes...are righteously hot, and the soups and curries I sampled were layered with that classic, umami-rich balance of Thai flavors...without being glutinous or thick." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Dave Cook uncovers a taste of Bahia at Point Brazil in Queens, Jay Cheshes gives four stars to The John Dory Oyster Bar, Lauren Shockey notes that once you decipher the menu at FishTag, there is impressive food to be had, Robert Sietsema reports that the booze is cheap but the food's not that great at Caliu, while Metromix notes that Caliu serves traditional tapas with excellent ingredients
THE BLOGS: NYC Nom Nom is very excited about newcomer Albert Hall Tavern, Law & Food reaches his food limit at the delicious M Wells in Queens, Feisty Foodie thinks Prime Burger is a great alternative to Bill's Bar & Burger, The Pink Pig is underwhelmed by the menu choice but mostly likes the food at Mary Queen of Scots, The Food Doc sees a rosy future in Harlem for Marcus Samuelsson and his Red Rooster, Life with Food and Drink has expensive but spectacular food at Lincoln, Serious Eats gives a B+ to FishTag, and Immaculate Infatuation recommends checking out the specials at Lil Frankies.