12 years after penning a $25 and Under review for the then-new Lupa, interim critic Eric Asimov returns to Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's ever popular osteria to finally bestow upon it a much deserved full review. This time around, however, he seems to like the place less, deducting vital points for an overcrowded dining room and an overstretched kitchen. He awards it one star, noting that dinner there "is about as joyous an experience as trying to squeeze onto the subway at rush hour":
The food, under Cruz Goler, the chef de cuisine, strains to meet the demands of popularity. At its best it can be highly satisfying, but it’s inconsistent and sometimes has a slightly tired feeling...Many of the antipasti have a one-note quality, a blend of vinegar and sweetness repeated from one dish to the next, particularly apparent when you order a combination platter.Bottom line: in off hours "Lupa continues to be delightful, satisfying and attentive" but the rest of the time it "feels more like commerce than cucina." [NYT}
...Pastas are another story. These simple, humble Roman recipes are as satisfying as they are elemental, and Lupa blessedly resists the urge to gussy them up with additional ingredients or to lay the sauce on too thickly....they are all superb.
Robert Sietsema finds a Greek gem in Astoria Called Gregory's 26: "O, the food! I haven't tasted such perfect Greek country fare in a dozen years...there always seems to be a whole roast animal working in the kitchen, especially on weekends, when the tables are dominated by extended families rather than single men. For $20, you can have a plate of baby goat or baby lamb, crowding the platter with lemon-roasted potatoes." [VV]
Oliver Strand recommends sticking to the pies at new Noho pizzeria Forcella: "A margherita regina ($15), with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, is a watery mess...Others fare better. The secondigliano ($14), a four-cheese pizza of mozzarella, provola, gorgonzola and grana, is a gratifying balance of flavors and textures. And the fuorigrotta...tastes like a vacation on the Amalfi Coast." [NYT]
Gale Greene encounters an overtaxed kitchen on her visit to Midtown's The Smith: "Both my burger – I ordered it rare – and son Nico’s medium rare – are slightly overcooked. Perhaps that reflects the time it took to get to the table but I'm through sending food back for the evening. The bun is nicely toasted, the bacon is crisp and not dry, and the pink Louis sauce distracts from the over-cooking." [IC]
Lauren Shockey reports that Russian newcomer Onegin is better in theory than in practice: "Onegin feels like the czarist Russian exhibit at Disneyland's It's a Small World: highly stylized...with annoyingly loud music and slightly pushy service...Although you'll encounter some gastronomic delights, you'll also find a dose of suburban wedding eats." [VV]
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats Gives an A- to Littleneck, Immaculate Infatuation equates Upper West Side old timer Ouest to Cabin Down Below for the 65 and older set, Chekmark Eats finds the dishes too saucy at Whitehall, and NY Journal finds the food at La Mar Cebicheria pleasant and inoffensive.