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Pete Wells Awards Two Stars to Moti Mahal Delux

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This week, Pete Wells files on the six-month-old Upper East Side location of Indian chain Moti Mahal Delux. Wells is a big fan of the dishes made in the tandoori oven:

Skewers of lamb called burrah kebab emerge from the tandoor coated with a thick and tangy marinade of yogurt, sour cream and lemon juice spiced with garam masala. These chops make you want to gnaw at the bone once the meat is gone.

The most eye-opening item to come out of the oven is tandoori chicken, a preparation said to have been introduced to restaurant dining by the original Moti Mahal. ustifiably, the dish and the restaurant became famous. Juicy despite its black streaks of char, the tandoori chicken at Moti Mahal Delux has a subtle heat and spice but does not have the quarter-inch of candy-red flesh that indicates the presence of food coloring. After tasting it, I thought of the restaurants where I had been served poor facsimiles of the dish and wanted to demand refunds from all of them.

The critic also likes the vegetarian dishes, especially the black lentils. Wells points out that Moti Mahal Delux is also something of steal: "These are Curry Hill prices on the Upper East Side, and a bargain in any neighborhood for food that provides a surprising flavor of luxury." Two stars. [NYT]

Ryan Sutton loves the Italian fare at Hearth, and the charitable spirit of its proprietors. On the food: "Mole-like Boar ragu is tamed by way of cocoa-flavored rigatoni. And the $62 braised rabbit for two is a perfect symbiosis of tender meat, intense tomato paste and savory rosemary. If that sounds too fancy, keep in mind the dish eats like a basket of chicken wings, with polenta subbing for blue cheese. Your fingers turn red." Sutton gives the restaurant three stars. [Bloomberg]

Stan Sagner awards three stars (out of five) to L'Apicio: "Cavatelli ($18) mingles savory boar with tangy agrodolce beneath a melted blanket of Pecorino. It is sophisticated, satisfying comfort food. Mezzalune ($16) brimming with silky cauliflower purée provide an ethereal backdrop for toasted pine nuts, briny fried capers and a glaze of brown butter, a gentle, refined twist on a Sicilian classic." [NYDN]

Jay Cheshes gives three stars (out of five) to El Toro Blanco: "The chunky, tangy guacamole on every table comes with terrific warm chips. Rich, gooey queso fundido...is a pretty irresistible mix of mild and sharp cheeses with green chili sauce and crumbled chorizo. There are also stellar sweet-corn tamales to pick at, and plump empanadas stuffed with a gutsy mix of roasted short ribs and queso Oaxaca. Miniature tacos—tender chipotle shrimp or sweet and spicy al pastor pork tucked into soft corn tortillas with grilled pineapple—are just as easy to scarf down with a cold can of Tecate." [TONY]

Tejal Rao visits the new Nolita location of Cocoron: "Pork kimchi ($11.80) could be confused for a ramen, but its broth and meat are far too lean. No matter which soba you choose, a small jug of hot sobayu—the sweet cooking water you've been smelling all night—will arrive when you finish. Pour it into whatever remains of your dipping sauce and take a few sips for soba's greatest trick: a tripling of flavor, an electric wash of salt on the tongue." [VV]

Adam Platt awards one star each to Sirio and Strip House Midtown. On the former: "Some of the seafood dishes, like the turbot and the branzino with crushed olives, have a stolid, professional quality, but others—a fried-oyster special encased, tragically, in a cinder-colored squid-ink crust—do not. If you're nostalgic for the kind of anti-desserts the Maccionis used to be famous for, try the cardamom-pear affogato, which is served with brown-butter almond cake and cardamom gelato." [GS/NYM]

THE ELSEWHERE: Gael Greene enjoys many of the dishes at Pino Luongo's Morso, Robert Sietsema digs the Uzbek fare at Nargis Cafe in Coney Island, Ariel Levy of Tables for Two likes the food more than the cocktails at Chop Shop, and Ligaya Mishan is a fan of the namesake dish at La Tarte Flambée.

THE BLOGS: Serious Eats has mixed feelings about Gaonnuri, Eat Big Apple awards four and a half stars out of five to The Quarter in the West Village, The Immaculate Infatuaion boys give Jacob's Pickles a solid seven, The Pink Pig visits Le Philosophe, NYC Foodie digs the food at The Beagle, Chekmark Eats stops in at Calliope in the East Village, and NY Journal is impressed by Comodo.
· All Coverage of Reviews [~ENY~]
[Photo Credit]

Sirio Ristorante

795 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10065 212 940 8195 Visit Website

El Toro Blanco

257 6th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10014 (212) 645-0193 Visit Website

The Beagle

162 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 Visit Website

Hearth

403 East 12th Street, Manhattan, NY 10009 (646) 602-1300 Visit Website

Gaonnuri

1250 Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10001 (212) 971-9045 Visit Website

Moti Mahal Delux

1149 First Ave., New York, NY

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