Yesterday, Pete Wells awarded four stars to Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin. This is the third time that a NYT critic has bestowed this honor upon the restaurant, and according to Wells, Le Bern is delivering an experience that's still elegant and deeply satisfying. He finds that the menu is a mix of "flat-out luxurious" dishes, "scene-stealers," and plates where "thrills are the hushed kind." He writes that after the recent redesign, the "interior now walks in step with Le Bernardin’s cuisine." He notes that sommelier Aldo Sohm has "studded his list with the required blockbusters, but he also has hidden oddities and discoveries to drink..." And the critic's final thought: "In spite of Mr. Ripert’s television appearances, in spite of the restaurant’s global acclaim, no one ever tried to let me know I was lucky to be there. But I was." [NYT]
Ryan Sutton doesn't love the space at Neta, but he thinks that Masa vets Jimmy Lau and Nick Kim are serving some good and occasionally excellent Japanese fare: "Kim amps up flavors with an eye toward balance. The intense gelatins of eel are checked by a cucumber wrapping. The Swiss-like neutrality of kanpachi gets a kick from spicy potato crisps. And that signature spicy salmon dish, the last composed course before sushi service begins, boasts a gorgeous unctuousness. The cool tartare sits below bonito flakes and a layer of sizzling rice." Sutton gives the restaurant two stars. [Bloomberg]
Gael Greene visits Upper East Side Italian restaurant Primola. The menu reminds her of "any Manhattan northern Italian in the ‘80s," but the place is packed, and the food mostly delivers. A highlight: " I figure I’ll challenge the kitchen by ordering the $38 grilled veal chop “between medium rare and rare.” It arrives a bit singed, but timed to my taste exactly – sweetly caramelized, pink, savory, incredibly juicy. Maybe the best veal chop in recent memory. I can’t quite believe the succulence." [Insatiable Critic]
Steve Cuozzo likes what Daniel Humm and Will Guidara are up to at The Nomad: "NoMad’s fabulous fowl, pumped up with black truffles and foie gras, is starting conversations on the street. It’s the grandest dish, but by no means the only grand one, at the year’s best new restaurant by a mile." The critic gives The Nomad three stars out of four. [NYP]
Adam Platt awards two stars each to La Vara in Cobble Hill and Gwynnett Street in Williamsburg. On the latter: "Nothing my bedazzled tasters and I sampled was disappointing, and some dishes (the sea scallops with stinging nettles, the salmon smothered in an opulent oyster cream) are themselves worth the trip. [NYM]
Jay Cheshes hits up Lebanese import AlMayass: "The food here, geared toward a well-heeled clientele, offers a high-class reinterpretation of what’s often gut-busting fare—lighter and more elegant than a grandmother’s take. Cool baby eggplants stuffed with lemony rice are compact like sushi. Seared bastirma slices—Middle Eastern pastrami, essentially—come topped with sunny-side up quail eggs on two-bite crostini. Skewered rounds of soujouk (spicy salami) are flambéed tableside in a shower of arak, until they’re bubbling all over like molten caramel." He gives the restaurant three stars. [TONY]
Robert Sietsema samples the Sichuan cuisine at Little Pepper in College Point, Queens: "Dishes designated one chile are something of a wild card—they can be incendiary, like lamb with hot-and-spicy sauce with cumin; or mild as a milquetoast in a movie, as in pork meatballs in garlic sauce ($9.95), whose charm lies in its sheer quantity of ground meat, though the sauce is way too sugary." [Village Voice]
THE ELSEWHERE: Ligaya Mishan finds hits and misses at Anjappar in Curry Hill, the Voice's Tejal Rao is mostly impressed with the Sephardi-Moorish fare at La Vara, and Tables for Two is disappointed by the comfort food at Bowery Diner.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives an A minus to Taboonette near Union Square, the boys from Immaculate Infatuation approve of the Singaporean fare at Masak, the Feisty Foodie samples the 20 course tasting at Torrisi Italian Specialties, NYC Foodie enjoys the fried pizza at La Montanara, Chekmark Eats loves the spicy fare at Mission Chinese Food NYC, The Food Doc is pleased with the menu changes at wd~50, and Eat Big Apple has a fantastic meal at North End Grill.