Pete Wells has a new rule for reviewing Altamarea Group restaurants: "The amount of time spent critiquing each Altamarea place will be proportional to the time Altamarea spent coming up with the idea." So he devotes less than half of his column space to Ristorante Morini, the group's new restaurant on the Upper East Side. Still, he finds a lot to like on the menu from Michael White and Gordon Finn.
Although it's White's restaurant, Finn is the star of the show:
Gordon Finn, the executive chef, is turning out the most carefully prepared and well-considered food that the Altamarea Group has given New York since Ai Fiori opened in 2010. You should get an excellent meal if you stick to the cured and raw crudi, like the wonderful bay scallops with bits of pink grapefruit and dots of pistachio purée; the pastas, which are as good as they are at any Michael White restaurant, which is to say they are as good as at any place in the city; and dessert, overseen by Altamarea's corporate pastry chef, Robert Truitt.He's not a huge fan of the space, but Wells deems the restaurant worthy of two stars overall.
The critic also gives the same rating to Cagen, the new East Village Japanese restaurant in the old Kajitsu space from chef Toshio Tomita, who spent 16 years working for Nobu Matsuhisa. Wells writes that the chef "has his mentor's ability to bend Japanese tradition in his own directions." The critic loves the sushi, sashimi and soba. Two stars.
· Bending Tradition, and Bowing to It [NYT]
· All Coverage of Week in Reviews [~ENY~]