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Pete Wells Gives One Star Each to Italian Newcomers Sessanta and L'Amico

They're sceney, and the service is inconsistent, but the Times critic finds many dishes to like at these restaurants.

[John McDonald's Sessanta in Soho]
[John McDonald's Sessanta in Soho]
Daniel Krieger

At both Sessanta and L'Amico, Pete Wells finds squads of gals and guys enjoying themselves, loudly. They might not be visiting these restaurants for the food, but the critic has a few recommendations at both restaurants on what to order and what to skip. Here's Wells on the winners at John McDonald's Italian restaurant, Sessanta:

The struncatura spaghetti, with its intense multigrain flavor and rough surfaces that catch the sauce of anchovies in a fermented-fish paste called neonata, could have come straight out of a Calabrian kitchen. Was the sandwich of caciocavallo and thin slices of tender beef tongue a less gnarly version of Sicily’s spleen sandwich, or its own thing? Either way, it was a meaty thrill, like the roll-ups of scallions and lamb belly run through with a skewer and crisped on a griddle.

At Laurent Tourondel's L'Amico, Pete likes the meatballs, the fusilli, and the pizza with kale and robiola. Both restaurants have weak spots on the menu, and the service can be hit or miss. Wells ultimately gives both restaurants one star apiece.

And, as a bonus this week, Wells also files a "Critic's Notebook" piece on Dominique Ansel's new dessert tasting counter U.P. Here's Pete on the egg dish that's supposed to recreate the sensation of your first kiss:

The surface of the egg was bristly, and when I drank the soup from it, I did have the sensation of kissing somebody — my father. Then my mouth filled with little tapioca pearls flavored like cream soda followed by a long, smooth lozenge of mint panna cotta. "This is Chef Ansel slipping you the tongue," we were told, "because he believes every first kiss should be a French kiss." If my first kiss had been anything like this, I’d still be a virgin.

Some other dishes are winners, though, and the critic concludes: "The U.P. menu had more ups than downs — another allegory, I suppose, or at least a metaphor."


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