New York critic Adam Platt thinks that Pasquale Jones marks the arrival of a new breed of Italian restaurants in New York City. It's smaller and "more nimble" than the trattorias and fine dining restaurants that flourished in previous decades. Much of the food is cooked in wood-fired ovens. The menus are generally pretty short at these establishments. And instead of rare Tuscans, the wine lists feature "Sicilian peasant blends." More importantly, though, Platt loves a lot of the dishes that Tim Caspare and Ryan Hardy are serving at Pasquale Jones. Here are few of his favorites:
The beefeaters at my table went slightly mad over the well-aged bone-in rib eye for two ($125, with a giant charred onion as big as a softball), although for maximum utility, I recommend the $48 pork shank, also for two, which is braised to an almost fruity tenderness and finished with lardo and fennel pollen. Add a pizza or two, and the simple house dessert (grilled pineapples with mascarpone-flavored ice cream one evening, pears with the same gelato the next), and it’s enough to feed a discerning family of four out on the great savannah for close to a week.
Plattypants gives the restaurant a big, bad three-star rating.
Meanwhile, Platt doesn't find the same degree of culinary fireworks at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's La Sirena in the Maritime Hotel. He describes the restaurant as "a large and glittering cruise ship of a place," where the bar is more fun than the dining room. Here's Platty on a few hits and misses:
The "braised and roasted" chicken entrée seemed to have been leached of all flavor long before it reached the roasting stage, and the steak for two is aged in Batali’s trademark lardo, a process that imbues the meat with a certain degree of salty goodness but also gives it an unfortunate bouncy, vulcanized texture. Save room, at the end of your dinner, however, for Michael Laiskonis’s festive, elegantly pre-potted ’90s-era desserts, in particular the honey-walnut semifreddo, which is speckled, like some exotic sea creature, with spikes of frozen meringue.
The critic gives La Sirena one star.