New York Times critic Pete Wells identifies a theme for readers in his double review this week of two downtown restaurants, Coco Pazzo and Yves: “laid-back restaurants where you can enjoy a pleasant and unpretentious summer meal.” He had mainly nice things to say about the restaurants, which each scored a star.
Of revived Soho restaurant Coco Pazzo from chef and owner Pino Luongo, it’s “Tuscan food retrofitted for American appetites [that] may be easier to see for what it is now that it has lost its fashionable gloss”:
When you order pappa al pomodoro and taste the juicy olive oil that slicks the warm, basil-flecked, bread-thickened tomato pulp, you’re not earning bragging rights. You’re eating soup, and a very good one. Nobody will think you’re a culinary trailblazer if you get the cacciucco, either, but you can console yourself with the tender shrimp, scallops, cod and clams in the faintly spicy and fennel-scented broth.
But in nearly the same breath, Wells dives into dishes he did not like, such as inconsistent french fries, too-al dente tagliolini, and “slightly tough” squid.
Similarly at Yves, open in Tribeca for two years, but with a new chef in Alex Baker, Wells finds “French food with an appealingly relaxed, seasonal attitude”:
As interpreted by Ms. Baker, mussels Provençal are not the usual mound of black shells in thin pink liquid with a few slices of baguette; the shells are gone, the mussels are good fat ones and their sauce is more concentrated, augmented with tomato paste and roasted cherry tomatoes and garnished with thick-crusted cubes of toasted bread. The snails are more traditional, parsley-garlic butter sloshing around in their shells. If these land snails wondered what they were doing on a bed of seaweed, they didn’t show it.
But again, he also finds “some unevenness in the kitchen” with inconsistent fluke meunière and spotty service.
All in all, both restaurants make it out looking like decently good places to have dinner. One star each.