Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito took over the kitchen at the Standard Grill in Meatpacking, and Times critic Pete Wells is decidedly underwhelmed by the hype around the chef’s return to New York City restaurants. He is, however, impressed by DiSpirito’s food, giving the restaurant a two-star review.
“The best things at Standard Grill, and there are quite a lot of them, depend on very good ingredients touched as little as possible,” Wells writes, highlighting the gluten-free, “cracker thin” toast made with nuts, oats, seeds, and psyllium-seed husks that appears with multiple dishes.
The only dish DiSpirito carried over from his days at Union Pacific is the raw scallops with uni and “throat-searing” mustard oil; Wells says the dish foreshadowed his style at the Standard Grill, which he described as “the luxury minimalism of an omakase sushi chef.” The skewers highlight that deftness with ingredients, Wells writes, cooked over Japanese charcoal and featuring things like “fantastic” Peconic Bay scallops, “feathery” maitake mushrooms, and “buttery” chicken livers.
Wells has less praise to offer for the Italian dishes on the menu. “Neither of the two pastas showed Mr. DiSpirito at his best,” he writes, positing that they were thrown in for fans of DiSpirito’s 2003 reality series The Restaurant, about the chef’s shuttered Italian restaurant Rocco’s on 22nd. But he says steaks — “dry-aged until ripe” — are a standout, which is important for a grill. Two stars.