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The New York Times Brings Back Starred Restaurant Reviews After Pandemic Hiatus

Plus, New Jersey ice cream shop Coney Waffle expands to its namesake Coney Island — and more intel

A carryout tray filled with yellow rice and beans, and chopped roast pork with brown shards of crackly skin.
Wells awarded three stars to La Piraña Lechonera for its line-inducing roast pork, pulpo, and mofongo studded with pork and seasoned with “God juice.”
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

After a pandemic hiatus that lasted over two years, the New York Times is back to doling out stars for its restaurant reviews. Critic Pete Wells broke the news yesterday with an effusive three-star review of La Piraña Lechonera, a legendary South Bronx food trailer run by Angel Jimenez, who is famous for his juicy, fatty, sought-after lechón. Wells praised the spot for its glorious, machete-chopped roast pork and excellent rendition of pulpo, and included a brief line nodding to the return of starred restaurant reviews: “We suspended the stars back in March 2020, and although the pandemic hasn’t ended, people are going to restaurants,” Wells wrote.

Restaurant critics across the country paused their review ratings systems — and, for a time, reviews altogether — at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. At the Times, Wells’s last starred review was a praising one-star write-up of East Williamsburg deli Pastrami Masters in March 2020. At other publications, the break from stars led some to rethink the controversial ratings system altogether: Eater permanently dropped stars from its reviews starting in September 2021, and the Infatuation initially did the same, although it has since reversed course and started rating restaurants again on a 0-10 scale.

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