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Dell'anima

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Ringside Seats at the Chef's Counter

Chef's tables used to be the final word on special treatment: the one table in a good restaurant to which the chef paid personal attention. But as the entertainment ante is upped each year — blurring the line between gastronomy and theater — chef's tables have given way to the even more intimate chef's counters. There, the lucky diner sits only a few feet of burnished wood away from the action. From the high-end bar at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon to the counter-only option at Momofuku Ko, diners are eager to see the sausage being made. Here are a few of our favorite counters, each an example of the narrow border between feeder and fed.

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A Dovetail Spy Scandal; Gordo Ruins New Jersey Valentine's Day

A Food & Wine contributing editor has been working as a hostess at Dovetail, the new three-star restaurant, for the past two months. Part of her arrangement with chef John Fraser? To spot food writers and alert the kitchen, but apparently she was no help in pointing out Frank Bruni. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine] Shake Shack and Burger Joint will face off tonight at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival for the title of champion in the “Burger Bash.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Landmarc at the Time Warner Center is throwing an Oscar party of sorts this Sunday, featuring a five-course tasting menu and two flat-screen TVs in the dining room. [Zagat]

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Le Cirque Back in the Three-Star Club; It’s La Belle Epoque Again at Adour

Who says Frank Bruni has no heart? After demoting Le Cirque last year, Bruni restores the third star, courtesy largely to new chef Christophe Bellanca’s masterly handling of ultraluxe ingredients and, of course, the Maccioni family’s trademark feudal service. [NYT] Maybe you don’t consider the salmon at Dovetail “a religious experience,” the way Restaurant Girl does, but everyone seems to agree with Adam Platt that it’s a very fine restaurant and outrageously good for the Upper West Side. [NYDN] Related: This Dove Flies Ryan Sutton has filed the first review of Adour, and he makes it sound, at least to anachronistically minded readers, truly awesome. Did you know Adour is serving lobster thermidor? Lobster thermidor! In this day and age! Sutton is also impressed by the virtual wine list, as most other visitors have been. [Bloomberg]

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Platt Pans Brasserie 44; Make Your Own Guacamole

Bar Blanc
Reading this week’s magazine — or at least the food-related parts of it — had its own special rhythm. First came the shock and guilty excitement of reading Adam Platt’s review of Bar Blanc, which he liked, and Brasserie 44, which he didn't — zero stars. In a week with only one opening (Bridge Vineyards Tasting Room), Rob and Robin taught us how to make guacamole (there's a video, too!) and turned us on to the rebellious risotto at Dell’anima. They also found local treats that are globally inspired and clued us in on the rabbits multiplying across city menus. Gael Greene managed to get a table in the early days of Chop Suey, and her pre-pre-pre-review is favorable.

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Allen & Delancey Gets Its Two-Star Due; Irving Mill Continues to Uninspire

In spite of lousy desserts and a misstep in the fish department there, Frank Bruni couldn't avoid giving Allen and Delancey's complex, accomplished food two stars. [NYT] Alan Richman, no pushover, was also very impressed by Allen & Delancey, though he noted that the chef's strength clearly lies in the realm of turf, rather than surf. Still, the respect is there: “The visceral satisfaction is high. He piles on flavors, and he does so with assurance.” [Bloomberg] Irving Mill: tired concept, spotty execution. Restaurant Girl joins the chorus. [NYDN]

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Fiamma Earns Its Third Star; Love for Kenny Shopsin

Fiamma hits the three-star jackpot, tickling Frank Bruni in his sweet spot and earning itself the critical credibility Steve Hanson wanted when he hired Fabio Trabocchi. Bruni admits the place isn't Italian, but he is in love with the ultrarich, ultracomposed food. [NYT] Market Table took over the space that was Shopsin's, and this gave the Randall Lane the good idea of reviewing both restaurants at the same time. Market Table earns four stars (out of six, mind you) for its solid food and gracious service. Kenny, in his new digs at Essex Street Market, gets three for his still terrific food and his not-so-gracious service. [TONY] The Fiamma review should wash away any melancholy caused by Alan Richman's lukewarm number on Primehouse, Fiamma's sister. Richman likes the steaks pretty well and singles out crab cake for enthusiastic praise, but he casts a skeptical eye on pretty much everything else, from its resident bull-god to the Himalayan salt aging room. [Bloomberg]

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Babbo and Le Bernardin Alums Take On the West Village; Grayz Serving Lunch

Chelsea: Cookbook author Judith Jones hosts a reading, book signing, and wine tasting tonight at Bottlerocket. [Bottlerocket] Harlem: Looks like a new café and bakery called La Perle Noir is coming to the corner of Lenox and West 131st Street. [Uptown Flavor] Long Island City: Tonight's free tasting at Vine Wine showcases wines of Spain. [Joey in Astoria] Midtown West: Grayz is now serving lunch. [NYS] Tribeca: Eric Ripert's A Return to Cooking includes lovely seasonal recipes but also pictures paintings from artist Valentino Cortazar, whose originals debut at the Hal Katzen Gallery at 459 Washington Street tomorrow. [Snack] West Village: Dell'Anima from former Le Bernardin chef Gabriel Thompson and onetime Babbo sommelier Joe Campanale opens today at 38 Eighth Avenue. [NYT]

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Babbo Sommelier's Enters the West Village Fray; Applebee's Serving Cake Man Raven Red Velvet

Downtown Brooklyn: Applebee’s has started serving Cake Man Raven red-velvet cake in an effort to compete with nearby Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue. [NYDN] East Village: Belcourt is now open for lunch, which features a lamb burger and roasted butternut squash and apple ravioli; weekend brunch is also on the way, with vanilla and bourbon French toast and salt-cod hash. [Grub Street] Forest Hills: Young Chefs Academy cooking school for kids has opened its first branch in New York City at 108-10 72nd Avenue. [NYT] Lower East Side: New Austrian bar Cafe Katja at 79 Orchard Street features Austrian wine and German beer, which you can gulp down with meats and cheeses and homemade pickles, or traditional fare like goulash. [NYT] West Village: Dell’Anima, a collaboration between former Bread Tribeca sous-chef Gabriel Thompson and former Babbo sommelier Joe Campanale, opens next week on Eighth Avenue near Jane Street. [NYS]

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