In yet another retributive strike by a restaurateur against Frank Bruni (Jeffrey Chodorow's much-discussed broadside being the first), Morandi owner Keith McNally has planted a letter with Eater accusing the Times critic of being biased against woman chefs. “Bruni had never given a female chef in Manhattan anything more than one star, ever,” McNally writes. The complaint goes on for a long time and seems unlike McNally, who has almost always stayed above the fray. What’s especially unseemly is the way the letter dwells on Bruni’s attitude toward gender (“…when the chef is a man Bruni often makes quite a song and dance about it.”) Given the amount of food-world speculation about Bruni’s sexual orientation, this seems like a low blow, especially since the Times’ review echoed a near-universal critical consensus about Morandi. Times dining editor Pete Wells, asked to comment about the letter, agrees, saying simply, “Frank’s review speaks for itself. Period.”
Keith McNally: Bruni Has 'Unremittingly Sexist Slant' [Eater]
Having earlier disposed of Balthazar, Bruni moves on to Morandi and asks: “Is this tribute or burlesque?” Though he doesn’t dig the menu’s “greatest-hits approach,” he concedes Jody Williams’s food is “getting a worse rap than it deserves” (seems he read the Platt review). Final word: “Morandi can simply feel tired before its time, and not quite worth the struggle to get in and stay upright in the scrum.” [NYT]
Spiga, meanwhile, isn’t taking a traditional approach and suffers for it, according to Tables for Two. Chef Salvatore Corea has ideas, but “too many ideas, in some cases”— starting with the cocoa gnocchi. [NYer]
Sietsema brings his own Wonder bread to publicity-starved Fette Sau and finds baseball-bat beef ribs, spectacular brisket, damn good flank steak and shredded lamb “fragrant with the odor of pasturage.” [VV]
Related: Williamsburg’s Weird Barbecue Place
Randall Lane gives Anthos its first full-out rave, granting the restaurant five of six stars and writing about it in adoring terms. It's a rare move for Lane, and a good omen for the more powerful critics still to come. [TONY]
At times, Alan Richman likes the food at Morandi a lot, but when it's late and the place gets busy, he considers it to be a kind of restaurant hell. He won’t be going back after 9 p.m. “any time in my life.” [Bloomberg]
Paul Adams felt much the same about Morandi, calling out its fine fried foods but dissing its heavy pastas, “theme park” atmosphere, and lousy entrées. It’s unanimous: The critics all dislike Morandi. Meanwhile, Keith McNally is crying all the way to the bank. [NYS]
Related: Not So Bene [NYM]
The Four Seasons gets perhaps the most negative two-star review in the history of the Times; Bruni seems to think the stars were grandfathered in. A telling example of how reputation floats reviews. [NYT]
Meehan, meanwhile, visits a chowhound's paradise, a Hindu temple in Flushing. [NYT]
Morandi takes another blow, this time from Time Out’s Randall Lane, who like our own Adam Platt, finds it overdesigned and unimpressive, albeit with a few decent dishes. [TONY]
Related: Not So Bene [NYM]
This week’s magazine is an overflowing egg basket of fascinating features. First, Adam Platt proves himself a glutton for punishment: Just a week after successfully securing a table at the Waverly Inn without being a movie star (just the brother of one), he charges head first into the dining crunch at Morandi. Rob and Robin, meanwhile, take on the equally ambitious task of attempting the perfect poached egg — part of an “egg primer” that rounds up their favorite dishes and introduces us to specialty eggs that don’t exactly taste like chicken. Meanwhile, Gael Greene opts to down her egg in fish form at the newly opened counter at Wild Edibles.
We haven't yet been to Morandi, Keith McNally's new Italian spot in the West Village, but as lunchtime approaches — and as we learn about chef Jody Williams's duck sandwich — we must say we're tempted to head over. It's Muscovy duck breast on Balthazar Bakery bread, plus lots of other things. We'll let Williams explain, in this week's Annotated Dish at Grub Street.
Morandi's Deceptively Simple Duck Sandwich [Grub Street]
Chef Jody Williams had made her mark as a master of Italian cuisine at Gusto when Keith McNally hired her to run the kitchen at Morandi. Like most of her cooking, this duck sandwich with quince and apple mostarda and green savoy cabbage appears simple and rustic but was created with a great deal of thought and technique. Mouse over the arrows for Jody Williams’s explanation of each ingredient.
Chelsea:Markt your calendars: New location set to open ahead of previous expectations — early this week, in fact. [Eater]
Dumbo: Things not looking so good for Bubby’s Brooklyn: “kids overran the joint.” [Brooklyn Record]
Gramercy: Yow! Gramercy Hotel’s rooftop bar opening soon? [Down by the Hipster]
Tribeca: Robert De Niro’s hotel, which will house an outpost of L.A. hot spot Ago, now has a name. Take note: “It will make the Bowery Hotel look like a Red Roof Inn.” [Down by the Hipster]
West Village: Perhaps trying to deflect attention away from that Times review of Balthazar, Morandi tells us it will roll out breakfast in a couple of weeks. [Grub Street]
Morandi gets absolutely slaughtered by Steve Cuozzo. Keith McNally has hardly received a bad review yet. [NYP]
Meanwhile, Moira Hodgson loves the place: “You’ll want to taste everything on this menu.” She seems to have liked all of it, with the possible exception of an overpriced veal chop. Did these two even go to the same restaurant? [NYO]
Bruni one-stars Varietal, calling the food creative but uneven and lambasting avant-garde dessert chef Jordan Kahn, who has enjoyed a lot of critical love. The desserts “don’t so much eschew convention as pummel and shatter it — literally, and often pointlessly.” [NYT]
Morandi, the love child of Keith McNally and Jody Williams, has started serving lunch. Allow us to show you the menu, which is available from noon until 3 p.m. weekdays (reservations are taken up to one week in advance) and features poached-salmon paninis, saltimbocca, and pollo alla diavola. Good as the food sounds, you may be more excited by the fact that, first, you’ll now be able to score a seat during civilized hours (we just asked for a one o'clock table tomorrow and felt no pain) and, second, the weather is nice enough for them to have thrown open the French doors. Better still: outdoor tables in the summer and brunch coming soon. Daniel MaurerRelated: Restaurant Openings [NYM]
Apparently, abuse of every kind is rampant in kitchens. Herewith, complaints leveled against Daniel, Jean Georges, Megu, Babbo, and more. [NYP]
Post–KFC–Taco Bell scandal, New York restaurant closures triple. [NYP]
Morandi is, like every other Keith McNally venture, a smashing success, and likely to remain so. [NYP]
As far as restrooms go, Keith McNally’s are the gold standard. The man has pissed away a great deal of money importing gigantic urinals and sinks (as Schiller’s barkeep Corey Lima told us, boozed-up patrons often mistake one for the other), and his restroom lounges are bigger (and have nicer furniture) than certain apartments we’ve lived in. When he built the bathrooms at his new venture Morandi, he must’ve known everyone was watching. Did he suffer from performance anxiety?
The impending arrival of Morandi, the amply covered, Sicilian-inflected restaurant from Keith McNally, may have whetted your appetite for the island’s regional cooking. (Seeing the menu certainly did it for us.) But Morandi isn’t open for another week, and if you’re anything like Jeffrey Chodorow, you’ll want to be prepared to offer your own informed critiques of the place should the mean ol’ major critics review it harshly. So where can you train your tongue by sampling Sicilian specialties in the meantime? We’ve got just the three places for you.
Morandi may be the opening of the winter, and Rob and Robin have come through with a sneak peek at the much-awaited Italian restaurant and an interview with owner Keith McNally. And now, in a powerful addition to the ever-growing glory that is our database, we’ve got Morandi’s menu, too. We could tell you how tasty these Sicilian-inflected classics look, but why not just click through yourself?
Morandi Menu [NYM]
This Sunday, if all goes according to plan, Keith McNally will fling open the doors of Morandi, his new West Village trattoria. (See our opening announcement; here’s the menu.) Until then, there is pine to be varnished, Italian bread to be baked at Balthazar Bakery, and pasta to be rolled and stuffed by chef Jody Williams, with the fortuitous help of a McNally deputy’s visiting 80-year-old Bolognese mother. In the midst of the pre-opening chaos, Mr. McNally took some time to explain why the Brit who invented the New York breed of French brasserie is opening an Italian place in his own backyard.
This week’s magazine spans the world of food, from Anna Nicole’s refrigerator to Drew Neiporent’s latest big-box feeding hall, reviewed this week by Adam Platt. Rob and Robin write about one of the most buzzed-about openings of the season, and Gael Greene checks out Sam DeMarco’s Fireside. And to round it out, we take stock of what, if anything, the skinny types consumed during Fashion Week.
Details are starting to trickle through the strainer about the bevy program at Keith McNally’s new joint Morandi. As with McNally’s others, Dale DeGroff is training the bartenders, and we’ve heard that while the menu is likely to include concoctions like a bloody bull as well as rum and tequila drinks, chef Jody Williams has requested a special list of Prosecco cocktails that don’t contain spirits, liqueurs, or syrups (with the possible exceptions of honey and agave). Those drinks will consist solely of the sparkling wine, fresh fruit like pineapple, and muddled ingredients like basil and mint. “I was very influenced by Jody,” was all the King of Cocktails would tell us. Daniel Maurer
Related: Fall Preview: Keith McNally and Jody Williams
City Bakery's Maury Rubin employed CIA-worthy stealth tactics last winter to open Birdbath, his environmentally friendly, sustainably built organic bakery where the staff wears hemp and the walls are made from sunflower-seed husks. Now, though, with two new branches under way and more on the horizon, an expansionist-mode Rubin dispenses with the cloak-and-dagger routine. By January, he expects to open Birdbath No. 2 in a highly visible West Village location across McCarthy Square from Keith McNally's impending Morandi, at the corner of Seventh Avenue South and Charles Street, and next fall, the third outpost should materialize at the megagreen Riverhouse luxury-condominium project in Battery Park City. Besides keeping Manhattan well supplied with oversize chocolate-chip cookies and raspberry bran muffins, Rubin aims to align the organic ingredients in his food with the renewable, ecofriendly construction materials used to build the stores where it's sold. Learn more at buildagreenbakery.com.
— Rob Patronite and Robin RaisfeldMystery Muffins [NYM]