This week’s juiciest bit of celeb-sighting gossip was, of course, the Post’s report that after a performer dumped a drink on Demi and Ashton, Box honcho Simon Hammerstein sent an e-mail to his partner and a GM saying, “I can’t stand those two” — apparently because they’re “so far up their own arses” and “don’t spend anything” — “and I applaud whoever spilt a drink on them.” We’re thinking Kid Rock got kinder treatment when he went to Southern Hospitality, or there would’ve been a Tommy Lee–style throwdown.
Frank Bruni complains about the steak, the service, the sides, and the salad at Peter Luger but caves and hands it two stars. [NYT]
Restaurant Girl gives Elio’s two and a half stars, citing its “charming lure of old-world” Italian, code for a menu that has barely changed in 26 years. [NYDN]
Alan Richman visits Il Mulino and in crushing it strikes a blow against “this style of oversized, oversauced, overcooked cuisine” with all the force he can muster. [Bloomberg]
Frank Bruni gives Bar Stuzzichini one star, praising its small plates (which give him his obligatory Zeitgeist paragraphs at the top) and then pointing out that the room and service are basically that of a “midtown mess hall.” The moral? Aim low, price right, and execute, and the critics will give you the guarded praise you need to stay open. [NYT]
Here's one we never would have predicted in a million years: Insieme getting the panegyric it deserves from Robert “horsehead soup in the Bronx” Sietsema. Interestingly, the one thing he didn't like was the lasagne, which was the place's proudest boast when it first opened. [VV]
We predicted recently that it was just a matter of time before someone came down on Wakiya, but we never dreamed it would be Danyelle Freeman. She hits the place hard, mostly for the “dull” and “skimpy” food but, not a killer at heart, gives them credit for service, cocktails, and soup dumplings. But it won't be long before another, meaner critic really lets it fly. [NYND]
Arkansas native Allison McDaniel felt right at home when she started work at Justin Timberlake’s buzzy barbecue joint Southern Hospitality. Not only did she join a wait staff of fellow southern belles, but she was right across the street from Brother Jimmy’s, where she waited tables for three years. “There was a vibe of rivalry when we first opened,” McDaniel tells us in her southern drawl, but these days her former co-workers at Jimmy’s happily spill in to gawk at celebrities like Tommy Lee. We asked McDaniel about serving the man himself, and how to thwart the haters.
Franny’s is the recipient of one of Frank Bruni’s periodic low-end caprices, and gets awarded an absurd two stars as a result. [NYT]
Paul Lukas, a pretty serious student of barbecue, delivers the verdict on the new barbecues, and the surprise is that Southern Hospitality has some pretty damn good Memphis ribs. Hill Country, it goes without saying, gets lauded as the best BBQ in town. [NYS]
Related: Insatiable Critic: Southern Hospitality
“Rivulets of delicious grease are a common theme” is the key note to Paul Adams's review of Borough Food and Drink. Mmmm grease . [NYS]
We often check into Ils Vont, the newish Website that tracks celeb sightings at local eateries, to see where Jeremy Piven is chewing out his mom these days (actually, that happened at Nobu Malibu). Imagine our surprise when we saw that last week, Southern Hospitality overtook the Waverly Inn as the most celeb-infested restaurant in town. Given that Gael Greene, during her recent visit to Justin’s, saw little more than “a clutch of babes pretending to eat [and] an army of guys sucking beer from the bottle,” we can only conclude the place’s flack is milking those occasional boy-band drop-ins for all they’re worth which kind of belies owner Eytan Sugarman’s pre-opening statement, “We’re not trying to be trendy.” Not you, maybe. But your publicist just might be.
Ils Vont [Official site]
Insatiable Critic: Southern Hospitality [NYM]
In an effort to change its image as an “upscale Hooters,” Hawaiian Tropic Zone is hiring a beefy male staff "with personality." [NYDN]
Does Sam Mason need a new financial backer to open Tailor? Those delays cost major cash. [Down by the Hipster]
China has formed a cabinet-level committee to monitor food safety but still calls the national coverage of tainted exports “viciously sensationalized.” [NYT]
This week brings together some disparate threads of the great suffocating quilt that is the New York food world. Modern Spanish and Latin food have almost nothing in common, other than, in the form of Suba and Rayuela, getting one star each from Adam Platt. Uptown Gael Greene rocks out Southern Hospitality. Downtown, Rob and Robin find a chef that knows all there is to know about the frying game and discover what’s happened to restaurant matchbooks in these days of the smoking ban. Plus, Kirby cucumbers are in season this week.
Paul Adams liked some things about Monkey Bar, but it’s never a good sign if you hire a famous Chinese chef (Patricia Yeo) and the review includes the words “My neighborhood Chinese takeout does better dumplings.” [NYS]
Café Boulud, in an important rereview, gets three stars enough to add momentum to Daniel Boulud’s empire building. [NYT]
Insieme looks dull, observes Lauren Collins in The New Yorker, but “profligate flavor and spirited service” show themselves once the food starts coming. [NYer]
Crashers like Shaggy and Steve Sands — not to mention token entertainer the Singing Cowboy — may have thought the place to be last night was the opening party for Johnny Utah’s (where the bull overheated halfway through, kicking up a stench that caused us to wonder whether someone’s hair had caught on fire), but as we mentioned earlier, we were more excited about crashing a secret dinner at another barbecue spot, Justin Timberlake’s decidedly lower-key Southern Hospitality.
Last night we sneaked into a friends and family dinner, ahead of today’s glitzy opening party, at Southern Hospitality, Justin Timberlake’s restaurant that we broke news of back when Sir James Famularo brokered the deal in April. We can confirm that the barbecue is at least good enough for JT, who, as our amateur paparazzi work shows, was tucked into a booth with his partner Eytan Sugarman, owner of Suede and Cherry Lounge. From behind our margarita glass, we couldn’t tell whether he was devouring the fried “pickle-sicles” or the haystack onion rings — a plate of fried onions piled higher than Marge Simpson’s hair. But we’ll post the menu and another exclusive interior shot later today so you can use your imagination.
A couple of weeks ago we informed you that a mystery Grammy performer had just closed a deal to open a restaurant in the former home of Il Monello. Now we can tell you that man is none other than Justin Timberlake. According to the exclusive broker for both sides, James Famularo of NYCRS, the Tennessee boy plans to open what’s described as a laid-back, festive barbecue joint called Southern Hospitality. As with his first restaurant Destino, the shaved showman will partner with Eytan Sugarman, owner of bygone clubs Suede and producer Timbaland’s Harlem venture Cherry Lounge. Famularo says that Timberlake will have a larger stake in the new place: “I heard a lot of people with Tennessee accents,” he said of a recent drop-in. “Justin is bringing a lot of his group up to be a part of this.” If all goes as planned, the opening will coincide with the conclusion of the FutureSex/LoveSounds tour in late April. Daniel MaurerEarlier:Mystery Grammy Performer Set to Rock the Upper East Side