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Steve Cuozzo

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Hung to Cook in Midtown Kitchen; Chirico Pleads Not Guilty to Extortion

Top Chef winner Hung Huynh will begin a one-month stint at kosher restaurant Solo on March 2; Justin Smillie, formerly of Barbuto, has replaced Akhtar Nawab at the E.U. [NYT] Related: Akhtar Nawab to *NOT* Leave E.U., Will Open New Restaurant If you’re clamoring for a Valentine’s Day tablecloth dinner at White Castle, you still might be able to get one. [Eater] Master Purveyors will live on: The fire destroyed the offices, but the meat is still safe and sound in the warehouse. [Crain's NY] Related: Venerable Meat Purveyor Struck By Fire

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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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Critics Like Chop Suey Despite Themselves; One Star for Ilili

Frank Bruni awards one star to Ilili, establishing the restaurant’s critical reception as generally admiring but far from ardent. Bruni uses it as an occasion to discourse on the current trend of highlighting previously low-rent genres, but he seems to have liked all the food and not found the prices or noise too distracting. [NYT] Steve Cuozzo wanted to hate Chop Suey, he really did. The name was dumb, and he was skeptical of consulting chef Zak Pelaccio, whose “résumé of short-lived eatery associations … is as long as his list of bona fide accomplishments is short.” But he loved the food and its “bold, explosive” flavors. [NYP] Ryan Sutton also plays the “better than it has any right to be” card with Chop Suey, declaring the place as “jolting, gorgeous, frightening” and reluctantly praising its Korean-themed food. [Bloomberg]

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Calories to Show Up on Menus Starting March 31; Mercury Levels Horrifically High in Tuna Sushi

The Board of Health decided yesterday in a unanimous vote to make all chain restaurants with fifteen or more outlets – approximately 10 percent of the city’s restaurants – post calorie info on their menus starting March 31. RIP, 1,230-calorie triple Whopper with cheese. [CNN] Laboratory tests run on sushi samples from twenty Manhattan stores and restaurants revealed shockingly high levels of mercury in bluefin tuna, so high that the FDA could technically take the fish off the market. And if you’ve got to have your tuna sushi, you’d best head to Fairway and avoid Blue Ribbon Sushi at all costs. [NYT] Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl is “obsessed with” Momofuku Ssäm Bar, “like everyone else in New York,” according to her. [TONY]

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Demi and Ashton Not the Box's Favorite Patrons; PM Closing for January

Box owner Simon Hammerstein is happy one of his performers spilled a drink on Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher this week. [NYP] 2008 probably won’t be the year that sees the establishment of a large, indoor public market along the lines of London’s Borough Market or San Francisco’s farmer’s market. [NYT] Related: Batali Shows a Little Leg to Sex Up New Amsterdam Public Gael Greene puts forth her list of culinary predictions for the New Year, including this gem: “Jeffrey Chodorow and Frank Bruni will have a food fight in Madison Square Park televised by the Food Network. If Bruni loses he will be required to review restaurants in Des Moines for six months. If Chodorow is the loser he will be forbidden to open a new restaurant for three weeks.” [Insatiable Critic]

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A Hip-hop IHOP in Brooklyn; Grant Achatz Beats Cancer

Mary J. Blige and Foxy Brown’s producer, known to fans as Don Pooh, owns what is already being called the “hip-hop IHOP” that opened in downtown Brooklyn yesterday. [NYDN] Related: The Phantom IHOP of Midtown West Meatpaper magazine is a popular read with both carnivores and vegetarians, which is how the founders learned that bacon, delectable treat of treats, “is how vegetarians change their minds” when they revert to their meat-eating ways. [NYT] Today in unsubstantiated rumors: David Bouley’s forthcoming Japanese restaurant/cooking school will open across the street from Upstairs at Bouley. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine] Related: David Bouley to Open Restaurant With Japan’s Top Cooking School

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Ilili Makes An Enemy in Steve Cuozzo; Bruni Picks on Grayz

Though the food sounded pretty good at Ilili, the place treated Steve Cuozzo so badly that the Cuozz was forced to pay them back with an atomic review — one that sounds richly deserved. [NYP] In one of his silliest reviews, Frank Bruni goes on for half the article complaining that restaurants don't always fit in neat categories, then punishes Grayz for it with a blistering one-star review. Odd. [NYT] Bruni's mini-review in Dining Briefs is much more logical and succinct: “That’s Belcourt: the predictable made surprising; comfort with a wink.” Meanwhile, on the undercard, Peter Meehan was mostly pleased with Graffiti, despite its minute size, and Marian Burros not so happy with Lucy of Gramercy. [NYT]

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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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Pamplona Given a New Lease on Life; Bobo Hit Hard

Alex Ureña's somewhat mainstreamed restaurant, Pamplona, earns the catchall two-star rating from Frank Bruni — a great victory for them, since it legitimizes the restaurant and puts it on the solid footing it desperately needed. Bruni doesn't sound especially impressed, however: “His best dishes are more than memorable enough to redeem Pamplona’s shortcomings.” Well, that's good! [NYT] Critics tend to like writing about restaurants that fail badly in one way (such as the food) while succeeding in another, less important way (such as the room). That disjunction gives Danyelle Freeman free rein to jump with both feet onto Bobo. [NYDN] Randall Lane checks in on the two newly opened Mexican restaurants, Toloache and Los Dados and likes them both okay, but he has changed his ways and is now throwing around stars like they were manhole covers: three (of six) for Toloache, home of the famous grasshopper taco, and two for meatpacking trendhole Los Dados. [TONY]

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Big Dreams for Chodorow's Next Showstopper; Perv Attacking Women Outside the Box

Cuozzo fantasizes about the possible successes Jeffrey Chodorow could develop if he signs a lease on the enormous space at Broadway and 63rd Street. They include stellar risotto, traditional dim sum, and haute Lebanese — if only he doesn’t “blow it on another howler like Rocco’s or a limping dud like Kobe Club.” [NYP] A Queens dumpling celebrity, a chef in northern China before transplanting to the U.S., has been persuaded to supply her specialty to TKettle on St. Marks Place. Get there early, though; she’s only agreed to hand-make 1,000 per day for the bubble-tea shop. [Eat for Victory/VV] Two young female patrons of the Box have been abducted from outside the club and raped on separate occasions in less than a month, and the predator has not been apprehended. [NYP]

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It Isn't Easy Being Green; Grayz on the Stun Line

There are a few basic steps that restaurants and bars can follow to be considered “green,” but they don't happen automatically.[TONY] Steve Cuozzo leads Gray Kunz’s new cash cow to the slaughter, calling Grayz a draw “for suits wanting a slicker sandbox for babe-wrangling than nearby Connolly’s.” [NYP] Related: Gray Kunz Finds a Sweet New Business Model The Frankies of Spuntino fame have a third restaurant planned in Brooklyn and a new cookbook on the way. [Eater]

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The Box Back in Action; Smith & Wollensky Sold at Last

The Box is back in action and even hosted a corporate event last night for Virgin America airline, clearly meant to bring the venue one step closer to becoming a "cultural institution." [Down by the Hipster] The $94.7 million sale of New York–based Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, which includes Quality Meats and Park Avenue Summer, to the national corporation Patina has been finalized, but there's still no word on a timetable for Park Avenue's fall makeover. [Nation's Restaurant News] Related: The Secrets of Steakhouse Riches Is Top Chef’s Brian into threesomes? Of the kind less celebrated in popular culture? [Amuse Biatch]

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Tailor Open; Marcus Samuelsson in Cahoots With Starbucks

Put down your roman à clef! Tailor had its soft opening last night. [Down by the Hipster] Related: What to Read While You Wait for Tailor to Open — Sam Mason: The Novel Five recipes from Marcus Samuelsson's cookbook Discovery of a Continent: Foods, Flavors and Inspirations from Africa were developed by a team from Starbucks as part of a deal that also includes the introduction of baked items and coffee blends sold under the chef's name. [Eat for Victory/VV] The closing of Dévi makes Frank Bruni sad, and in his elegy to the restaurant, he ponders our take on Suvir Saran's motives. [Diner's Journal/NYT] Related: Debriefing Dévi: Suvir Saran’s Suspected Side Projects

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Cuozzo Likes Wakiya; Bruni, Platt Agree on Rayuela

Steve Cuozzo bucks the early bad buzz on Wakiya, praising the place but cautioning that the chef will only be around one week a month. [NYP] Related: We Catch Wakiya’s First Guests on the Street Alan Richman submits a rare rave review for Soto, saying of its hot dishes “not one was less than wonderful. This is cooked food on a par with the most ingenious in New York.” Soto-san has to be pretty happy with that. [Bloomberg] Restaurant Girl’s debut in the Daily News takes the form of a mixed review on Gemma: She liked the branzino and the atmosphere, the other dishes not so much. Nothing in the write-up suggests that they were unduly influenced by knowing who she was. [NYDN] Related: Restaurant Girl Has a Face For Reviewing

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Monkey Bar Gets Hit; Three Stars for Café Boulud

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]

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Red Hook Vendors on the Run Again; Bourdain on ‘Top Chef’

With the Parks Department temporarily off their back, the Red Hook food vendors now have a new enemy: the ever-mischievous Department of Health. [Serious Eats] Related: The Threat to Red Hook’s Street-Food Paradise Unites New York Foodies Anthony Bourdain doesn’t have any sympathy for last night’s Top Chef loser, Sara: “I've worked with women cooks who could crank out a hundred fifty meals off a very busy grill station in freakin’ stilettos and still have the energy to give Howie the beating of his life — so that don't cut it as an excuse.” Bonus: Bourdain on Rocco’s career arc. [Bravo] Related: Joey, Latest ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner, on Why Rocco Is a Douche Bag The hidden food treasures of the Bronx range from an ancient candy store where you can get a classic egg cream to a Chino-Latino place with great shrimp mofungo. [NYP]

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Hill Country Triumphs; Perilla Gets Measured Praise, Three Times Over

Peter Meehan hails Hill Country as the barbecue to beat in New York, at least as far as beef is concerned: “[The deckle brisket] is a thing of balance and of beauty.” [NYT] As much as Meehan liked the place, Steve Cuozzo may like it even more, not hesitating to crown it New York’s best: “Lots of New York places now claim to have ‘real’ barbecue, and some truly do. But until they catch up with Hill Country, they’re just blowing smoke.” [NYP] 15 East feels the glow of two-star approval, especially for its star octopus. Ushiwakamaru, though not as good, is cheaper, and that’s worth something. [NYT]

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Insieme Lauded (Except for Lasagne); Landmarc Squeaks By

The Times finds Provence beautiful, romantic, and well-intentioned, but barely worthy of a single star. A major disappointment for the Marc Meyer/Vicki Freeman team, who had been on a roll with Five Points and Cookshop. [NYT] In the Post, Steve Cuozzo — judiciously taking the long-term view as usual — makes the case that Amalia, FR.OG, and Insieme, “the best new Italian restaurant since L’Impero,” have overcome weak starts to become some of the city’s strongest places. [NYP] Paul Adams gives yet another admiring review to Insieme, though he found the much-praised lasagne underflavored and disappointing. His favorite dish: a chamomile farfalle. [NYS]

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Cuozzo Hammers the Shake Shack; Much Hodgson Love for Insieme

Steve Cuozzo uses his bully pulpit in the Post to come down hard on the Shake Shack, calling the place out for insanely long lines and “a hamburger that’s an also-ran at best.” [NYP] Related: Kyle Dureau Wants Shake Shack to Be Open 24/7 As Much As You Do [Grub Street] Having weathered a major two-star review by Adam Platt, Insieme finally gets its first three-star one, from Moira Hodgson, who is impressed by how perfectly executed every dish is, lavishing special praise on one of the place’s more overlooked features, co-owner Paul Grieco’s wine list. [NYO] Related: Italian, Old and New [NYM] The Times gives Katz’s the full Frank Bruni treatment, and the place comes out of it with one star, much loving description, and an eerie semi-confirmation of our earlier report that the place might be sold. [NYT] Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s? [Grub Street]

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Yep, 66 Going Soba; Trans Fats on the Run in Long Island

66 will become Matsu Gen in “late spring” and specialize in soba noodles. [NYT] Related: Vongerichten May Deep-Six 66, Serve Sushi and Soba Instead [Grub Street] Landmarc, in the Time Warner Center, is wildly inexpensive relative to its location and the restaurants around it, and Steve Cuozzo is predicting boffo business. [NYP] Related: Will Landmarc's Downtown Cool Play Alongside Its Ritzy New Neighbors? [Grub Street] Think you'll get your lard fix in Long Island? Not so fast: Nassau County is planning a trans-fat ban. [Newsday]

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