781 Fifth Ave.
The revolving door propels you into a room devoid of welcome if your face is new. The table you’re escorted to by a maître d’ who never looks you in the eye was engineered for Munchkins. The waiter recites “specials,” but it’s the same old stuff: veal pounded into oblivion, gnocchi like handballs, chicken you have to baste with your wine to swallow, and risotto that could seal dentures. And to help you enjoy all this, the haughty captain in a suit too tight hands you a stained, polyester blazer if you arrive without one. But he’s awfully nice to women wearing big jewelry. It’s nothing like Venice.
386 Flatbush Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn
May our Brooklyn-born ancestors forgive us, but any side-by-side comparison of the QVC-hawked commodity with superior homegrown versions reveals a texture that is too dense, and unpleasantly chalky, and a cloyingly sweet, unsettlingly artificial flavor that insults the designation “New York–style.” Top it off—or, on second thought, don’t—with alleged fruit toppings like glow-in-the-dark pineapple or strawberry, and line it with a thin layer of characterless sponge cake that serves no apparent structural or flavor function. The upper crust? Not really.
—Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld