A Star Swap for Alto & L’Impero; No Amore for Richman at Fiamma

The Times verdict is in on Alto and LImpero, and its the expected three and two stars, respectively. Lost in the Alto upgrade is the hard fact that LImpero now enters the dreaded two-star limbo into which Frank Bruni puts any place neither transcendent nor mediocre. Personally, we would have had it at four and three. [NYT]

Alan Richman admires the new Fiamma (former home to Mike White) in a cool and distant way, finding the food busy and not at all Italian, although not exactly lousy by any means. No one will read this review and want to spend money to eat at Fiamma. [Bloomberg]

On the other hand, Restaurant Girls three-star review reads like a perfume ad, its so loving: Like an artist, he paints deeply flavored ragu onto a pappardelle canvas, finished with tender ribbons of venison. Ew! But Steve Hanson must be happy. [NYDN]

Peter Meehan is struck by the thunderbolt at El Quinto Pino, especially by the sea-urchin sandwich (which likewise bewitched the Underground Gourmet): The combination is so simple, so balanced, so arresting, it could be a classic lost to time, rediscovered by Ms. Raij in a secluded Spanish cove. Meehan even goes so far as to anoint it the citys truest tapas bar. [NYT]
Related: The Cutest Sea-Urchin-Egg Sandwich Ever at El Quinto Pino

The New Yorkers Andrea Thompson likes the place too, but in a much vaguer, less enthusiastic way. [NYer]

The always discerning Paul Adams essays Spitzers Corner and gets across that the food is good but technically flawed in small but important ways. Here he is on the hamburger: There's a burger ($13), ground from flavorful short ribs, smokily grilled, and served on a roll that's too hard, so that each bite pushes the meat out the back end of the resistant sandwich. Exactly so! [NYS]

Perhaps taking recent criticism that hes been throwing too many stars around, Randall Five Stars Lane submits one of his most entertaining recent reviews on Pamplona, Alex Ureas rejiggered midtown Spanish restaurant. The burger is a brick of oily chili, and the suckling pig a tiny portion of soft, fatty skin and dry, dull meat. So only three stars for Pamplona! [TONY]

Bocca, a new Roman restaurant from the creators of Cacio e Pepe, gets a positive Sietsema review, but hes never completely convincing when writing about nonThird World food, and the review is strangely larded with random reflections on Italian culture. The bottom line is the place doesnt sound that great. [VV]

Ryan Sutton gets in first on Allen & Delancey and makes it sound very good and very interesting the very building blocks of buzz. [Bloomberg]