Bruni Sees Aldea As ‘Something of a Deal’; Freeman and Sutton Approve of Locanda Verde

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At Aldea, George Mendess cooking is precious, lusty, ultramodern, rustic and a host of other adjectives that dont normally squeeze together but find themselves in a tight, mostly happy clutch here, writes Frank Bruni in an approving review. [NYT]
Related: Aldeas Menu, Illustrated
First Look at George Mendess Aldea

Mendes has become a formidable technician whose only weakness might be trying a little too hard, agrees Alan Richman. [GQ]

The transformation of Ago into Locanda Verde was a very successful exorcism, writes Danyelle Freeman. Andrew Carmellini has a knack for making hearty foods somehow taste light and summery. [NYDN]
Related: A Closer Look Inside Andrew Carmellinis Locanda Verde
Take Two: Q With Robert De Niro [NYM]

Both Carmellini and owner Robert De Niro have loosened up at Locanda Verde, which feels less about regional Italian fare in the traditional sense and more about Italian-American fare in the modern sense, says Ryan Sutton. [Bloomberg]

Table 8 commits so many sins against good taste, the West Coast star may have been hoping critics would somehow overlook his arrival, writes Jay Cheshes in another stinging review for newcomer chef Govind Armstrong. [TONY]
Related: Inside Table 8

Benoit is better than when it opened, declares Steve Cuozzo. Executive chef/partner Pierre Schaedelin has modernized the menu and mostly tamed the kitchens errant ways. [NYP]

While the menu may fly off on conceptual tangents, [Watty & Meg] remains a neighborhood bistro at heart, and a decent one at that, concludes Robert Sietsema, even though his friend thinks the name sounds like a pair of storm-tossed orphans in a Truffaut film. [VV]

Gael Greene files three reviews this week: On the Upper West Side, shes instantly charmed by the romance of bare brick and filament light bulbs at the French-accented Recipe, and Blue Water Grill alum Shawn Dalziel is cooking great Thai food at Land a few blocks away. Quinto Quarto in the West Village is so reasonably priced It doesnt have to be great. Good enough will do. [Insatiable Critic]