Sifton, Cheshes, Sutton Navigate Faustina; Richman Samples Despaña

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Despite offering "mostly excellent" cooking, including "what may be the city’s best pork chop," Sam Sifton finds the experience of Faustina to be undercut by the confusing menu — not to mention the restaurant itself: "No matter the meal, you will eat it uncomfortably, in a tough concrete dining room that juts off a large bar crowded with tall tables, in what is unmistakably an institutional setting." [NYT]
Earlier: Faustina's Menu, Illustrated

Also at Faustina, Jay Cheshes is similarly concerned by the menu, where he finds portion sizes "all over the map" and "a disjointed mix of standard weary-traveler fare and extravagant auteur cuisine." Though they're all good, "the side-by-side clash of hot and cold, refined and rustic, benefited none of them." [TONY]

"People crowd Scott Conant’s restaurants for many reasons, all of which elude me," says Ryan Sutton of his Faustina experience. He likes the idea of adding fried chicken and burgers to an Italian menu, but "Conant just needs to make a better case for these dishes." [Bloomberg]

"The overwrought ego trip that is Colicchio & Sons illustrates the risk of straying too far from one’s core business for too long," says Steve Cuozzo. The "tortuously composed, globally complexioned dishes" and jarring atmosphere are a serious disappointment: "It’s hard to believe he’s the same guy who once exalted simplicity at Craft." [NYP]

Andrea Thompson visits Roman's, which has "the happy hecticness of a house party." The intentionally simple preparations work, for the most part, and give rise to "a sense that you could come back often and rarely get bored, if never exactly excited." [NYer]

Uncomfortable seating at Pulino's isn't enough to keep Gael Greene away from the scene: "Your derrière may be ready to leave but your brain wants to stay and watch the drama." And there's the edible part, too: "I like a lot of this odd, original food," she says. [Insatiable Critic]

Alan Richman checks out the recently expanded Despaña, where "sometimes [the food is] gorgeously rustic, but it can also be weird." Despite friendly staff, the real problem to be solved is one of inefficiency: "All that’s required for Despaña to become one of the most appealing sandwich-and-small-plate eating spots in Manhattan is a service reorganization." [Forked & Corked/GQ]

The formal dining room at Queens Portuguese stalward O Lavrador "has all the charm of a mausoleum," says Robert Sietsema. He advises going to the restaurant's more convivial bar, where along with the dining-room menu you'll find that "the chalkboard menu always lists at least two or three things likely to make your mouth water." [VV]