The mood at Eataly last night was doubly celebratory, as revelers toasted Epicurious, whose fifteenth anniversary was the reason for the party, as well as Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, whose now-famous four-star review for Del Posto is still the hot topic. We asked Batali if he ever caught Sam Sifton while he was in the house in the course of reviewing. "No, of course not," he said with a wink and a nod. "I was in the kitchen the whole time; I really don’t know who’s there." Bastianich was less subtle, admitting that he spied the not-really-that-anonymous critic, but he never approached him. "I try to respect his anonymity," he explained. As for the review, he’s over the moon: "It’s the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life. For someone like me, it’s the culmination of a lifetime of work and a multi-generational evolution. My parents come here as immigrants 50 years ago from Italy; to be the first four-star Italian restaurant, it’s amazing.”
Now that the matter of Del Posto’s stars has been settled, the other burning question on chefs’ minds is one of Michelin stars. The annual guide’s 2011 edition comes out Wednesday, and speculation is running wild — particularly about the restaurant of the hour. "Del Posto was two stars, and then last year they took a star away," explained Drew Nieporent. "I hope, for them, they get their star back." As for his own main Michelin contender, Corton, Nieporent is a little jittery about holding on to his two stars, but not quite as nervous as we might have expected. "There’s a little-known fact, but before Michelin came to America, I was the only American restaurateur with a Michelin star," he told us, pointing to a brochure for Nobu London. "Alain Ducasse of course had a lot of Michelin stars, but he’s not American; he’s French."
After an extended, post-kitchen-fire hiatus, Anita Lo’s restaurant, Annisa, is also a big question mark for this year’s guide. The revamped spot has been overwhelmingly positively received by critics (our own Adam Platt said it "strikes that delicate (and increasingly rare) balance between modern style, classic technique, and pure, old-fashioned gourmet pleasure"), but that doesn’t mean Lo isn’t nervous. "I’m always scared, you know?" she said. "Maybe you have one little off day. We’ve retained our stars since the inception [of Annisa], and knock on wood, we’ll hold on to them."