Babbo Tops Zagat Italian List, Followed by RelicsWe’re not surprised that Babbo is the city’s top Italian restaurant, according to Zagat’s new America’s 1,000 Top Italian Restaurants book — its popularity alone is enough, in Zagat-land, to ensure yearly dominance. And in fact, Babbo is a wonderful restaurant, four stars by our lights, and justly beloved. But if you had any doubt how unreliable the Zagat surveyors are, just check out number two: Village relic Il Mulino! Now, don’t get us wrong: Il Mulino is a fine restaurant and uses very expensive ingredients to good effect. The tuxedoed wait staff are as servile as ever. But it should be the second-most-popular Italian restaurant of 1958. Haven’t the matrons of Secaucus ever heard of A Voce? Or
The Other Critics
Bruni Maintains Luger’s Middling Reputation; Bar Fry’s Tempura More Varied ThanFrank Bruni complains about the steak, the service, the sides, and the salad at Peter Luger but caves and hands it two stars. [NYT]
Restaurant Girl gives Elio’s two and a half stars, citing its “charming lure of old-world” Italian, code for a menu that has barely changed in 26 years. [NYDN]
Alan Richman visits Il Mulino and in crushing it strikes a blow against “this style of oversized, oversauced, overcooked cuisine” with all the force he can muster. [Bloomberg]
The New York Diet
Restaurateur Donatella Arpaia Binges on Oysters and Snacks on Hot Pockets
There’s no other restaurateur quite like Donatella Arpaia of Dona and davidburke & donatella: She was the first to zip around town on a Vespa (“Everyone else copied me”) and, leaving aside her discerning palate, we’re quite certain she’s the only one food writers have characterized as “comely.” Between Friday, September 29, and Wednesday, October 4, she indulged in a singular combination of sea urchin, fat-free yogurt, and black-and-white cookies.