Neroni Signed His Own Checks and Is Back on the Street for Now, Source ClaimsSome possible clarification on the arrest of ex-Porchetta chef Jason Neroni for larceny has come our way, courtesy of the restaurant’s former publicist Steve Hall. According to Hall, Neroni claims that he merely signed his own check, something he has done many times. But owner Marco Rivero doesn’t see it that way, hence Neroni’s arrest for petit larceny. Neroni has, Hall claims, been released from custody. However, as Hall’s full letter indicates, the Neroni saga is far from over.
Jason Neroni Arrested, Taken Into CustodyJason Neroni, as we suggested might happen, has been arrested and charged. At last word, he was cooling his heels in the 76th Precinct. [Gawker]
Earlier: Neroni Is Indeed Free — for a Few Days, Anyway
The Department of Health’s crackdowns have cost the industry millions, claims the New York Restaurant Association. [NYP]
The Shake Shack was only the beginning: The New York hamburger now has to be natural, ethical, and very, very good to compete in a crowded landscape. [NYDN]
Neroni Is Indeed Free — for a Few Days, AnywayJason Neroni says he’s innocent of the charges leveled at him by the owner of Porchetta, Marco Rivero — he accused the Desperate Chef of misappropriation of funds and said there was a warrant out for his arrest — and earlier today Gawker confirmed that no such warrant exists. Here’s the latest: “I just came back from the police,” Rivero tells us, “and they said it takes a few days before the warrant can go into effect. The detectives want to check into something with both banks … but I don’t want to say too much.” We’ll see if the police report actually surfaces. We hope Neroni is planning his defense and not any more press releases. Rivero sounds like he means business.
Jason Neroni Considering Action Against Former Employer [Gawker]
Is There a Warrant Out on Jason Neroni?The owner of Porchetta claims that not only was Jason Neroni fired but that the termination was for misappropriation of funds — and there’s a warrant out for his arrest. (If so, the Desperate Chef is hiding in plain sight, as we just saw him last night at the TONY awards.) [Eater]
Nearly everyone got an award at last night’s Time Out New York food awards, including Per Se for Best Splurge and A Voce for New Restaurant of the Year. But the Russian Tea Room for Best Reopening? Those manipulated blurbs must be working. [TONY]
Talk about gross dereliction: The Department of Health, it turns out, ignored complaints about that KFC–Taco Bell for two months before sending an inspector — who did such a bad job that she would have been fired had she not just quit. [NYP]
Neroni Gives Lame Reason for Leaving PorchettaNeroni’s reason for leaving Porchetta: They wanted to open for lunch and start serving sandwiches. And here we thought he was a prima donna. [Eat for Victory/VV]
The Russian Tea Room, taking a page from straight-to-DVD movies, pulls misleading blurbs from bad reviews to try to get some desperately-needed positive press. [Page Six]
Sullivan Street Bakery’s Jim Lahey is said to be opening a pizzeria in Chelsea. [Food and Wine]
Neroni Leaves Porchetta; City Hates Big Pink CupcakeChef Jason Neroni leaves Porchetta, citing “irreconcilable differences,” and claiming that pastry chef Mandy Brown and “most of the kitchen staff” are leaving with him. We don’t know the details (yet), but this seems pretty harsh: The restaurant gave him absolute creative license, as far as we can tell, for as long as it’s been open. [Eater]
Related: Chef’s Desperate Plea: Nominate Me for an Award! [Grub Street]
New Yorkers aren’t really spooked by health violations: “If you take the subway, you know what’s down there.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
The city wants Burgers and Cupcakes to take down its huge, incandescent pink cupcake sign because it’s too close to a hydrant, saying, “This isn’t a campaign against cupcakes.” [NYP]
Back of the House
Time to Fill Out Our James Beard BracketsThe nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant industry, will be announced Monday morning. We’ll report on that as it happens, but for now, here are picks for the main categories from Adam Platt, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, and Josh Ozersky. Our choices are admittedly New York–centric (the awards go to restaurants across the country), but the ceremony is held here, and the city always looms large in the proceedings.
The Other Critics
Bruni Meets Neroni; Another Blah Review for RamsayMaking sure to mention chef Jason Neroni’s desperate call for Beard nominations — the one revealed on Grub Street — Bruni gives Porchetta a single star and calls Neroni “overly insistent.” [NYT]
In all-tofu dessert spot Kyotofu, Meehan finds a pudding paradise. Though he issues some of the most enthusiastic praise we’ve heard from him lately, he also cautions that the savory dishes are just “perfunctory.” [NYT]
Wobbly tables don’t get in the way of Paul Adams’s appreciation of new Soho Moroccan joint Babouche. [NYS]
Cuozzo loves Pera, makes it sound as if it’s the first-ever high-end Turkish restaurant. Orhan Yegan of Divane and Beyoglu must have steam coming out of his ears. [NYP]
Sietsema rarely meets a barbecue he doesn’t like, and Brooklyn’s Smoke Joint proves no exception. The evil Cookshack smoker, condemned in our 2006 wish list, makes a cameo appearance. [VV]
Randall Lane delivers yet another approving but ultimately unenthusiastic review of the “impeccable, if clinical” Gordon Ramsay. The Brit just can’t win! [TONY]
Related: Gordon Ramsay, Gay Icon
The Other Critics
Debacle at the Russian Tea Room; Neroni Wins a RaveThe Russian Tea Room must be sorry they hassled Frank Bruni over a bottle of wine. [NYT]
Peter Meehan finds the ribs at the Smoke Joint “passable.” [NYT]
A rave for Grub Street pen pal Jason Neroni at Porchetta — “thought-provoking but mouthwatering as well.” [NYS]
Not a review, strictly speaking, but Cuozzo slams Varietal for their use of a toxic bean, finds the wine list “heavy on obscure and mediocre selections, like sour-tasting Tasmanian pinot noir.” [NYP]
Best sardines ever at Brooklyn’s Sample, “a geography class for gourmands.” [NYDN]
Chez Lola is an “incredibly sexy, glamorous and inventive melding of an art deco bar and eclectic antique shop,” and the food is pretty good too. [New York Press]
Jason Neroni Breaks His Silence on Being a ‘Desperate Chef’We got an e-mail today, and not a happy one at that, from Jason Neroni, the young chef outed by Gawker as the author of an e-mail urgently soliciting Beard Award nominations. We released the missive last week, under the headline “Chef’s Desperate Plea: Nominate Me for an Award!”
What did he have to say?
Back of the House
Andrea Strong on Reproduction, Grits; Internet Buying for FoodiesAndrea Strong and entourage dine at Porchetta: “If I ever reproduce, I am considering naming my kids pancetta, ricotta and egg.” [The Strong Buzz]
Strong, in her non-blogging capacity at the Post, surveys grits in New York. [NYP]
The Daily News lays out a no-frills Internet shopping guide for foodies. [NYDN]
Restaurant Girl hits Klee Brasserie and Ramsay’s London Bar. [Restaurant Girl]
Bruni essays the Waverly Inn’s “coy and misleading” soft-opening pantomime. [NYT]
Leuzzi passes along a pro–foie gras manifesto, pretends to be impartial, though her readers no doubt know where her sympathies lie. [Snack]
A Restaurant Revolution on Smith Street?The stardust is already beginning to descend on new Brooklyn restaurant Porchetta and, in particular, its last-minute chef Jason Neroni. There are excited whispers among the foodies we know, an anonymous Eater post praising his early output, and numerous big-time chefs with plans to check the place out. (As for small fries like us, we’re going on Friday.) That’s all part of the game, of course, and no guarantee that the place will be making money a year from now. But if Neroni matches his aspirations, we’re fully expecting a restaurant-world shake-up.
Back of the House
Envelope-Pushing Chef Resurfaces in Carroll GardensJason Neroni is the talented young chef who succeeded Wylie Dufresne at 71 Clinton Fresh Food when the latter started wd-50. 71 Clinton Fresh Food was a huge success critically, but Neroni seemingly disappeared when the restaurant went under in March. After a spell doing the chef-spokesman thing for Glaceau water and then surfing in his home state of California, he recently returned to New York and got a job. Last week, he began presenting his very imaginative take on Italian cuisine at Porchetta, a new restaurant in Carroll Gardens. On the menu: nutmeg gnocchi with a straight pomodoro sauce, chicken-liver terrine with fig marmalade and a pistachio crumble, and deep-fried pork belly with a dried-fruit mostarda and melted cauliflower. Smith Street hasn’t seen anything quite like this.
241 Smith St., nr. Douglass St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; 718-237-9100