The Other Critics

Shockey Says Hop the L to Forcella; Sifton Finds St. Anselm ‘Charming’

“Does the nation’s capital of artisanal bitters really need another nostalgia-soaked outpost for herb muddling?” asks “Tables for Two.” After visiting the “pitch-perfect” Maison Premiere, “the answer is absolutely.” The “convincing” decor feels straight out of “the Belle Epoque scene” from Midnight in Paris. Raw oysters are the stars here: Patrons can choose from over 33 kinds. Those wary of uncooked foods have a few options, too: “succulent” chilled lobster, crab legs, “and a shrimp cocktail worth ordering just for the addictive kick of its sauce.” As for liquids, try the Clover Club, the French 75, and the absinthe-soaked Lafitte’s Swizzle for a truly “utopian” experience. [NYer]

Lauren Shockey discovers the “unusual celebration of caloric excess” that is fried pizza at Forcella, for which one should “hop the L to Brooklyn, pronto.” Make sure to order the montanara fritte, a red-sauce-and-mozzarella “pie of symphonic textures … unlike any you’ve had before.” For those who can’t stomach the extra calories, she recommends the more traditional, non-fried materdei (“topped with spicy salami”) or the marinara (“simplicity at work”). The desserts are skippable, and choose red pizzas over the white ones, “which often fall flat on flavor.” [VV]

Sam Sifton awards one star to Williamsburg’s St. Anselm, which bears “a pulsing bass line of ambition beneath its simple steakhouse melody.” The iceberg salad with warm bacon vinaigrette “is among the great things to eat on the north side of Williamsburg,” but what you’re really here for is the meat. The mutton chop is “robust” and “exciting,” the butcher’s steak “is a joy,” and the bourbon-brined pork chop “is as purely American as corn waving in a Tennessee field.” Seafood isn’t ignored, either: A whole mackerel is “Branzino 2.0,” and the “sweet and smoky” grilled scallops are a success. Desserts “get the short shrift,” as does service, but the “affordable steakhouse” is, overall, “charming.” [NYT]
Related: Steakhouse Undercover [NYM]

Robert Sietsema adventures to Elmhurst to visit the recently overhauled Taiwanese Specialties. Offal features prominently on the menu: “Nothing beats x.o. with deduction fish sauce,” which turns out to be “a plate heaped with a hundred rubbery, muscular fish stomachs,” or the meatball appetizer, “a massive dome of unexpectedly delicious quivering goo, shot with tidbits of pickle, pork, and dried bean curd in a sweet red gravy.” However, “there’s plenty to be had besides offal,” from the Momofuku-like pork belly sandwiches to the “legendary” three-cup chicken (an off-menu item — just ask for it). [VV]

Gael Greene enjoys a “mostly” wonderful dinner at Wong. She’s “hooked” on the “luscious” shrimp fritters, egg foo young, Hakka pork belly with “marvelous little taro root tater tots,” and creamed corn that is “the essence of summer.” “The only disappointment” is the Vietnamese pizza, which tasted “not quite cooked.” Still, the memories of the meal have “haunted” the critic all week, and she “can’t wait to go back.” [Insatiable Critic]

At the Feast of San Gennaro, “the food has undergone a transfiguration, at least at the north end of the fair, just below Prince Street,” writes Ligaya Mishan, thanks to the guys behind Torrisi Italian Specialties, who have brought together highlights from some of the best chefs in town. There’s a roast pork slider from April Bloomfield that “reeks enticingly of sin,” a “sublime” short-rib sandwich from Wylie Dufresne’s father that can only be described as “Philly cheese steak meets banh mi,” and the “sleeper hit” that is the Frito pie from Gabe Thompson of L’Artusi. For dessert, don’t miss the treats from Stellina — in particular, the bomboloni, a salty-sweet, kettle-corn-encrusted doughnut. “It is not quite a miracle. But close.” [NYT]
Related: The Mamma of All Pop-Ups [NYM]

Shockey Says Hop the L to Forcella; Sifton Finds St. Anselm