The Other Critics

Cuozzo Taunts Restaurants That Didn’t Heed His Bad Reviews; Sutton Finds Isa ‘Endearingly Odd’

Ryan Sutton calls Taavo Somer’s Isa “endearingly odd, if a bit self-important.” He likes the vibe and the “primitive modern” food (plating is “precise yet natural, as if a forest floor was tidied up by an interior designer”), even if there is a yoga studio upstairs and, some nights, “menus are Magic Markered in the same, hard- to-read script as high school Battle of the Bands flyers.” [Bloomberg]

Steve Cuozzo proclaims, “I told you so!” today, listing off a bunch of places that he’s hated, which are now closing. See ya later, Walle, Le Caprice, and Nuela. [NYP]

Tables for Two also reviews Isa this week. Silvia Killingsworth writes, “the over-all feeling is that of a hippie ski cabin,” but “[t]he food is anything but rustic.” She’s into the restaurant’s whole-squid entrée, as well as its “less challenging options: ‘ham,’ ‘cheese,’ and ‘wings in sticky caramel,’” calling those wings “easy to understand and even easier to eat, if a couple of notches too sweet.” [NYer]

Oliver Strand stops in for a bite at Caffe Bene, a recently opened Korean-import coffeehouse near Times Square. He describes the joint as “a supersize independent shop: two hulking Marzocco GB5s are staffed by baristas who skillfully pull shots, steam milk and serve drinks with a cheerful, Have a bene day!” But, “On the bewildering side: so many pastries, so few worth it,” he continues. At Bene, he says it’s “Better to keep it simple. Get a waffle and a misugaru latte, or an Americano ($2.25), the order of choice in Seoul.” [NYT]

As we told you yesterday, Pete Wells takes on Shake Shack: “To answer two obvious questions right away: Yes, I would give stars to a hamburger stand. No, probably not four stars.” Wells says the burgers can be inconsistent, and the fries are awful, but he’s into the custard and the service. [NYT]

Wells also visits Allswell in Brooklyn: “When I tasted little canapés he had made of spicy chard stems wrapped in ultrathin bacon, I didn’t want the recipe. I wanted to pass a law making it illegal to cook chard leaves without doing this to the stems.” Too bad the good times didn’t last: “A meal in early December hit its marks all around, but at a second dinner in early February, some dishes made me wonder if maybe [a] television had been installed in the kitchen.” [NYT]

Robert Sietsema stops in for a slice at pizzeria Barboncino, where, he says, the “small pies often flaunt big flavors and can be a buck or two cheaper than similar products in Manhattan.” He adds that starters “are totally predictable, and that’s how it should be.” But make sure you get the peppers, which are “glistening with olive oil in pretty shades of red and yellow.” [VV]

Lauren Shockey reviews Caffe Storico, where “One of the best starters happens to be the most expensive: a $16 portion of lightly fried, intensely sweet langoustines, served with tart pink grapefruit and ricotta.” Her favorite dishes are the ricotta cavatelli with lobster and mushrooms, and the artichoke mezzaluna with porcinis.” [VV]

Cuozzo Taunts Restaurants That Didn’t Heed His Bad Reviews; Sutton Finds