The Other Critics

Jay Cheshes Sold on Dassara’s Nontraditional Ramen; Cuozzo Approves of Salumeria Rosi UES

Ootoya. Photo: Victor Prado/New York Magazine

This week, our own Adam Platt recalls his Tokyo teenage years with a visit to Ootoya. Where did the other critics dine? Read on to find out.

Like everyone else, Pete Wells has trouble getting into Blanca, but once he does he finds it “a very good and deeply enjoyable restaurant,” with but a few dull spots on its 27-course tasting menu. (“Each made me wish Mr. Mirarchi edited his menu as ruthlessly as he edits his dishes.”) But perhaps most impressive is the veteran’s vision for Blanca’s future: “Mr. Mirarchi and his staff are trying to find a new voice for fine dining” and “it looks as if they just might do it.”

At Dassara, Jay Cheses reports that “ramen fanatics with no experience at all in the noodle-soup trenches” have pulled an end-around on the grueling apprenticeship the dish traditionally requires. The restaurant’s “multicultural menu layers” stick together thanks to “the serious skills and sharp palate” of the chef. “But Dassara stands out most for leaving tradition much further behind” in serving Deli Ramen, “an expert melding of Jewish-American and Japanese tastes.” These “successful mavericks” have created “a homegrown alternative, a native New York ramen worth lining up for.”

The menu outshines the atmosphere at Swine, reports Andrea Scott at The New Yorker. While the “extensive” menu lives up the its name — creamy pork rillette, bacon marmalade, the swine chop, and the bacon sundae (“which tastes better than it may sound”) — it also offers meatless options. The derivative “faux-dingy rock dive,” unfortunately, does not change to meet diners’ preferences.

Robert Sietsema takes us to Elmhurst’s Chao Thai Too, “part of a stunning selection of 46 appetizers” at this Thai spinoff of the beloved original. The restaurant serves up “dishes from all over the lollipop-shaped country but specializes in food of the north, where salads, noodles, and fish are favorite foodstuffs,” but shows some outside influences as well, such as “a plate of perfectly deveined raw shrimp marinated in lemon juice and strewn with thin slices of bitter melon.”

Tejal Rao finds a sociable French spot in Sel et Gras, “a funny little place that celebrates rich, Frenchy classics with bite size portions and food-nerd tags.” The prices match the portions, for once, and the service can at times “be a bit too hands-off.” And “although the theme is the French Revolution,” the cuisine is “pretty straightforward” — and that’s a good thing.

“Whew!” Steve Cuozzo is relieved to find “hints of glory” at the Madison Avenue sequel to Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto. After “early visits made me fear that Casella believed Ralph Lauren shoppers wanted WASP-y Italian,” Cuozzo comes out satisfied with “rustic and elegant” dishes. He has these final words for the chef: “Keep reminding your team, Cesare, they’re cooking not for Madison Avenue — but for Manhattan.”

Miss Lily’s lacks the ingredients — music, space, cuisine — for a successful ethnic restaurant, Stan Sagner reports for the Daily News, and ends up “like the set of a glamorous tequila ad” instead. The cramped space recalls an airplane seat, and “much like airplane fare, much of Miss Lily’s food tastes as if it had been vetted by committee in order to please as broad and spice-phobic a demographic as possible.” The curry goat and the banana cream pudding ascend to divine heights, while the rest of the menu is “as soulless as many a presidential candidate.”

Jay Cheshes Sold on Dassara’s Nontraditional Ramen; Cuozzo Approves of