The Other Critics

The Other Critics: Wells Gives One Star to Quality Italian; Joshua David Stein Praises American Cut

The chicken parm's not worth $58.
The chicken parm’s not worth $58. Photo: Sarah Silberg/New York Magazine

Adam Platt headed to the decidedly “un-Jiro” Sushi Nakazawa and awarded it three stars for the “impeccable freshness” of the sushi, a sentiment shared by Daniel S. Meyer. This was also a great week for Marc Forgione, with Ryan Sutton happily awarding Khe-Yo two-and-a-half stars and Joshua David Stein giving American Cut four stars (he loved the $10 carrot!). Read it all, straight ahead.

Pete Wells gave the midtown behemoth that is Quality Italian one star this week. The menu is “kitschy and fun” with theatrical tableside service, but the “food is so uneven you may as well order by spinning a roulette wheel.” There are plenty of misses: “blandly sugary” cannoli, roasted sunchokes (“little pantyhose-colored bags of regret”), and the “spongy” chicken parmigiana with “limp” breading. While the pasta dishes may not have lots of “finesse,” the porterhouse agnolotti in brown butter “had a transfixing depth.” Wells would also return for the “preposterously rich, but good” corn brûlée and the “bacon-studded kale carbonara.” Overall, “the kitchen needs to work on the first half of the restaurant’s name.”

Daniel S. Meyer also made his way to Sushi Nakazawa, the “sleek West Village sushi bar” from former Jiro Ono apprentice Daisuke Nakazawa, and awarded it four stars. The nigiri here is no joke: pike mackerel has a “gentle brininess,” wild yellowtail hangs over “tenderly packed” rice, and the hay-smoked skipjack tastes as if its been “licked by the salty sea and haunted with smoke redolent of the finest ham.” While at times “pungent wasabi or yuzu” can overpower “delicately flavored creatures” such as fluke or scallops, the daily changing omakase is a hit.

Ryan Sutton checked out the oft-reviewed Laotian cooking at Khe-Yo and was most impressed by the one dish on the menu that was free: the “semi-dry and gently glutinous” sticky rice. He especially enjoyed it with the bang-bang sauce, which “whets the plate with fish sauce and assaults your lips and sinuses with chile,” comparing the experience of the sauced rice to the “sensory pleasure similar to eating Buffalo wings.” Other must-orders: beef tartare (“practically sizzles with lime”), the fluke laap, and a “succulent pork curry broth.” Like other reviewers, Sutton recommends skipping dessert. “Let your mouth simmer down on its own,” he writes. Two-and-a-half stars.

Amelia Lester of The New Yorker explored the menu at Hunan Manor, the Manhattan outpost of Flushing’s Hunan House, and left impressed. The restaurant is “known for its preserved foods,” like a “white-chili preserved beef” that “begins to approximate what beef jerky could be, if it tried harder.” While the restaurant specializes in the “insistently savory flavor” of Hunan cooking, it also serves up notable dishes that aren’t “strictly” from the region: stinky tofu, “aspic-like thousand-year duck egg,” and a “spectacular” Szechuan ox-tongue-and-tripe dish. But the lighter take on cumin lamb with “telltale scallions and garlic, and a vinegary turn” is the true star of the menu.

“It’s brash and Art Deco,” are Joshua David Stein’s first impressions of Marc Forgione’s new Tribeca steakhouse, American Cut. “Even the slight suggestion of nuance has been gutted. The menu is a succinct study of too much,” he says. There are no surprises on the menu. Instead, Forgione perfects “the small canon of classics” and then makes them “even more extravagantly bananas”: Oysters doused in a “black truffle béchamel sauce” are made with a “splash of Champagne”; the shrimp cocktail is “stuffed into a neat little silver goblet”; and Forgione’s signature chili crab is now chili lobster. While the NYC Cut is “one of the best steaks” David Stein’s ever eaten, the most “brilliant gesture isn’t the meat at all.” It’s, shockingly, the $10 single carrot that’s “covered in a honey mint carrot reduction.” Four stars.

Stan Sagner wrote a five-star review of the Musket Room’s “assured and innovative” cooking, which functions as an “unabashed love letter to the chef’s native New Zealand and its wonderful, rustic ingredients.” Some hits: “delicately smoked” shredded scallops and the “decadent torchon of rum-cured” foie gras. Even dessert is “flawless,” maintaining the restaurant’s “painterly approach without giving up an inch on fun or flavor.” The pavlova, which is “brimming with passion fruit curd,” is “a serious upgrade” on the “stateside iteration.”

Alan Richman did not file a review this week. Instead, he wrote about dining at Eleven Madison Park with Harry Rosen, the charming 104-year old man from the Times profile.

Steve Cuozzo also did not file this week. He chose to expound upon the poor treatment of critics at restaurants.

This post has been updated to show that Stan Sagner wrote this week’s Daily News review. The newspaper’s site originally ran the review with Michael Kaminer’s byline.

The Other Critics: Wells Gives One Star to Quality Italian; Joshua David Stein