Pete Wells Gives 2 Stars to Hearth

Restaurant critic Pete Wells reviews a restaurant that was last reviewed by The New York Times 10 years ago.

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“It thrived not because it cruised along in the tail winds of a nomenclature fad, but because it diligently looked the other way as fads came and went,” says Pete Wells of New York City restaurant Hearth.

Before reviewing East Village’s Hearth, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells reads over The New York Times’ last review of the restaurant in 2004 by Amanda Hesser, who at the time observed that “one-word” name restaurants including Ilo, Tappo, Beppe, Gonzo, Pazo, Pico, Salt, Fresh, Supper, Canteen, Commune, District, and Town, “had become fashionable.” According to Wells, “more than half of Ms. Hesser’s roll call, didn’t last.” Hearth did.

“It thrived not because it cruised along in the tail winds of a nomenclature fad, but because it diligently looked the other way as fads came and went,” he says. “The same potato gnocchi wallowing in a wading pool of melted butter that Ms. Hesser praised will be on every second table tonight.”

Complimenting chef Marco Canora and owner Paul Grieco for their vision to “adapt the transparency of Tuscan cooking to his own region and time of year,” Wells says, “he gets few points for the originality of his vision. But for his fidelity to it, Mr. Canora’s score is off the charts.” “By all accounts he is in the kitchen on East 12th Street almost every night, even as he and Mr. Grieco have replicated their wine bar next door, Terroir, in four other neighborhoods.”

Wells goes on to mention some of the restaurants “weeds,” which he describes as “especially fast-growing and luxuriant.” “The tension between Mr. Grieco’s confrontational wine list and Mr. Canora’s soothing menu is one of the springs that keeps Hearth in motion.”

For Wells, what comes to mind when thinking of Hearth is pasta — “even though Mr. Canora rarely has more than two pastas on the menu,” “platters for two,” “spatchcocked chicken with flavor in every scrap of its flesh and golden skin,” “whole roasted fish stuffed with lemon and rosemary,” and “côte de boeuf.”

Hesser gave Hearth two stars for its “good, familiar food given a little luster.” Ten years later, Wells also gives it two stars, saying “it’s easier to see that familiarity as Hearth’s path to timelessness.”

For Wells' full review, click here.


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