Mr. [Jared] Sippel is trying to do so many things at once that his point of view gets garbled. The potential for confusion is even embedded in the name, which means Italian in French.
Two rooms, with different styles and food, are spread out across a deep, high-ceilinged spot just west of Madison Square Park.
It’s Italian in the casual front, and French in the more-formal back, which sometimes does a tasting menu and sometimes doesn’t. Yes, even Wells realizes it’s a mullet restaurant (“party-in-the-front, business-in-the-back setups”).
The chef has rounded up a powerhouse team in the kitchen and as his business partners, so yes, the food is sometimes spectacular. Like, when a delayed reservation resulted in warm arancini being delivered as an apology. But unfortunately, often, mostly in the formal dining room, it isn’t. (“It was like reading a French text that had been run through Google’s translator and then back again.”)
In the end, the space walks away with one star, which mainly seems intended for the more casual bar room.
Some of the food at Italienne made me want to dance on the table. Some of it made me want to hide under the table and wait for the lights to go out so I could leave without making eye contact. My three meals might have come from three different restaurants. I would settle for one where the ideas had been worked out. At the moment, that is the Taverna.