Critic Roundup: Annisa's Chef Crosses Borders with Her Food

Every week, The Daily Meal rounds up restaurant reviews across America

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

“Ms. Lo will tell you that the taste of her mother’s cooking made its way into Annisa’s soup dumplings,” says New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells of Anita Lo, chef at Annisa in Greenwich Village.

This week in restaurant news, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells gives three stars to Greenwich Village’s Annisa, whose chef Anita Lo crosses borders with the food she serves. Lo’s “free-form” cooking comes from her Asian background, explains Wells. Her mother is Chinese, from Malaysia; her father was Chinese, from Shanghai; but Lo was raised in Michigan by her mother and a non-Chinese stepfather. “Ms. Lo will tell you that the taste of her mother’s cooking made its way into Annisa’s soup dumplings,” he says. “They have been on the menu from the beginning, and can still startle with their seductive filling of foie gras mousse in a thick, glistening broth seasoned with ginger, star anise and cinnamon.”

In San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer reviews Ala Romana, where the interior "reinforces the casualness of the dining experience, but the service is strong." "On first impression, the dimly lit room looks as if it could have been a prison barracks. The feeling softens, however, with the warm, responsive service and the style of food. The floor is made of baked wood that extends up the lower portion of the walls, with rusted metal above and a black open-beam ceiling. The communal table is so tight against the wall that waiters have problems serving. In some cases we just reached out and took the plates from across the table to save the waiter time and effort. The situation is better at the tables along the wall, but the aura of the room reinforces the casualness of the dining experience."

In Dallas, Dallas Observer restaurant critic Scott Reitz reviews Max's Wine Dive, which he syas is so consistently crowded that you might think it just opened. "On a recent Friday night, couples clustered in the small waiting area near the front door, shielding themselves from an arctic blast every time diners entered or left," he says. "They filled the dining room and they almost filled the bar, too. It was date night at Max's, which it turns out is about as reliable as the crowds. Those who weren't already paired up looked like they'd be happy to do so."


Restaurant Critic Roundup: 2/5/2014


Critic Publication Restaurant Rating
Gael Greene Insatiable Critic Ristorante Morini  
Devra First Boston Globe Bondir  
Michael Bauer San Francisco Chronicle Ala Romana 2 stars
Pete Wells New York Times Annisa 3 stars
William Porter Denver Post Lower 48 Kitchen 3 stars
Jonathan Gold Los Angeles TImes b.o.s.  
Scott Reitz Dallas Observer Max's Wine Dive  

Click here for The Daily Meal's "Top Chefs Review — and Rate — America's Food Critics."


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Haley Willard is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter at @haleywillrd