Restaurant Critic Roundup: Fancifying Italian Food, 'Italians Even Worse at It Than We Are'

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

Critic Alan Richman gives no stars to Italian restaurant Corvo Bianco this week.

This week in restaurant news, critic Alan Richman reviews Italian restaurant Corvo Bianco in New York City. His praise is minimal, if existent at all. "Corvo Bianco is far from the only restaurant to fail at reinventing and fancifying Italian food," he says. "It’s a regular occurrence, driven by a need for chefs to get noticed and restaurants to attract customers. Everybody blames America for screwing up Italian food this way, but you’ll find the same problem throughout Italy. If you think such experimentation works better there than here, you’re mistaken. Italians are even worse at it than we are."

Also in New York, former New York Times critic Frank Bruni writes on "the joys of repeat visits" in "Familiarity Breeds Content." Being a regular is something to be cherished, he explains, while a new restaurant induces stress. Meanwhile, current critic Pete Wells awards two stars to restaurant Estela, calling the cooking "a mild case of weirdness."

In Los Angeles, "an extra buck or two will get you good-enough tempura to dip in your bowl; the usual pumpkin, eggplant, and fish cake, but also baby octopus, nori seaweed, and soft-boiled onsen eggs whose oozing yolk thickens the broth," at restaurant Marugame Monzo. "The tempura-fried pickled ginger, bubbling and scarlet, is so delicious I can't believe I haven't seen it before — the sensation is a bit like an onion ring that mysteriously refreshes your appetite instead of killing it," continues critic Jonathan Gold. 

Near San Francisco, critic Michael Bauer mentally places Picco in Larkspur back on his Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants list. The restaurant that he found "lacked passion" a couple of years ago, prompting him to drop it from the aforementioned list ("three out of five dishes I ordered on that visit, for example, had peas and carrots," he says), has now revamped its offerings. "A return visit earlier this week," he says "showed that Hill has brought the passion back. The chef was in the house, and electricity permeated the 100-seat space." 

As always, the ratings range from stars to bells to beans, but every review offers specialized insight into the food, atmosphere, and service of eateries in each city’s dining scene and the critics eating at them.

Restaurant Critic Roundup: 9/18/2013

Critic Publication Restaurant Rating
Alan Richman GQ Corvo Bianco 0 stars
Gael Greene Insatiable Critic Beyoglu  
Pete Wells The New York Times Estela 2 stars
Michael Bauer San Francisco Chronicle Picco 3 stars
Jonathan Gold Los Angeles Times Marugame Monzo  
Brad A. Johnson OC Register Lark Creek Newport Beach 2 stars
Robert Moss Charleston City Paper Dell'z Uptown  
Tom Sietsema Washington Post Thally  
William Porter Denver Post Table Mountain Grill & Cantina 2.5 stars
Scott Reitz Dallas Observer Boxwood Tap and Grill  

Click here to see The Daily Meal's "Top Chefs Review — and Rate — America's Food Critics (2013)."


Tyler Sullivan is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter at @atylersullivan