Robert Sietsema at Cholulita; Lauren Shockey at Octavia's Porch
This week in the Voice, Robert Sietsema finds authentic Pueblan in Mexican grocery-turned-restaurant Cholulita in Brooklyn; Lauren Shockey discovers that "global Jewish" cuisine isn't as comforting as it sounds at Octavia's Porch.
Sam Sifton awards two stars to the new incarnation of the John Dory Oyster Bar, deeming it "a much better restaurant than its forebear. ... [T]he food is more sophisticated despite its simplicity: elegant and focused. [April] Bloomfield is cooking well enough to hold her own against any seafood-centric kitchen in the city."
Adam Platt generally approves of Ciano and Shea Gallante's "highly particular vision of rustic-style, farm-to-table Italian cooking." At Millesime, however, he has issues with the "haphazard, jury-rigged space," although, he says, "you can now get a decent rendition of pike quenelles when you visit, and a velvet chowder laced with bacon and perfectly cooked diced clams."
Meanwhile, Jay Cheshes is less enthusiastic about Ciano: "Shea Gallante ... plays it much safer this time around. His new menu's rib-sticking pleasures may be easy to like, but they're just as easy to forget."
Ryan Sutton boosts Ai Fiori: "Pastas, are excellent, with the exception of trofie nero, which is outstanding -- a mind-bending preparation where the squid ink noodles, not the sweet shellfish, carry a punch of brine. Conservative eaters, who sometimes recoil from White's offal, lard-heavy approach to life, will appreciate Ai Fiori as a more restrained effort."
Steve Cuozzo is also a fan: "Ai Fiori's lobster is a dish to shut us all up. It's fine to know that it's poached in buerre blanc, or to say its cohesiveness lies in the unexpected mineral affinity between lobster and root vegetables. All the words fall short. For those of us who enjoyed it more than once, [Michael] White's astice was just the greatest dish in the world."
Gael Greene raves over the National: "The National wasn't designed for fickle first nighters and tall babes on spindly spikes who certify what's chic in New York, nor for addled blogotrons, or chef groupies. With its easy, relaxed air, timeless good looks, and good food at temperate prices -- entrees $13 for an artichoke sandwich to $28 for that steak frites -- it could serve a busy neighborhood for a very long time."
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