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I know that was mainly rhetorical, but I wouldn't say Spasso is in anything approaching the same ball park as Del Posto. Not in terms of the interest of the menu, nor the quality and expense of ingredients, nor the technical level of the cooking. Whole other universe up there at Del Posto.

 

And obviously, notwithstanding that, yes, I'm going to keep going to Spasso a lot more than Del Posto, too.

 

I think a more pertinent question would be whether Del Posto is worth whatever the marginal price difference is over Manzo.

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It's the Fall Preview issue of New York magazine, and there's a profile of Batali's new Meatpacking District place, Del Posto.     More Fall Preview food stuff

Actually hiring their CdC did

Wow. I don't disbelieve you in any way but those rates are pretty unbelievable.

The question that interests me is, is the food at Del Posto worth three (or whatever) times the going rate at Spasso?

Well, for starters, it's not three times. The current menu price at Del Posto is $115, but that buys five courses (two antipasti, pasta, entree, dessert). That would run you about $70-75 at Spasso. Of course, you might not choose to order five courses if you had a choice, but that's a different matter.

 

Certainly, the premium at Del Posto is reasonable if it's doing an excellent job, and obviously you're paying something for the service and atmosphere.

 

At any rate, it's remarkable to see the price increase that Sifton's four-star review allowed them to get away with. That $115 menu was $95 six months ago, and the à la carte option has been dropped, all thanks to Sifton.

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My favorite porkchop dish is carne aletejana. Real version whatever pork you have layign around braised in wine garlic and paprika, take the juice and pork throw in clams and fried potatos cook until they open and throw a handful of chopped parsley in and devour with a ton of crusty bread. 4 star version red waddle souvide shoulder, Steamed razor clams out of shell and sliced thin, all under a cloud of potato foam drizzled with parsley oil and a few strategicly placed croutons placed on top. Flavor profiles are all the same one cost minimal the other far more along with far more work. Is the second still portuguese or is it something els? I dont know the answer to that honestly. I guess thats sort of what i mean. And trust me sneak i agree with all your points. But is there somethign lost in that translation of teh two dishes as far as cuisine type is concerned. Both are delicious and probably taste almost identical minus textures and such. Its a tough call to me i think. Im strange a bit because im a chef that has traveled but hasnt really eaten out very much. So i tend to see things from a kitchen aspect far more then a bigger picture speakign from a diners perspective.

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By the way, I don't object to the idea that Del Posto could get four stars, assuming it is executing on the level that Sifton claims it is. The main problem is that I don't trust him.

 

Maybe this goes into the Sifton thread rather than here, but to me, if you're serving this kind of traditional food, to get four stars you'd have to be executing at such an insanely high level that you'd need to have Saint Martha in the kitchen.

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Having stayed out of this fray years ago on CH, then on eG, then OA (where it got very interesting) & here on MF, I'm going to ask the question that is most basic to me -- other than French, what cuisine would be considered worthy of 4 stars if done extremely well within its genre? Most of the other Western European countries have been ruled out here (Italy, Portugal, Spain...) and, if memory serves, just about all the non-European ones as well. Certainly Turkish :blush: Japanese sushi? I mean, what does it take to cut up some raw fish, huh? :blush: :blush: It seems to me that the definition of top cuisine (okay "haute") by top chefs seems to be listed in every top eater's dictionary as "see France". So, let's just move from there and put a disclaimer in the front of the guide that says "we know it's not rooted in French, but here's how much we respect/appreciate/like it anyway".

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Oh, okay.

 

I have always disagreed with the exclusions. I am convinced that any cuisine which rises above mere subsistence can be transformed into cuisine which fits the four star profile. However, the strategy for doing so does involve accepting and aspiring to criteria for excellence which derive historically from the French tradition. The result may indeed be that you sacrifice criteria which are valued by the community which created the cuisine.

 

Random real life example - and there are many - Bar Bould moves chicharrones up two star levels by making them tender and unctuous through a multi-stage cooking process. People who grew up with traditional chicharrones might well miss the crunch and chew.

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Having stayed out of this fray years ago on CH, then on eG, then OA (where it got very interesting) & here on MF, I'm going to ask the question that is most basic to me -- other than French, what cuisine would be considered worthy of 4 stars if done extremely well within its genre? Most of the other Western European countries have been ruled out here (Italy, Portugal, Spain...) and, if memory serves, just about all the non-European ones as well. Certainly Turkish :blush: Japanese sushi? I mean, what does it take to cut up some raw fish, huh? :blush: :blush: It seems to me that the definition of top cuisine (okay "haute") by top chefs seems to be listed in every top eater's dictionary as "see France". So, let's just move from there and put a disclaimer in the front of the guide that says "we know it's not rooted in French, but here's how much we respect/appreciate/like it anyway".

 

I totally agree with Dave.

 

1. Jersey would definitely win in a street fight...and our knives are definitely sharper. lol

 

2. In my humble opinion, here is the "challenge" that faces Del Posto--and especially its ownership group. For more than a decade and a half, all of those involved with the ownership of that restaurant have built an absolute money printing empire telling us that the beauty of *really good* Italian food is simplicity of preparation and quality of ingredients. The problem becomes, are those two foundational principles enough to garner Michelin 3 and/or NYT 4 star ratings? If you are already conceding the "blow my hair back" factor, can you get there on the other aspects alone? Well, Dave and I can certainly present a case that the bulk of Del Posto's pantry is coming from the same purveyors as every 2 and 3star in the city. So, right off the bat, other than on some really off the wall Italian ingredients that Mario and Mark might be sneaking back in their garment bags, the notion that their pantry is any more impeccable than their peers is out. What's next? Service? I will comfortably say that the service is professional and usually quite good, but not the best in the city. Wine list? Not *really* my area of expertise but it has been addressed here by others. While probably unmatched depth on the Italian side, does it have enough breadth to be among the 5 or 6 best restaurants in NYC? Cheese service? and so it goes.

 

The best way to add to Dave's very good case is that Italian food--when done really well--doesn't have the degree of difficulty to get you to 4 stars--unless every other aspect of the experience is totally flawless.

 

I don't think it's a matter of geography--ala Spain, Italy or Portugal can't be this or that. Rather, I think it has to be viewed within the context of what the stated goals of the chef, ownership team and the restaurant are. Mario, Lidia and Uncle Fester never came out and say they were going to do avant garde Italian food and THAT would be their path to 4 stars. They said that they were attempting to provide the best traditional Italian food experience in the country--"harkening back to the grand traditions of Italy." Is that enough? for most of us, it isn't. Really good pasta is really good pasta. And if the pasta program is "better"--other than garnishes at Del Posto, than it is at Lupa or Babbo or Esca--well than what does that say about their organization? At the end of the day, it is still flour, eggs, water and salt, no?

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I think the award of four stars to Del Posto represented a change from the practice of the last 20 years (as well as a divergence from the food community consensus).

 

I disagree - to me EMP represented the real change in the 4-star water mark, Del Posto just met the new lower bar. Yes, EMP is 4 stars now, but wasn't when it was awarded. To me, Bruni's review and subsequent immediate post-departure talking points practically read like apologies that asked people to have faith. Turns out he was right, but it left the door open that Del Posto merely crossed through. And it wouldn't surprise me to see The Modern rollick on in either at this stage.

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Since I agree with everything Marauder said, and he said he's agreeing with everything Chop said, but I don't agree with everything Chop said, I have to conclude that Marauder and Chop are saying different things.

 

We all agree that what Del Posto is doing isn't four-star.

 

Where we disagree is whether some hypothetical Italian restaurant that's different from Del Posto could be four-star. I think it could. It seems to me that Marauder thinks it could. Chop is saying that, in his view, the food would then cease being Italian.

 

I keep coming back to Combal.Zero. I could see a lot of people here not liking it. But I think it would take some nerve to tell an Italian chef cooking in a suburb of Turin (or Torino as the pretentious here would have it) that he's wrong to call his food "Italian."

 

ETA -- Who I agree with completely is Wilfrid. In "elevating" the food this way (NOTE scare quotes), you necessarily buy into French standards, and you may well give up some qualities the food's home community treasures. But that doesn't stop it from continuing to be food within that genre.

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Having stayed out of this fray years ago on CH, then on eG, then OA (where it got very interesting) & here on MF, I'm going to ask the question that is most basic to me -- other than French, what cuisine would be considered worthy of 4 stars if done extremely well within its genre? Most of the other Western European countries have been ruled out here (Italy, Portugal, Spain...) and, if memory serves, just about all the non-European ones as well. Certainly Turkish :blush: Japanese sushi? I mean, what does it take to cut up some raw fish, huh? :blush: :blush: It seems to me that the definition of top cuisine (okay "haute") by top chefs seems to be listed in every top eater's dictionary as "see France". So, let's just move from there and put a disclaimer in the front of the guide that says "we know it's not rooted in French, but here's how much we respect/appreciate/like it anyway".

 

I totally agree with Dave.

 

1. Jersey would definitely win in a street fight...and our knives are definitely sharper. lol

 

2. In my humble opinion, here is the "challenge" that faces Del Posto--and especially its ownership group. For more than a decade and a half, all of those involved with the ownership of that restaurant have built an absolute money printing empire telling us that the beauty of *really good* Italian food is simplicity of preparation and quality of ingredients. The problem becomes, are those two foundational principles enough to garner Michelin 3 and/or NYT 4 star ratings? If you are already conceding the "blow my hair back" factor, can you get there on the other aspects alone? Well, Dave and I can certainly present a case that the bulk of Del Posto's pantry is coming from the same purveyors as every 2 and 3star in the city. So, right off the bat, other than on some really off the wall Italian ingredients that Mario and Mark might be sneaking back in their garment bags, the notion that their pantry is any more impeccable than their peers is out. What's next? Service? I will comfortably say that the service is professional and usually quite good, but not the best in the city. Wine list? Not *really* my area of expertise but it has been addressed here by others. While probably unmatched depth on the Italian side, does it have enough breadth to be among the 5 or 6 best restaurants in NYC? Cheese service? and so it goes.

 

The best way to add to Dave's very good case is that Italian food--when done really well--doesn't have the degree of difficulty to get you to 4 stars--unless every other aspect of the experience is totally flawless.

 

I don't think it's a matter of geography--ala Spain, Italy or Portugal can't be this or that. Rather, I think it has to be viewed within the context of what the stated goals of the chef, ownership team and the restaurant are. Mario, Lidia and Uncle Fester never came out and say they were going to do avant garde Italian food and THAT would be their path to 4 stars. They said that they were attempting to provide the best traditional Italian food experience in the country--"harkening back to the grand traditions of Italy." Is that enough? for most of us, it isn't. Really good pasta is really good pasta. And if the pasta program is "better"--other than garnishes at Del Posto, than it is at Lupa or Babbo or Esca--well than what does that say about their organization? At the end of the day, it is still flour, eggs, water and salt, no?

 

I have to admit that I get it and cant really put up a cogent argument against any of it. But, I also cant put my finger on exactly what bothers me about it. Probably its because, from the perspective of an accomplished eater, I have trouble acknowleging that stars & accolades cant just be about how good it tastes, but have to be about the degree of difficulty and the goals and all the other things you all can patiently explain. If it's any comfort, I have the same problem understanding art & prefer the "I like the way it looks" approach. Of course, with Doctors I may choose to argue in favor of simplicity, low degree of difficulty, and easily attainable goals, leading to the patient living afterwards. What can I say, I love 2 star Italian food more than 4 star French so the # of stars bother me. But thanks for the explanations... I can at least appreciate that there's something real behind the curtain.

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I have to admit that I get it and cant really put up a cogent argument against any of it. But, I also cant put my finger on exactly what bothers me about it. Probably its because, from the perspective of an accomplished eater, I have trouble acknowleging that stars & accolades cant just be about how good it tastes, but have to be about the degree of difficulty and the goals and all the other things you all can patiently explain. If it's any comfort, I have the same problem understanding art & prefer the "I like the way it looks" approach. Of course, with Doctors I may choose to argue in favor of simplicity, low degree of difficulty, and easily attainable goals, leading to the patient living afterwards. What can I say, I love 2 star Italian food more than 4 star French so the # of stars bother me. But thanks for the explanations... I can at least appreciate that there's something real behind the curtain.

FWIW, even in this highly idiosyncratic, largely French standard of restaurant evaluation, Japanese (sushi, kaiseki, and traditional) and Chinese (especially high-level Cantonese) cuisine can (and do) occupy the highest tier.

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In rereading Dave's (chop's) post I will clarify. While I think it is *possible* to be an Italian or (insert ethnicity here) restaurant and be 4 stars, I will contend that in order to do that, you are crossing that threshold on the "Everything else" not the food. I don't think that the Italian food that Mario and Lidia had/have in mind, will ever possess enough inherent degree of difficulty or wow factor to be 4 stars--and for the record, Daniel probably doesn't either. With that said, you need to kick ass in all the other aspects of the experience--which I don't think Del Posto does--in order to get there.

 

Where Dave and I *might* diverge is in the necessity to be avant garde ethnic in order to get there. I don't think potato foam is going to push you over the top if your wine list is still inadequate or your cheese service is poor or your wait staff is not really tight.

 

Put another way, can someone make the case for Bouley's Danube--purely on menu focus--being a 4 star restaurant if Bouley made it his top priority, like Mario did with Del Posto? Let's assume Bouley shut down Bouley proper post 9/11 and decided to focus on Danube as the economy recovered. He expands the wine list, he brings over some of his best wait staff and cooks and says, "why not Eastern European food?" Can anyone see haute beef goulash and potato pancakes getting 4 stars? It's a curious mental exercise...

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