Jump to content

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 602
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

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.

I had dinner here last night with a someone well known to the house, who came by invitation. Chef Ladner didn't "cook for us", but he came out to greet us, and it was clear he knew we were there and that one of us (not me) was important. They gave us the best table in the house: the one on the balcony having the most overhang. Although we were charged for the meal, we were comped a couple of extra courses. So, while we ordered from the menu, this is not a write-up of an ordinary meal at Del Posto.

 

My ambivalence about this place is perfectly caught by u.e.'s write-up of a special meal he had here a couple of years ago. He perfectly states what's good about this place, and what isn't quite.

 

We had the seven-course "tradizionale" tasting menu ($145), because just about everything on it (none of which is on the carte) seemed too good to pass up. I see there's also a more elaborate (including using special table ware) "collezione" tasting menu, but perhaps it's lucky we didn't notice it.

 

I liked my dinner last night a lot. I would not say it was four-star food, by my lights. It was very good, though.

 

To like Del Posto, you have to like Italian food. I say that because some people on this board just don't. There's nothing modern or updated about the food here. It's traditional, pan-regional Italian food, cooked at a very high level.

 

Take one of the pastas on the "traduzionale" menu: 100-layer lasagna. This looks like a lasagna that Thomas Keller might cook. But it tastes like . . . lasagna. Tasting heartily of tomato, bechamel, cheese, and meat -- but in a fairly delecate presentation. What it is, is red-sauce heaven. So if you like that food, this is heaven.

 

Our main dish was more "interesting". But it was also fabulously good: amazingly moist and tender veal tenderloin, coated with charcoal (I think that's what it was) to give it a sharp smokey tang, over a polenta that was spiked with something to make it taste super-corny, with an "osso bucco vinagrette" that provided a great depth of flavor to what would otherwise have been a very delicate meat (despite the charcoal coating).

 

And that wine list! They don't have things no one else has -- they just have more of everything (Italian) than anyone else has. Huge selection of cuvees and vintages. They aren't giving the wine away -- but who would expect them to? We had a bottle of Marissa Cuomo's top white cuvee and (smarting from missing their producer night at Anfora on Tuesday) Foradori's top red cuvee -- from 1999! It's great to have access to stuff like that.

 

Although the room is noticeably quieter and less crowded now that they've removed a bunch of the tables and elimated the lounge dining area, it's still that room. My dining companion kept repeating over and over that it felt like we "were on vacation from New York." My problem remains that it seems like you're on vacation to New Jersey. The piano player for some reason was not annoying. Service, although very present, was good.

 

This sounds like a rave. But let's try to see this food for what it is. It's traditional. It's not "exciting". It's expensive. If you like this kind of food, you'll like the food here very much. If you don't, you'll think it's overpriced and boring (but NOT poorly executed).

 

If they served food at the bar (they don't), I'd be back by myself. As a place to go to dinner with others, I'm not sure. You'd have to know they're in the set of people who'd appreciate it.

 

 

I absolutely adore Italian food but you'll never see me at Del Posto.

 

Why? Because to me, the best Italian is what you don't eat at restaurants.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My only argument to that is by refining it you by definition change it to no longer being italian or portuguese. If you label yourself as say an italian influenced restaurant then that gives you the room to refine and make it 4 stars. Its a difficult task to claim authenticity and say your 4 stars. Im not saying it cant be done some how but i just dont know how either.

 

 

Chop said exactly what I was trying to say, only more precisely.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I absolutely adore Italian food but you'll never see me at Del Posto.

 

Why? Because to me, the best Italian is what you don't eat at restaurants.

Can you create a thread with a list of all the restaurants you won't go to because you can make the food at home?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not so sure I'd be as generous with the service, I would give it 3 stars. Maybe 3.5. It's absolutely not at the level of Le Bernardin, Per Se & Daniel IMO, which I grade at 4 stars. Maybe you got better treatment, but it's not hard to spot service issues here on a somewhat regular basis (reminds me of JG service). But we agree on food and ambiance, and the overall. So we wind up in the same spot.

 

By now I've eaten a pretty decent chunk of the menu. There really are some duds, some flat spots. I am not sure I got any takers on this when I said it in the Sifton thread (after the 4 star review came out), but this restaurant is at the same place that EMP was when Bruni gave them 4 stars: Their very best is clearly 4 stars, but if you eliminate that, it's 3 stars. They are an evolution away from reaching true 4 stars. BUT, Bruni paved the way for a critic giving a restaurant the benefit of the doubt, and awarding 4 stars before they earned it. What's fair is fair IMO, if EMP pre-changes was 4, then Del Posto now is 4 (and Per Se/Le Bernardin are 5).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have trouble believing that Del Posto is on the improvement trajectory that EMP is/was. Humm keeps pegging away at it, and I'm not sure the Del Posto team does the same. Until I see the evidence, my assumption is that they've plateaued -- certainly not in a BAD place, but short of 4 stars.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have trouble believing that Del Posto is on the improvement trajectory that EMP is/was. Humm keeps pegging away at it, and I'm not sure the Del Posto team does the same. Until I see the evidence, my assumption is that they've plateaued -- certainly not in a BAD place, but short of 4 stars.

 

I don't disagree with anything you wrote there, including the fact that retrospectively Bruni was more trustworthy of a "trust me" style judgement than Sifton is now.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why? Because to me, the best Italian is what you don't eat at restaurants.

 

What does this even mean? I'm a pretty good cook. Good enough that most food I eat at restaurants I could make just as well at home (because most meals I eat out are simply good iterations of French/Italian/New American bistro food). So this argument must be about refinement. Now, I defy you to find a Nona who's grinding out the dozen different kinds of pasta they have at Marea, or who's getting that many different kinds of fish that fresh, or who has access to produce as good as what they serve at the three star Italian restaurants. Do Nona's get Alba white truffles? Why don't the Nona's I know combine sea urchin and lardo? Or sea urchin at all? I appreciate the argument that Italian technique isn't sufficiently advanced to create true four star cooking (although is there anything particularly French about sous vide or many other four star techniques these days?) or that once you reach a certain level of complexity it's no longer Italian in character, but neither of these statements suggest to me that it's not worth it to plunk down a hefty chunk of change on a fancy Italian meal or that the best Italian food is only cooked in Bensonhurst kitchens.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The argument -- with which I strongly disagree -- is that Italian (and Portuguese) cuisine are essentially earthy and don't benefit from refinement. That elaborate combinations of fancy ingredients -- indeed, even the use of fancy ingredients -- deracinate them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The argument -- with which I strongly disagree -- is that Italian (and Portuguese) cuisine are essentially earthy and don't benefit from refinement. That elaborate combinations of fancy ingredients -- indeed, even the use of fancy ingredients -- deracinate them.

 

It can't be an ingredient argument. White truffles, uni, culatello, etc are luxury ingredients that are typical of traditional Italian cuisine. So it might be a technical argument about elaborate preparations and long reduced stocks. But we've seen true four star food in the French tradition that eschews these elements, so that they're not necessary to create high end food. My best guess is that this is this is an authenticity argument. While fancy French food has progressed in such a way that many modern preparations that have little in common with traditional haute cuisine are seen as part of an historical trajectory, because Italian food in Italy has been somewhat hidebound by tradition, any attempt to modernize or elevate is seen as inauthentic. The concern about in-authenticity may be such that even food that is refined is a traditional Italian way gets rejected by some people because of how they perceive authentic Italian food should be.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jean-Georges Vongerichten, while culturally a French chef, serves a cuisine that is uniquely his own, and that was once considered innovative. (Whether he is STILL innovating is another question entirely.)

 

Now, why couldn't an Italian chef do for Italian cuisine what Vongerichten did for French? Whether you could get the exact same thing in Italy becomes irrelevant.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Italians seem to value preservation more than others and seem to equate authenticity with it. (I mean, we're talking about the country that recently took steps to ban molecular gastronomy)

 

They do not seem to value accuracy, at all.

 

Diners in Italian restaurants expect the food to seem authentically Italian, meaning it needs to have flour and water as a significant ingredient, it needs to rely too heavily on acidity and bitter flavors, and meaning it has to be simple (in terms of number of ingredients and complexity of preparation).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jean-Georges Vongerichten, while culturally a French chef, serves a cuisine that is uniquely his own, and that was once considered innovative. (Whether he is STILL innovating is another question entirely.)

 

Now, why couldn't an Italian chef do for Italian cuisine what Vongerichten did for French? Whether you could get the exact same thing in Italy becomes irrelevant.

 

People will tell you -- again, I don't agree -- "that's not what's good about Italian food."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...