Bacaro

136 Division StNew York, NY 10002 • (212) 941-5060 • bacaronyc.com

Bacaro is like Don Juan in restaurant form, dripping with romance and charm (pictured). But sadly, this quaint veneer is all built around one dish, the gnocceti. And if you stick with that and a glass of wine, you will think this place is the cat’s pajamas. But should venture beyond it, you will soon find that the emperor has no clothes.

All three starters were non-starters for me. The asparagus with egg and grana was relatively bland. The caprese was served with mealy tomatoes. And the spicy meatballs, while the best of the trio, weren’t all that spicy- or meaty, for that matter.

The other two entrées I tried were equal parts letdown, the duck ragu was dry and lacking complexity and the pork shank over soft polenta also left me wanting more depth of flavor.

Hell, even the wine was disappointing as was the service, asking us to leave after only 2 hours at our table. Blasphemy!

Flirting with disaster, Bacaro raised the Titanic with a strong Tiramisu to just barely eke out a second knife.

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i Trulli

122 E 27th St. New York, NY 10016 • (212) 481-7372itrulli.com

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I have no idea how many Italian restaurants there are in New York City, but by my count there are about 500 too many. Too many places coasting by on the New York Italian reputation. Getting by with pasta and sauce on a plate and calling it authentic because they serve it up with an Italian accent. But last I checked, speaking Italian and cooking Italian are not the same thing.

And it’s places like these- places like I Trulli that really piss me off. I mean why does this restaurant continue to survive while a MUCH better spot like Ciano (RIP), closes down just a few blocks away? It’s criminal! And it’s our fault. All of us. For giving them business. For perpetuating the lie and buying into the expectations of what we think we are about to eat as opposed to the actual food we are chewing in our mouths.

Just start by ordering their mini calzones and you’ll see what I mean. In a blind taste test I guarantee you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart from the frozen supermarket variety.

The fawned over short rib on Yelp also fell short. And I can only explain the hype by referencing another critter with four legs, sheep. People who hear short rib and then assume that it automatically must be incredible. Well it’s not. It’s overcooked and underwhelming. The caprese salad, while not bad, was not exactly memorable either. And the octopus was so blah I nearly forgot to mention it (went back and just added it).

Even the best dish of the night, the duck ragu was nothing even close to the epic swooning that you’ll read online. It’s certainly good, but the only reason it stands out is because everything else is so mediocre around it.

The surprise of the night (primarily because of lowered expectations) was actually the lasagna of all things. Good sauce. Good balance. Nice contrast of textures with the ever-so slight char on top, the way mama used to make. Well, not my mama, but if I had an Italian mother, this is the way I’d imagine she’d make it.

And of the various desserts we tried, the highly recommend beignets were highly unworthy. Instead, go for the apple crumble. Not very Italian, but it was easily the best thing on the dessert menu.

So now you know what to get if you go. But please, please, please don’t go. I don’t care if it’s too hard to get into the truly great Italian spots. That’s because they’re worth it. Pick another genre of cuisine and try back another night. But let’s bring some Darwinism up in this bitch and truly weed out the weak ones. Sure accessibility and affordability are nice things to have… in Wichita. In New York we live and eat by a higher standard. But if we continue to compromise, we will turn this city into a giant outdoor mall filled with Starbucks and Gap on every corner… Oh no! It’s already starting to happen!!!

2 teeth

Obica

928 Broadway New York, NY 10010(212) 777-2754 • obica.com

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From the moment you set foot inside you realize you’re not in Stuzziccini anymore. Such an upgrade from the last tenant. Cool vibe. Contemporary, yet warm décor. Love the mozzarella bar idea. Service is surprisingly on point for such a newbie as well. Usually things are a bit more herky-jerky during the waking moments, but Obica manages to stick the landing.

And stick it they did, on a great wine list with terrific options south of a C-note. Rare in NYC. The other massive hit was the parpadelle with duck ragu and orange zest. Absolutely remarkable. Cooking perfectly al dente and the zest somehow managed to brighten the duck to a level where a normally heavy dish actually felt quite light. You need this. Trust me.

But Obica is not a runaway success either. I expected more from a place with it’s own, self-proclaimed Mozz Bar, but tragically the two biggest misses for me both involved mozzarella of all things.

The first miss being the caprese salad (pictured). I found the cheese to be a bit hard and flavorless. You can get much better, MUCH creamier mozz at Eataly up the street. And the tomatoes were in dire need of salt to bring them to life.

The second miss was the pizza, and while full of flavor, it was ruined by placing ice cold burata on a piping hot pie, creating a hot-cold oral quandary.

The pineapple carpaccio closer was also somewhat unimpressive, which is more our fault for ordering it I suppose, but we were full and wanted something light, so it checked the box. Just wish the lemon sorbet was creamier as opposed to icy. A theme brewing perhaps? Guess I’ll have to investigate further on my return visit.

3 teeth