Robert Sietsema at Hazar; Tejal Rao at Ken & Cook


See what NYC’s restaurant critics have been up to this week:

Robert Sietsema
recommends Hazar as a place to take both your carnivore and vegetarian friends. He also crowns Hazar’s falafel as the best in the city: “Pleasingly studded with sesame seeds, they’re aerodynamically streamlined like Frisbees, so frying produces more crisp surface area proportionate to the interior, and also allows the insides to cook thoroughly. (I, for one, am tired of biting into a falafel and finding it raw inside.) Also in service of crispness, they’ve been fried darker than usual. Try these, and you might never go back to Mamoun’s.”

Ken & Cook does not live up to Tejal Rao’s expectations. She is sorely disappointed by the desserts, the service, and sometimes the food. “And in many cases, the food struggles,” she writes. “On one night, the warm biscuits on a plate of generic fried chicken ($19) were actually inedible, so loaded with baking powder they could qualify as comfort food only under conditions of extreme duress.”

Stan Stagner gives NoMad three out of five stars. He takes a liking to most of the dishes but doesn’t seem too fond of its signature whole chicken: “This Portlandia-level kabuki — it is not unusual to witness six or seven chickens on parade simultaneously — would be more amusing if the dish consistently lived up to the buildup . . . and it’s a mere $79, for two.”

No stars for Nicoletta by Pete Wells: “There was another reason my table never finished an entire pizza: We lost interest. The style of pizza Mr. White is pursuing emphasizes gut-stretching abundance over flavor. The pies are overburdened conglomerations of cheese, flour, and fistfuls of other stuff; in the end, the elements cancel one another out.”

Jay Cheshes also reviews Nicoletta and like Wells, does not like it: “Each pizza feeds two ordinary appetites, but even the best pies — heavy and grease-soaked — are like lead going down. Scanning the restaurant, you won’t find a table without leftovers to go.”

The New Yorker heads out to Biang! in Flushing: “Biang! is still working out its kinks. A quail dish — the result of a stint Wang did at the French Culinary Institute — is a nice thought, but it tastes too bland in this spicy company.”