Robert Sietsema dives into the pan-Balkan cuisine at Balkanika, where 18 dips are neatly displayed in tubs. Located in Hell’s Kitchen, Balkanika adds a passel of Balkan hot dishes served as main courses and a cheeses and charcuterie list that emphasizes Eastern European products: “Other hard-to-find Balkan specialties include bureks, flaky spiral pastries filled with beef, spinach, cheese, or leeks (pick the latter); and moussaka ($12), a makeshift lasagna that substitutes potatoes for noodles, attributed to Macedonia and quite a bit different from the Greek rendition.”
Tejal Rao tries the fare at 606 R&D, which used to be a hair salon before Ilene Rosen and Sara Dima transformed it into a restaurant: “The food here comforts. Often, it’s what you’d consider making for an impromptu dinner party: half a golden rotisserie chicken ($20) served with a bowl of yogurt, some spicy watercress, and toast.”
Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite for Grub Street drops in on Chió and Iris. For Chio, Raisfield and Patronite says it’s “worthy of consideration on its own merits and not as a booby-prize backup plan for those who fail to get into the hot spot (Pok Pok NY) down the block.” As for Iris, located on the Columbia Street Waterfront District, they recommend the lemon posset, or eggless custard, over the chocolate cake.
Pete Wells pays a visit to Ichimura at Brushstroke in TriBeCa. He gives them three stars and says that they had the most remarkable sashimi and sushi he had ever tasted: “Like a steakhouse, Ichimura at Brushstroke dry-ages some of its best ingredients to concentrate their flavors and accentuate their sugars. A slab of tuna belly sashimi, chilled for several days, was unusually sweet and rich, though it still called out for a swipe of wasabi and a few drops of Mr. Ichimura’s excellent soy dipping sauce.”
Michael Kaminer is not a fan of Joanne Trattoria, the restaurant of Lady Gaga’s parents: “As if on purpose, the place is missing the creativity and commitment that made their daughter a star. The result is a careless, lifeless production that feels like a weird facsimile of a restaurant rather than the real thing.” Ouch.
Ryan Sutton digs in at Brooklyn Crab, the most expensive restaurant in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn: “The included turf was an inedible gristle-packed strip steak. Clam chowder (New England, not Manhattan — heresy, unless you’re a Pats fan) is mostly cornstarch and cream.”
Jay Cheshes gives three out of five stars to Pork Slope: “It all seems like an easy excuse for playing it straight and safe, for serving bowls of mushy chili, baskets of run-of-the-mill fried shrimp in Buffalo-wing hot sauce and a no-frills iceberg wedge drizzled in ranch. Only the pork here seems to get any real care or attention–this is a food destination only if you stick to the swine the place is named for.”
The New Yorker takes a liking to Mission Chinese Food: “The heat of Mapo Tofu–large cubes of silken bean curd tossed with equally large hunks of pork shoulder–spreads like fire in your mouth and stays awhile.”