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Jason Perlow

Del Posto

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Don't you think the reasons people here haven't eaten there in droves are that time and money are finite resources, and Del Posto sounds like it's very expensive, not that comfortable, and not that interesting? Based on what you've read about Del Posto (not the reviews, but just the descriptions of the restaurant), would it be YOUR first choice for a high-priced dining destination (if, for example, you also haven't been to Gilt yet)?


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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Don't you think that people here haven't eaten there in droves because time and money are finite resources, and Del Posto sounds like it's very expensive, not that comfortable, and not that interesting?  Based on what you've read, would it be YOUR first choice for a dining destination (if, for example, you also haven't been to Gilt yet)?

No argument here...

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I figure that the silence just means others haven't gone yet. I think it's pretty unlikely that members have gone and decided that the didn't want to post anything, but if any of you are out there, please post.

pan,

you're certainly right on that. i'm just afraid that the fact that no egulleter has dined (or dined and felt the experience unworthy of posting about it) at del posto may be due to the initial reports of doom and gloom... i certainly understand the hesitation myself... if true, sad... :unsure:

u.e.

[edited for word choice error]

Well, I ate there a few weeks back. Table for 8, which made us a "group" and we had to select more limited selections for the table from the regular menu. The place is airy and enormous. We had a huge round table on the balcony that could easily have seated 12. It was nearly impossible to talk to someone across the table. The place is nice looking, I guess, but in a very non-NY way. What it reminded me most of is the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Vegas. Probably not the impression they had in mind. Service was quite formal, but friendly. Sommelier was very accessible, friendly and helpful.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but the whole place had a strange and uncomfortable vibe.

The food? Excellent, but, unfortunately, not all that memorable. I had roasted peppers with sardine to start. Yes, sardine singular (a fillet at that). Tasty simple dish, but not special. Those who ordered the sweetbreads were far more effusive. We had three courses of primi, which were uniformly delicious (bucatini alla gricia, tagliette bolognese, porcini risotto), though the risotto was a little liquidy for my taste. Then we had a whole roast leg of lamb for the table, which was simple and perfectly cooked. I had a grilled pork chop, which was not only completely unnecessary given what we'd had before, but was very standard. Nicely cooked, but nothing more. This was followed by a tasting of 2, 4 and 6 year old parmigiano, which was fun, though they gave us far too much cheese. dessert was unmemorable, though we did finish with a chocolate and rum tasting that was quite fun and left us all fairly loaded.

Sorry I don't have more detail on preparations, it was a while ago (I blame the rum). Anyway, the food was good, but no better than Babbo. The service was better, but still kind of stiff. The setting does nothing for me. In the end, Babbo at half the price or Lupa at a quarter are far more interesting to me.

I wouldn't go back, and I don't really expect the place to last.

In terms of new restaurants, I had a fabulous time at Country last night, but that's for another thread...

Al

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Well, I ate there a few weeks back.  Table for 8, which made us a "group" and we had to select more limited selections for the table from the regular menu.  The place is airy and enormous.  We had a huge round table on the balcony that could easily have seated 12.  It was nearly impossible to talk to someone across the table.  The place is nice looking, I guess, but in a very non-NY way.  What it reminded me most of is the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Vegas.  Probably not the impression they had in mind.  Service was quite formal, but friendly.  Sommelier was very accessible, friendly and helpful.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but the whole place had a strange and uncomfortable vibe.

The food?  Excellent, but, unfortunately, not all that memorable.  I had roasted peppers with sardine to start.  Yes, sardine singular (a fillet at that).  Tasty simple dish, but not special.  Those who ordered the sweetbreads were far more effusive.  We had three courses of primi, which were uniformly delicious (bucatini alla gricia, tagliette bolognese, porcini risotto), though the risotto was a little liquidy for my taste.  Then we had a whole roast leg of lamb for the table, which was simple and perfectly cooked.  I had a grilled pork chop, which was not only completely unnecessary given what we'd had before, but was very standard.  Nicely cooked, but nothing more.  This was followed by a tasting of 2, 4 and 6 year old parmigiano, which was fun, though they gave us far too much cheese.  dessert was unmemorable, though we did finish with a chocolate and rum tasting that was quite fun and left us all fairly loaded.

Sorry I don't have more detail on preparations, it was a while ago (I blame the rum).  Anyway, the food was good, but no better than Babbo.  The service was better, but still kind of stiff.  The setting does nothing for me.  In the end, Babbo at half the price or Lupa at a quarter are far more interesting to me.

I wouldn't go back, and I don't really expect the place to last. 

In terms of new restaurants, I had a fabulous time at Country last night, but that's for another thread...

Al

al.

thanks much for the report. sorry to hear the experience wasn't exactly what batali had hoped to deliver... :sad:

anyone know if del posto has a website or plans to post one? other than chowhound and nyc menu pages, i can't seem to locate a current menu (although these maybe current enough)...

u.e.

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Very interesting report, Fat Al and welcome to eGullet! Your comparing it to The Venetian in Las Vegas is right on, even if there are visual differences. The vibe is certainly similar. I think the vibe probably comes from a sense that the style of the restaurant is not really consistent with the style of food. It is sort of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I base this upon your description, my limited experience there in December and having read about the restaurant here and elsewhere.

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Very interesting report, Fat Al and welcome to eGullet! Your comparing it to The Venetian in Las Vegas is right on, even if there are visual differences. The vibe is certainly similar. I think the vibe probably comes from a sense that the style of the restaurant is not really consistent with the style of food. It is sort of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I base this upon your description, my limited experience there in December and having read about the restaurant here and elsewhere.

Thanks for the welcome, it's nice to be here.

As u.e. notes, it is kind of sad, because Batali's places are usually so good at hitting a precise note (whether you like it or not may be a different story, of course). Del Posto doesn't hit any note in particular. It's not even particularly good at being "fancy" since it really comes off as an affectation more than anything else. And food-wise, the fact that the pastas are great tells you nothing, since you can have those great pastas elsewhere in the empire, so why go to Del Posto? Unfortunately I can't really think of a reason.

Interesting random note is that they make their own tonic (!), which is sort of crazy. Quite good, but not the sweet colorless liquid you're used to.

The menupages menu is basically current as of the time I dined there.

Al

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As u.e. notes, it is kind of sad, because Batali's places are usually so good at hitting a precise note (whether you like it or not may be a different story, of course).  Del Posto doesn't hit any note in particular.  It's not even particularly good at being "fancy" since it really comes off as an affectation more than anything else.  And food-wise, the fact that the pastas are great tells you nothing, since you can have those great pastas elsewhere in the empire, so why go to Del Posto?  Unfortunately I can't really think of a reason.

....

The menupages menu is basically current as of the time I dined there.

Al

Funny you use "affectation" - from what I've read, "affected" is exactly how the restaurant struck me... I think it's one thing to set out with the goal of opening a world-class restaurant, it might be another to set out, very publicly, with the intention of "cracking" the NY Times 4-star "formula" - (1) assuming there is such a "formula," and (2) any restaurateur could "crack" that formula by pre-saging Bruni's (or any other critic's) preferences...

Thanks for looking over the NYC Menu Pages and giving the update.

U.E.


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

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sorry to hear the experience wasn't exactly what batali had hoped to deliver... 

Thing is, though, that it sounds like the experience is EXACTLY what Batali had hoped to deliver. Just from reading the restaurant's own publicity releases, what Fat Al described is EXACTLY what I would have expected.

I'm not saying this to try to make myself sound smart. I'm only saying that this may be why people aren't going to this place in the first place: cuz it just sounds like a bad idea.

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they make their own tonic (!)

Actually this (along with the bolito misto cart) is the first thing I've heard that makes this place sound interesting to me.

Do they still have the bolito misto cart? Nobody mentions it anymore.

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they make their own tonic (!)

Actually this (along with the bolito misto cart) is the first thing I've heard that makes this place sound interesting to me.

Do they still have the bolito misto cart? Nobody mentions it anymore.

I didn't see it, but I wasn't looking for it (and we were on a previously-limited menu).

Al

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Interesting random note is that they make their own tonic (!), which is sort of crazy.  Quite good, but not the sweet colorless liquid you're used to.

So does Per Se. It's as if they made an inventory of all the things the 4-star restaurants are doing....then imitated them.

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Jean-Georges makes its own sodas. They make a great non-alcoholic aperitif or accompaniment.

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Wanna know what's behind the pissing match? If the NYT article has its numbers right, the $130,000 per year lease they reported is dirt cheap; the place probably grosses as much on a good Friday or Saturday night.

Well, whose fault is that?!

And you're kidding about the gross on a Friday or Saturday night, aren't you? Because even at 300 covers, that's over $400 a person.

....... and whose fault was it that the landlord re-checked his math and wised up? Okay so, maybe my number for the weekend growth was hyperbole, let's say it's a month's worth of weekends..... still dirt cheap...

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....... and whose fault was it that the landlord re-checked his math and wised up? 

My understanding is that the Del Posto lease was signed with a prior owner. I assume it was market rate at the time the deal was done. Batali and Bastianich even gloated in the Times that Del Posto probably couldn't have been built on such a grand scale anywhere else in town, as the cost for so much space would otherwise have been prohibitive.

That said, if Del Posto were operating within the literal parameters of its lease, the landlord would have no recourse. Batali and Bastianich have conceded that they had a verbal understanding with the prior owners—but nothing in writing—that they could have use of vault space that was not technically theirs. Unfortunately for them, the new owners aren't bound by an unrecorded "gentlemen's agreement" to which they weren't a party.

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Does anyone know if they will re-open today after being forced to close Saturday? Sunday and Monday are normally dark for them - so they should open the doors today.


Edited by rich (log)

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After a weekend dining down in Stephen Starr territory, at El Vez and Morimoto this weekend, I was more than ready to compare the food, service and atmosphere to my 9pm reservation last night at Morimoto in Manhattan. But just anxious to get out of the apartment a few hours before dinner, we decided to have a drink and snack in the lounge at Del Posto across the street and were so sold on the experience we spent the next three hours there, canceling dinner across the street after our fourth plate was cleared.

Walking in, between the two sets of double doors, there are two valets, definitely not doormen from their dress or demeanor, who look bored out of their mind, and a small and incredibly sweet woman behind the coat check counter who seems in complete opposition to every wannabe model coat check girl in town.

Past there, we walked into a sort of subdued modern opulence. I thought it was going to look like Daniel, but it was really a spacious high-ceiling hotel lobby in subdued chocolate tones. Up the left side stairs, we made our way into the lounge. Making it clear to the hostess - one of two who looked like she really knew how to pull off evening clothes on a budget - we only wanted the lounge, she didn't walk us over but told us to sit wherever we liked, and we did, behind the railing, in front of the piano, and in full view of all comings and goings.

In retrospect we could have done as some diners had, and walked in with no reservations. I had read in New York's fall preview issue that the only dress code at Del Posto was going to be no tank tops and no sandals, and it was pretty clear watching those who did and did not have reservations, that anything goes. The women, all half the size and age of their dates, were in jeans, clingy and revealing tops, and rhinestones. The bar crowd revealed hoodies, tee shirts and cargo pants. You can either argue that this robbed the environment of its class or its stuffiness. Either way, it's what kept it at the level of luxe hotel lobby.

Our waitress brought us the menu / wine list - there's no cocktail menu but I think that's true of all Batali restaurants - and there are about twenty small plates from which to choose, all on average $18 each - low as $13, high as $30. There are no pasta dishes as we were told they would be too difficult to share but what if you didn't want to share? Anyway, ordering the tricolore with apples, it was disappointing to learn that meant greens and not pasta.

We picked four dishes to start which our waitress coursed. A porcini frittata - fluffy, hearty, moist, hot, tasty, easily consumed. It came with two pieces of brushetta topped with chopped olives. Next, the disappointing tricolore. Even for a salad, especially a $13 salad. Both of these were brought out one at a time to share. A server sets silverware, a server returns carrying a silver platter with the plate of food and a smaller sharing plate. They're white china with small painted purple flowers. Pretty quaint. There is new silverware and a new sharing plate for every course. The next two dishes though were not brought to share which was fine and wise. My date received the proscuitto with black pepper seasoned pineapple which was sliced even thinner than the meat and I received the carpaccio which was heavily flavored with olive oil. The carpaccio the waitress explained, was not covered in tomato sauce, it's just that the meat is red. I just thought that was an odd comment to toss out there since we're clearly looking at a plate of red meat in front of us. Again, both of these were delicious. But here's the thing. I know good food, and I know what I like, but is Del Posto serving the absolute best ingredients it can for the prices? Both of these plates must have been a quarter pound of meat? Less? And they're about $16 each. The evening continually succeeded in terms of taste and preparation of food. And I pay for an experience when I go out, and the joy of watching everyone, of being with someone I love who is as happy to be where I am as she is, to hear pleasant music - the pianist took requests - to be treated well, to escape and feel that I'm in maybe another city and definitely a different neighborhood - I got all of that last night and it was worth the price. But portion size for the price? I think that's the hugest flaw here. (As well as the dress code. But if people feel well-dressed and comfortable in what they're wearing that's fine. I just sincerely hope they didn't walk out of the house to go to Del Posto in what they would wear to Spotted Pig.)

So at this point things are good enough that we cancel our table at Morimoto not wanting the atmosphere across the street to spoil things. We were having too good a time and well, I've read the Morimoto forum.

Next we order the lobster frico. This dish was tasty. It's lots of pepper and peppers, supposedly a lobster's tail worth of meat, and made with cheese and potatoes but no egg. We enjoyed this despite two things: 1. I'm almost convinced there was no lobster in it at all saved for the appearance of a tiny diced piece, and 2. it completely fell to pieces and was impossible to eat with anything but our fingers. Still, what we got in our mouths, we liked. Finally, we had the gran fritto. This was $30 and was two pieces of every fritto on the lounge menu, each I believe was fried and prepared a different way. There was the salted cod which we could have eaten all night. Seaweed which were the largest portions and like nothing I've had before, cauliflower and sweet potato which were like tempura and a bit out of place, and baccala in a red sauce. With the chef's compliments there was a double fried artichoke in the middle. We joked with the waitress that it was okay that it was completely inedible because at least it was free.

I should point out that for the gran fritto plate, they had to push two tables together for us to put it down. So again it baffles me that the only reason they don't serve pasta in the lounge is because of table space. Also, in contrast to Motimoto across the street which was overflowing with people all night long, Del Posto was at its peak, a quarter full. It would have been nice to offer us a dish from the full menu. The kitchen could not have been that busy, especially as one chef kept coming back out to the hostess stand.

For dessert we had the aged parmesan tasting and the chocolate and rum tasting, served one at a time to share. Both dishes, they're $18 each, are great for sharing though I'm not sure if they're listed as such. They're certainly overwhelming. The cheese came with a goat cheese bread, a pear mustard made I believe from a pear with mustard seeds in it soaked in simple syrup then thinly sliced - I wish I knew where I could find this - and a jelly, a 25 year-old balsamic vinegar and a honeycomb. The goat cheese bread was a nice contrast to the one kind of bread they'd been serving all night long, a potato ciabatta. I'd have thought they'd have more kinds of bread available. The cheese I'd definitely have again. I only wish the condiments came in a slightly greater abundance, it was more like a tease of them.

For the chocolate tasting, there were three dark chocolates and three sugar cane rums, the third poured having the strongest fruit flavors and being the best tasting, especially paired with the equadorian chocolate. It must have been the sommelier who came over to bring the rums. They came on a silver tray, each bottle was presented and explained in detail. Not at all in a condescending way as each explanation began with a "as you must know..." without a hint of sarcasm. I'd have been so much more interested if he wasn't talking through the song I requested. The rums tasted more like cognacs and it was more chocolate than any two people can consume so i had it wrapped and I'll bake with it later.

For all this, six plates, two dessert tastings, two glasses of wine and two cocktails - the rust colored tonic water was explained as being housemade and colored because of the quinine - the cost was $212, we left $250. I don't know what the tip is to request a song. I'm not that smooth. The pianist left about ten minutes before we were done and the same sort of music was played low over speakers. As kitschy as a pianist may be, hearing the same thing piped into the room sounded bad and cheap.

I would go back. I'd go back to the lounge and try everything I didn' t have this time at least once. There's also a full dessert menu in the lounge, at least ten desserts, but none looked too appealing so we opted for the tastings. The bar is a different scene, no food is served though it's in the same area, and we were the only people eating in the lounge during our three hours there. I'm trying Morimoto Saturday and if it looks anywhere near as insane as it did last night at 1030pm, well, I'm glad I didn't let it ruin the experience of last night.

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Del Posto, Batali & Co.’s new 18,000-square-foot cucina classica juggernaut, is an out-and-out bid for four-star recognition in a town where, as far as Italian restaurants go, three’s the max. Not that Batali or his partners, Joe Bastianich, Joe’s mother Lidia (of Felidia fame), and Lupa’s Mark Ladner, would ever admit it. There is no surer way for a star-seeking restaurateur to end up in the soup, after all, than to come right out and say of his latest masterpiece, “If this isn’t a four-star clam shack, I don’t know what is.”

Del Posto (NYMetro)

See also:

New restaurants from the Fall Preview issue of New York Magazine

They did more than admit it!

This past weekend I caught a "special" on the Food Channel featuring the "making of Del Posto" as well as covering Batali and all his projects--cook wear, cook book and restaurant empire.

Aside from the will they ever open on time and can mario juggle all his projects and still get four stars plot line, the show was of some interest a la -- complicated restaurant project gets off the ground.

Mario and Joe Bastianich come right out and say they are looking for four stars--more than once.

There is even a scene (after the opening of the restaurant) where they wait breathlessly for Frank Bruni to walk through the front door. (he is 'rumored" to be visiting that night).

The program closes with a title card indicating that as of the date of the special program "Frank Bruni has yet to review Del Posto."

During the program Mario tells us that it is near impossible for an Italian restaurant to get four stars because people (critics) think the food is too "simple" not complex enough.

There is an effort in the piece to show how the dishes are being devised--with complexity (suprise) and the best ingredients.

I can not imagine anyone doing this during Reichl's tenure-or Claiborn (in all fairness there was no food network). I can't help but think that IMOP--Mario and Joe made a primer for Bruni so he knows what they are doing and why--just a little help--"see Frank, here's why we are deserving of four stars!--now we can't write the review for you (or can we?!) so here's a little help.

yeeeeeesh!

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Probably wrong thread to ask this, but adamru, how did you get all these reservations for Morimoto? My friends and I always get the "booked straight through to March" routine.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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They did more than admit it!

This past weekend I caught a "special" on the Food Channel featuring the "making of Del Posto" as well as covering Batali and all his projects--cook wear, cook book and restaurant empire.

Aside from the will they ever open on time and can mario juggle all his projects and still get four stars plot line, the show was of some interest a la -- complicated restaurant project gets off the ground.

Mario and Joe Bastianich come right out and say they are looking for four stars--more than once.

There is even a scene (after the opening of the restaurant) where they wait breathlessly for Frank Bruni to walk through the front door. (he is 'rumored" to be visiting that night).

The program closes with a title card indicating that as of the date of the special program "Frank Bruni has yet to review Del Posto."

During the program Mario tells us that it is  near impossible for an Italian restaurant to get four stars because people (critics) think the food is too "simple" not complex enough.

There is an effort in the piece to show how the dishes are being devised--with complexity (suprise) and the best ingredients.

I can not imagine anyone doing this during Reichl's tenure-or Claiborn (in all fairness there was no food network). I can't help but think that IMOP--Mario and Joe made a primer for Bruni so he knows what they are doing and why--just a little help--"see Frank, here's why we are deserving of four stars!--now we can't write the review for you (or can we?!) so here's a little help.

yeeeeeesh!

I know... as I noted upthread, I can't believe the brassiness with which "Bastali" are going about this. They sure have made their point - almost throwing a gauntlet at Bruni, if not in the press, definitely through that one Food Network special feature! Odd advertising campaign... I feel already, as a potential customer, almost as if I'm just the side-show to this whole enterprise - that restaurant was really just built for the NY Times...

u.e.

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They did more than admit it!

This past weekend I caught a "special" on the Food Channel featuring the "making of Del Posto" as well as covering Batali and all his projects--cook wear, cook book and restaurant empire.

Aside from the will they ever open on time and can mario juggle all his projects and still get four stars plot line, the show was of some interest a la -- complicated restaurant project gets off the ground.

Mario and Joe Bastianich come right out and say they are looking for four stars--more than once.

There is even a scene (after the opening of the restaurant) where they wait breathlessly for Frank Bruni to walk through the front door. (he is 'rumored" to be visiting that night).

The program closes with a title card indicating that as of the date of the special program "Frank Bruni has yet to review Del Posto."

During the program Mario tells us that it is  near impossible for an Italian restaurant to get four stars because people (critics) think the food is too "simple" not complex enough.

There is an effort in the piece to show how the dishes are being devised--with complexity (suprise) and the best ingredients.

I can not imagine anyone doing this during Reichl's tenure-or Claiborn (in all fairness there was no food network). I can't help but think that IMOP--Mario and Joe made a primer for Bruni so he knows what they are doing and why--just a little help--"see Frank, here's why we are deserving of four stars!--now we can't write the review for you (or can we?!) so here's a little help.

yeeeeeesh!

I know... as I noted upthread, I can't believe the brassiness with which "Bastali" are going about this. They sure have made their point - almost throwing a gauntlet at Bruni, if not in the press, definitely through that one Food Network special feature! Odd advertising campaign... I feel already, as a potential customer, almost as if I'm just the side-show to this whole enterprise - that restaurant was really just built for the NY Times...

u.e.

Sorry--I missed your earlier post.

I agree!

Bastali are doing a few things here.

One-they are making an unabashed case for their four stars.

Not just to the Times but to the world (just in case Bruni doesn't come through). They are hedging their 10 million dollar bet!

I also can't help but think that the Times and Bruni have actually encouraged this --at the very least they have given Bastali the feeling that they can pull this off in this manner. (I still hold that Bruni should never have put his name on the Del Posto piece that ran on the front page of the food section thus becoming part of the Del Posto publicity machine.

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After a weekend dining down in Stephen Starr territory, at El Vez and Morimoto this weekend, I was more than ready to compare the food, service and atmosphere to my 9pm reservation last night at Morimoto in Manhattan. But just anxious to get out of the apartment a few hours before dinner, we decided to have a drink and snack in the lounge at Del Posto across the street and were so sold on the experience we spent the next three hours there, canceling dinner across the street after our fourth plate was cleared.

Walking in, between the two sets of double doors, there are two valets, definitely not doormen from their dress or demeanor, who look bored out of their mind, and a small and incredibly sweet woman behind the coat check counter who seems in complete opposition to every wannabe model coat check girl in town.

Past there, we walked into a sort of subdued modern opulence. I thought it was going to look like Daniel, but it was really a spacious high-ceiling hotel lobby in subdued chocolate tones. Up the left side stairs, we made our way into the lounge. Making it clear to the hostess - one of two who looked like she really knew how to pull off evening clothes on a budget - we only wanted the lounge, she didn't walk us over but told us to sit wherever we liked, and we did, behind the railing, in front of the piano, and in full view of all comings and goings.

In retrospect we could have done as some diners had, and walked in with no reservations. I had read in New York's fall preview issue that the only dress code at Del Posto was going to be no tank tops and no sandals, and it was pretty clear watching those who did and did not have reservations, that anything goes. The women, all half the size and age of their dates, were in jeans, clingy and revealing tops, and rhinestones. The bar crowd revealed hoodies, tee shirts and cargo pants. You can either argue that this robbed the environment of its class or its stuffiness. Either way, it's what kept it at the level of luxe hotel lobby.

Our waitress brought us the menu / wine list - there's no cocktail menu but I think that's true of all Batali restaurants - and there are about twenty small plates from which to choose, all on average $18 each - low as $13, high as $30. There are no pasta dishes as we were told they would be too difficult to share but what if you didn't want to share? Anyway, ordering the tricolore with apples, it was disappointing to learn that meant greens and not pasta.

We picked four dishes to start which our waitress coursed. A porcini frittata - fluffy, hearty, moist, hot, tasty, easily consumed. It came with two pieces of brushetta topped with chopped olives. Next, the disappointing tricolore. Even for a salad, especially a $13 salad. Both of these were brought out one at a time to share. A server sets silverware, a server returns carrying a silver platter with the plate of food and a smaller sharing plate. They're white china with small painted purple flowers. Pretty quaint. There is new silverware and a new sharing plate for every course. The next two dishes though were not brought to share which was fine and wise. My date received the proscuitto with black pepper seasoned pineapple which was sliced even thinner than the meat and I received the carpaccio which was heavily flavored with olive oil. The carpaccio the waitress explained, was not covered in tomato sauce, it's just that the meat is red. I just thought that was an odd comment to toss out there since we're clearly looking at a plate of red meat in front of us. Again, both of these were delicious. But here's the thing. I know good food, and I know what I like, but is Del Posto serving the absolute best ingredients it can for the prices? Both of these plates must have been a quarter pound of meat? Less? And they're about $16 each. The evening continually succeeded in terms of taste and preparation of food. And I pay for an experience when I go out, and the joy of watching everyone, of being with someone I love who is as happy to be where I am as she is, to hear pleasant music - the pianist took requests - to be treated well, to escape and feel that I'm in maybe another city and definitely a different neighborhood - I got all of that last night and it was worth the price. But portion size for the price? I think that's the hugest flaw here. (As well as the dress code. But if people feel well-dressed and comfortable in what they're wearing that's fine. I just sincerely hope they didn't walk out of the house to go to Del Posto in what they would wear to Spotted Pig.)

So at this point things are good enough that we cancel our table at Morimoto not wanting the atmosphere across the street to spoil things. We were having too good a time and well, I've read the Morimoto forum.

Next we order the lobster frico. This dish was tasty. It's lots of pepper and peppers, supposedly a lobster's tail worth of meat, and made with cheese and potatoes but no egg. We enjoyed this despite two things: 1. I'm almost convinced there was no lobster in it at all saved for the appearance of a tiny diced piece, and 2. it completely fell to pieces and was impossible to eat with anything but our fingers. Still, what we got in our mouths, we liked. Finally, we had the gran fritto. This was $30 and was two pieces of every fritto on the lounge menu, each I believe was fried and prepared a different way. There was the salted cod which we could have eaten all night. Seaweed which were the largest portions and like nothing I've had before, cauliflower and sweet potato which were like tempura and a bit out of place, and baccala in a red sauce. With the chef's compliments there was a double fried artichoke in the middle. We joked with the waitress that it was okay that it was completely inedible because at least it was free.

I should point out that for the gran fritto plate, they had to push two tables together for us to put it down. So again it baffles me that the only reason they don't serve pasta in the lounge is because of table space. Also, in contrast to Motimoto across the street which was overflowing with people all night long, Del Posto was at its peak, a quarter full. It would have been nice to offer us a dish from the full menu. The kitchen could not have been that busy, especially as one chef kept coming back out to the hostess stand.

For dessert we had the aged parmesan tasting and the chocolate and rum tasting, served one at a time to share. Both dishes, they're $18 each, are great for sharing though I'm not sure if they're listed as such. They're certainly overwhelming. The cheese came with a goat cheese bread, a pear mustard made I believe from a pear with mustard seeds in it soaked in simple syrup then thinly sliced - I wish I knew where I could find this - and a jelly, a 25 year-old balsamic vinegar and a honeycomb. The goat cheese bread was a nice contrast to the one kind of bread they'd been serving all night long, a potato ciabatta. I'd have thought they'd have more kinds of bread available. The cheese I'd definitely have again. I only wish the condiments came in a slightly greater abundance, it was more like a tease of them.

For the chocolate tasting, there were three dark chocolates and three sugar cane rums, the third poured having the strongest fruit flavors and being the best tasting, especially paired with the equadorian chocolate. It must have been the sommelier who came over to bring the rums. They came on a silver tray, each bottle was presented and explained in detail. Not at all in a condescending way as each explanation began with a "as you must know..." without a hint of sarcasm. I'd have been so much more interested if he wasn't talking through the song I requested. The rums tasted more like cognacs and it was more chocolate than any two people can consume so i had it wrapped and I'll bake with it later.

For all this, six plates, two dessert tastings, two glasses of wine and two cocktails - the rust colored tonic water was explained as being housemade and colored because of the quinine - the cost was $212, we left $250. I don't know what the tip is to request a song. I'm not that smooth. The pianist left about ten minutes before we were done and the same sort of music was played low over speakers. As kitschy as a pianist may be, hearing the same thing piped into the room sounded bad and cheap.

I would go back. I'd go back to the lounge and try everything I didn' t have this time at least once. There's also a full dessert menu in the lounge, at least ten desserts, but none looked too appealing so we opted for the tastings. The bar is a different scene, no food is served though it's in the same area, and we were the only people eating in the lounge during our three hours there. I'm trying Morimoto Saturday and if it looks anywhere near as insane as it did last night at 1030pm, well, I'm glad I didn't let it ruin the experience of last night.

Interesting intrepretation, Adam. In a lot of respects, your description is very similar to mine from December though your conclusions certainly differ. The prices seem to be slightly less expensive than they were, though it is difficult to tell.

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I can't believe the brassiness with which "Bastali" are going about this.  They sure have made their point - almost throwing a gauntlet at Bruni, if not in the press, definitely through that one Food Network special feature!  Odd advertising campaign... I feel already, as a potential customer, almost as if I'm just the side-show to this whole enterprise - that restaurant was really just built for the NY Times...

It's no coincidence that most of the four-star restaurants in town are also very busy restaurants. If Del Posto gets four stars, it will probably be because it is doing the "right things" that luxury diners are looking for.

In a sense, I think that Batali and Bastianich wanted a challenge: what would it take to open the Italian equivalent of Daniel or Jean Georges? But I don't think the game is up if Bruni awards fewer than four stars. Yes, the Times review is one of many measures of whether a restaurant is succeeding at what it set out to do. But at the end of the day, a four-star review is of no avail if Del Posto isn't a hit with its customers.

Last week, Batali told the AP's Adam Goodman, "I'm not going to tell anybody, but of course I'm worried. I'm working every hour of every day. This is my main event." I don't think he was just referring to the suspense of whether Bruni would award four stars. Batali isn't so foolish as to spend $12 on that gamble alone.

Obviously, it helps Batali that Bruni is already on record as being a huge fan of Babbo. But to even match Babbo's three stars, Del Posto has to be a lot better, in light of the prices they're charging.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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My guess is that they figured that if they could take the quality of the food at Babbo and put it in luxury surroundings with top-flight service they would be deservingof and get four stars and they should have been right. The problem with Del Posto from what I have seen from my limited direct experience and what I have read is that it comes off as being little more than pretentious.

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docsconz, I read your review from December just now and I agree with the portions being small and prices obscene, although I suppose now you get two or three ounces of meat instead of one ounce for the same price. And I'm glad the hostesses were more courteous. I can't see why they wouldn't try to be more useful, or try to seat us when the restaurant is near zero-capacity. One did nothing all night but walk back and forth from the back each time with a new hairstyle. Six times, and with short hair, that's not easy. But all the servers were pleasant, prompt and overall excellent. It did strike me as absurd after reading your review, to learn that the lounge tables were forbidden from receiving anything from the main dining room, 1. because it's such a thin line seperating the two and 2. because it's a waste of a kitchen who's not cooking for anyone else. I'm sure we could have spent $400 easily last night if more dishes were available to us, we just didn't want to surrender the more casual atmosphere. I think that's a huge mistake on part of management and one that should be flexible with the capacity of the room.

Having gone once now the memory will stay with me, a positive one, and eventually I'll go back. And I think come a year from now after everyone eats there once, it'll pass or fail on repeat business but I think Del Posto did an excellent job for better or worse in defining itself and seperating itself from other Batali restaurants, italian restaurants, other three or four star restaurants and I don't mind overpaying for a stark, defined experience. I do that at Cafe Gray too. Although no one seems to like that either and they manage to give you huge portions.

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