Sifton Thinks Mia Dona Is Decent; Cheshes Unimpressed by Pulino’s

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Mia Dona is "exactly the sort of decent, middlebrow, red-sauce Italian restaurant you’d relish if you found it in a town near the town where you grew up in the suburbs of New York," says Sam Sifton. "Within the five boroughs of New York City, we call that sort of restaurant satisfactory." [NYT]

"If you’re going to bring a marquee chef to New York to make pizza, it had better be the best thing to happen to cheese, sauce and dough since the debut of DiFara," says Jay Cheshes about Keith McNally's Pulino's gambit. Unfortunately, "[Chef Nate Appleman]'s pies certainly aren’t." [TONY]

"Kenmare proved disappointing," says Robert Sietsema. "While the ingredients were unimpeachable, the facile preparation of entrées was a deadly sin, making you wish the kitchen had managed to squirt an additional sauce or two." [VV]

The menu at Northern Spy "isn't much like any other I've seen," says Alan Richman. "It's both low-priced and ambitious, which is only feasible if less-prized ingredients are prepared in curious ways." [Forked & Corked/GQ]

Russian restaurant Mari Vanna is "the setting for what the Russians call a skazka — a fairy tale," says Lauren Collins. "It is a place fit for a firebird or a frog princess, and fantastic even from the sidewalk." Even the fatback is magical: "If snow maidens ate bacon, this would be it." [NYer]

According to Ryan Sutton, "Fatty ’Cue threatens to undermine the skinny-jean industry in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg ’hood." But the "blubbery, under-rendered lard" in the unevenly cooked meats is a "level of lipids [that] can overwhelm even the stomachs of professional eaters." [Bloomberg]

"Brooklyn is becoming a center for urban pie baking," notes Ed Levine in his double review of Four & Twenty Blackbirds and First Prize Pies. "For custard and cream pies, order from First Prize Pies; for a double-crusted fruit pie head to Four and Twenty. Both of them are marrying age-old pie making skills with newfangled pie ideas." [Serious Eats NY]

Gael Greene can't help but compare the Lion to the Waverly Inn: "The biscuits are actually better here," she notes. "The asparagus with soft boiled egg is lushly sensuous and the pork chop (on second try) is a singular triumph." [Insatiable Critic]