After bemoaning the lack of good midtown restaurants the Post's Steve Cuozzo tries one this week and walks out with the best nasty review of the week. The whole Casa Nonna review is a classic take down (the porny lede in particular is magic) so we'll just cut to a few of the goodies: "Tedium, not sex, reigns after dark at Casa Nonna, the alarming new face of Midtown dining." "Crafted to feed Times Square’s tourist masses and guests of the West 30s’ budget-traveler hotels, it is People’s Exhibit No. 1 that the city’s great interpretive-Italian tide has ebbed." "Gloomy dark wood and endless pleated banquettes suggest a chain steakhouse invaded by a blazing pizza oven." Also? The joint's "remote, dark corners are 'a great place to fire someone.'"
On the more positive side of things, the Times's Sam Sifton went to Midtown's "wee little restaurant" Danji and had a solid one-star time. It isn't a place for meetings ("unless your business involves knees touching and the thrill of discovery") but the food is delicious if you are in the mood to graze. Just eat all those small plates (and all the dishes are small) quickly as they've got a fast turnover.
Over at New York, Adam Platt files a twofer that gives solid one star reviews to Upper West Sider Hospoda and the Birreria beer garden above Eataly. The first, a Czech gastropub, serves Pilsner Urquell in a "variety of esoteric, nontraditional ways" and the barkeep "looks like an extra from the set of Game of Thrones." As for the food? The only problem is that "there isn't quite enough of it." As for Mario Batali's beer garden, "Like many of the dining operations at Eataly, this one feels jerry-rigged and haphazard, until the meal arrives." The beers "are competent by today’s brew-snob standards" and the meats and fitti are delicious. The desserts, however, are "negligible."
Meanwhile at Bloomberg, Ryan Sutton is not as charmed by the new Leopard at des Artistes as his peers have been, giving it one-and-a-half stars (half off because of the noise). "The lights have been kicked up a few notches. The menu’s nods to Vienna and Paris are banished. The Leopard is just another Italian spot with noisy hardwood floors and tight seating." But hey! "At least Howard Chandler Christy’s naked nymphs still frolic with satyrs on the muraled walls."
Finally, at Time Out Jay Cheshes dug the Thai fare at Zabb Elee in the East Village enough to award it three stars. "The low-key basement spot focuses on the fiery, funky foods of northern Thailand, and the roster is a challenging one, with categories like tod (fried meats), som tum (papaya salads) and yang (grilled meats) making up the more than five dozen choices. You wanted real Thai food, it taunts, let’s see what you’ve got." While he says you can "find food of this caliber in Thai enclaves out in Queens, on this side of the river it’s still a real treat. For Manhattanites itching to move past pad thai, Zabb Elee is a restaurant worth returning to again and again."