Admit it, you were a little surprised when Robert Nadeau of the Boston Phoenix gave Gennaro's 5 North Square the full four stars. The restaurant seeks to elevate Italian-American cooking to the level of popularity enjoyed by other breeds of fusion, which it technically is, but that's no small task. To gauge how Gennaro's stacks up among Nadeau's other recent experiences at Italian restaurants, take a look at these leading sentences from some of his latest reviews.
Gennaro's: "In year of bad restaurant ideas (often done well), this the worst idea — and best meal — yet."
Vito's Tavern: "Vito's Tavern, in yet another proof of subatomic symmetry, is a cascade of bad ideas gone largely right.
Vapiano: "In a year of bad restaurant ideas done surprisingly well, Vapiano is a mediocre idea done disastrously." [BP]
The Globe's Devra First gives the newish Nix's Mate in the Financial District Hilton two stars, which is not bad considering it's a newish restaurant in a Hilton in the Financial District. The disparate but appetizing fried Maine lobster caramel prematurely sweeps the "award for strangest and most strangely compelling lobster dish of the year." First teases out the dish's various influences, sighting "Vietnam, New England, and the kingdom of Bong-landia." However "diverse flavors do not always play well together," as in a protein-overwhelmed flatbread that could have been "some kind of odd stoned genius" but instead "seems like two pizzas merged into one, a flatbread version of Jeff Goldblum in The Fly." Hmm... nope, don't want to eat that. [BG]
Globe food editor Sheryl Julian has little praise for JP's Grass Fed, which she reviews for the latest Cheap Eats column. A burger earns all the wrong adjectives: "overdone, hard, and tasteless." The buns are "gummy" and seem underdone and onion rings are "unbelievably greasy," though the shake is "a godsend," perhaps aided by its contrast to nearly everything else. [BG]
Boy did Cassandra Landy of the Boston Phoenix not enjoy Rosa Mexicano in the Seaport District. Though "the cocktails were good" they seem low on alcohol, the atmosphere feels "tense," the much-touted tableside guacamole lacks everything but avocado, raw yellowtail tacos are "fishy," plates drop, promotions are plugged, service is inconsistent, and churros arrive raw inside. Given the experience, it's also "Way, way, over-priced." [BP]
Two publications take on Inman Square's All Star Pizza Bar this week: the Serious Eats pizza blog Slice and Dig Boston. Both are satisfied, to varying degrees. Slice ranks the cheese pie as New Yorkesque, saying "It had a nice thin, crisp crust as a solid base with plenty of flop at the tip, a crisp but not overly dry cornicione, and plenty of chew under the tooth throughout." Dig Boston is more effusive, saying "I wouldn’t be doing the pizza justice if I said it was simply good: it was fantastic." [Slice, DB]