The Bruni Digest

In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe. This blog is predicated on the suggestion that every Wednesday, in the Times Dining Out section, Frank lays a huge faberge egg of hilarity.

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Location: New York, New York, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am fiscally irresponsible, which means I have weak bones and a dorsal fin. And a penchant for dining out, even though I am, in the words of many rich people, a "poor people". I make a different face when speaking each of the foreign languages in which I am shittily proficient.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Del Posto: Totally Down to Earth (if "Earth" is Rare Etruscan Marble)

If you read the Digest for the uncompromised idiocy and care nothing about the New York dining scene, it may interest you to know that Del Posto has been the subject of much word-of-mouth shittings-on, and a good deal of gossip about landlord strife and air vents (all that juicy stuff!) Throw in the fact that Frank did a PR piece about the opening not long ago, and the fact that Batali is the reigning NYC chef/restaurateur (in celebrity if not in numbers) and this week’s review, like your fat "fun" uncle Kevin who insists on doing cannon balls at the pool party, is going to make a big splash, at the risk of giving some people concussions.

Frank alludes to the negative gossip right off the bat:

“I hear a lot of grousing that Del Posto feels soulless and spurious, that it's the culinary equivalent of an epic Hollywood folly: Dishtar.” I cannot believe Frank made that joke instead of Del Postman.

“Hmmm, I’m not seeing the intersection of Hubris and Baffling Studio Approval …Oh yes! Here it is! I’m standing on it! Hahaha, you handsome nincompoop!!!”

But still, the tone of the whole review feels like the Count is defending the honor of a wronged lady, to the point of accusing us New Yorkers of being small-minded.

I plead "No Contest."

Batali and his business partner, Joe Bastianich “have crumpled up page after page of the script that made their previous ventures so beloved and written a new libretto, emphasizing refined notes over rustic ones, sacrificing hip on the altar of elegant.”

In other words, that downtowny, accessible, rockery goodness that we know and maybe love as Babbo and Lupa and Otto etc., has been replaced with a totally different operational philosophy:

“Spacious and tranquil, with a piano player in place of a rock soundtrack, Del Posto is the anti-Babbo, the un-Lupa.” The a-Otto. The de-Esca. The Bistro du Venticide. We get it. There will not be enormo hamhocks curing from farm-like rafters. Let’s move on.

Now in partnership with Bastianich’s mama Lidia, the “two men have challenged New Yorkers to accept Italian cuisine presented with fastidious rituals and opulent trappings usually reserved for French fare.”

Rituals and trappings usually reserved for French fare and for Edwardian dance reenactors, that is.


“Del Posto dares to speak in an unfamiliar idiom, only to be told it has a phony accent.”
Thank you Confuciou-- I mean, Frank.

The fancy gallic trappings of the Del Posto would set the stage for a real reaming if it weren’t for the food, which charms the pants off Frank (don’t worry! He’s wearing a lace petticoat underneath!) :

Del Posto’s fare is “distinguished by first-rate ingredients (the arugula here makes arugula at many other restaurants seem like iceberg in drag)”


The rustic authenticity doesn’t stop with the greens:

“Mr. Batali's love of offal finds expression in pici, a sort of fat Tuscan spaghetti, with coxcombs, chicken livers, duck testicles and, for conventional decadence, black truffles.”

You may protest that there is no such thing as duck testicle—after all, ducks aren’t mammals! And only mammals have testicles! But he is speaking of a special Italian duck, which doesn’t cross borders.

The Italian Great Balled Mallard struggles to cross even the narrowest streets.

So despite the classiness of the decor, you see, the food is straightforward—not exactly what Giuseppe Schmoe eats every day after cobbling together Fiats, but at least innocent of obnoxious frippery:

“Mr. Batali, Ms. Bastianich and the executive chef, Mark Ladner, tend not to go off on precious, rococo tangents.”

I’ll be the first to say Thank Goodness! I mean, I love Rococo, but…

Batali's tender nipplets make me ill, like a first-time seafarer.

“The potent appeal of a mixed grill with pork loin, a lamb chop, quail and a goose sausage hinges on the kitchen's care with these elements, not on a flurry of embellishments.”
Indeed. What could be simpler? What could be less embellished than a huge meat pile? It fed the dinosaurs, the simple spear-toting cavemen, and the homos erecti for millennia.

See? Not embellished at ALL!!! Ha!…ahem.

“In a disconcerting and sometimes disappointing fashion, dining at Del Posto can demand more than a generous budget and several hours. It can require a quorum.”

Quorum, of course, from the Latin for “liquor,” being a small copper hipflask, usually kept in a woman’s garter or between her breasts in some sort of girdle.
For those unused to girdles, a simple codpiece will suffice.

This one's very affordable, and it's L.L. Bean so there's a lifetime guarantee in case you lose a penis stud.

"Ms. Bastianich can be seen and heard whisking the zabaglione in a copper pot, and the incessant clanging, coupled with the tinkling of the piano, quickly teeters into parody."

I've been known to hooter into parody, but never teeter. Frankly it sounds cheezy. But for Frank, the physical luxury of the place amounts to space and quiet as much as gold trim and marble:

“It also affords real room to maneuver between tables, enough quiet to facilitate conversation…”

You see Frank, much like Silkymuff and Pooter here, has sensitive ears.

So in the end, those of us who were foolish enough to predict a slaying of Del Posto were wrong, and Mario, the eponymous Spotted Pig, now has a second 3-star in his woefully underpigmented crown:
"...why bristle at the pageantry, so long as the pleasure is intact?"

SPEAKING OF INTACT PLEASURE! Check out this short, hilarious video by my sketch comedy group. It literally includes a real kangaroo and several boobs, although they are covered in bras and shirts. I play the irascible "Carla".

Also, I'll be out of the country for the next two weeks on an extradition--OOPS! I meant exPEdition, sorryHAHAHA I HAVEN'T ROBBED ANY BANKS IN BERLIN AND I'M NOT BEING FORCIBLY BROUGHT BEFORE JUSTICE, THAT'S PREPOSTEROUS! HA! How you make me chuckle, reader!-- and during this time, my fellow sketch comedian and writer Mike "The Velveteen Faggot" will helm the Digest. As I will one day trust him to care for the fatherless bastard that will at some point tumble out of me at Pathmark, so I entrust him with this, my precious baby blog.


Anonymous Plainsman said...

Interesting backstory, but as of this week my big question for Bruni is: what do we have to do in order to see some more reviews of Italian restaurants, Frank?

8:30 PM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger Justin Kreutzmann said...

those restaurant's have to watch the charm...nobody needs to see Bruni with his pants off.

11:05 PM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger agendaboy said...

Yikes. The Count's gushing even more than usual...James Lipton would be proud. Not to mention refusing to "bristle at the pageantry"! Perhaps La Bruni is nursing a little boy-crush on Mario? Either that or the place knows Frank already and makes sure to pamper him. Whatever.

OK, now for some gushing of my own: if you're in the area and haven't done so already, run-don't-walk and see Doody Calls - I went last Friday and laughed my ass off. Show some love, peeps!

Jules, have a great time! Mike has some big shoes to fill while you're gone...

11:52 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

Thanks, agendaboy!

A good point: Doody Calls is Friday nights at 8:00 THROUGH MARCH at the PIT (People's Improv Theater) on 29th between 6th and 7th. I'm in it this week, then for the next two weeks I will be played by co-producer Sarah Schaeffer (she's hilare) and then I'm back for the last 2 shows.

I'm slowly learning just how fungible I really am: easily! All we have to do is find someone to spoon my boyfriend, and I can light myself on fire once and for all.

12:06 PM, March 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was Billy the Often Broken Leg Guy in the Library Musical/Lecture Musical videos from Prangstgrup fame? Because that makes me happy.

BTW you knocked the arugula in drag out of the park. I mean Bruni made it easy, but you really took it to the next level of sublime ridiculousness. Hats off.

12:45 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Jules said...

Yes, anonymous genius! Billy the Broken Leg Guy IS Library/Lecture Musical Guy, AND none other than the Mike Barry who will be guest writing the Digest in my absence.

What a small world, like a Korn Nut, or a Duck Testicle!

1:05 PM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger S said...

So when's your group going on nationwide tour? Show us folks in the Heartland some sketchy love, will you?

Yeah, I know I should get to NYC someday, but the buggy axle's broken and I have to fight off a few cattle rustlers.

4:28 PM, March 03, 2006  
Blogger K said...

Oh lord I'm on the floor laughing at your brilliance.

When will you start giving food courses so that I may sign up? My one attribute was that I was accepted as a cheese intern at Artisinal, and with the upgrade to spend a week sheepfarming upstate, but alas, I had the rent to pay instead...

1:10 PM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger K said...

My other post somehow got deleted--but your writing is hilarious and left me on the floor.

When will you start giving food courses? The closest I got was acceptance into the cheese intern program at Artisinal, with the upgrade to sheepfarming for a week upstate, but alas, there were bills to pay instead...

1:18 PM, March 08, 2006  

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