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Rolling the Dice: Sfoglia

Every week, we take our turn with Lady Luck on the BruniBetting odds as posted by Eater. Just for kicks, we track Eater’s bet too, and see who is better at guessing what the unpredictable Bruni will do. We track our sins with an imaginary $1 bet every week.

The Line: Tomorrow, Frank Bruni reviews Sfoglia, an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side. Eater’s official odds are as follows:

Zero Stars: 4-1
One Star: 3-1
Two Stars: 6-1
Three Stars: 400-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1

The Skinny: Folks, this is a tough one. For the second week in a row, we are torn between one and two stars.

Several times, Bruni has given two stars to small Italian restaurants. He clearly has a soft spot for the genre. He also has a soft spot for restaurants in neighborhoods where the fine-dining options are scarce, which is precisely the case at Lexington & 92nd. Like last week, this is a restaurant that opened quite a while ago. He doesn’t have to review it; he’s choosing to review it, and that usually means he has Something Important to say. Bruni’s “choose to” reviews have been, more often than not, two stars.

But Bruni already wrote a blog entry about Sfoglia over seven months ago, shortly after Adam Platt’s rave review in New York. He found “a mix of delights and disappointments,” along with “brusqueness and haughtiness.” Indeed, I found similar glitches when I reviewed Sfoglia in September. Bruni noted that restaurants sometimes flounder when they can’t handle the sudden influx of curious diners after a favorable review comes out.

It is rare that a restaurant can overcome a mediocre first impression. But the fact that Bruni is choosing to review it now almost certainly suggests that things have improved — otherwise, why bother? Has Sfoglia improved enough to get over the two-star hump?

The Bet: Adam Platt awarded three stars to Sfoglia. Bruni’s ratings and Platt’s have tracked fairly closely, and as far as I recall, they have never been more than one star apart. We are therefore, for the second week in a row, going out on a limb, and betting (against the Eater odds) that Sfoglia will receive two stars from Frank Bruni.

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