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The Payoff: Gemma

Today, as expected, a clearly bored Frank Bruni awards one star to Gemma:

These are the makings of Gemma, a cheat sheet of a restaurant whose proprietors take fewer risks than a hurricane-insurance agent in Nebraska. They’ve turned to a fundamentally earnest cuisine for calculated purposes, and they know that many diners sprinting to the newest hot spot don’t really want to find anything new. They want reassurance that they’ve mastered what’s worth knowing.

That applied to knockoffs of French bistros and brasseries in past decades and it applies to post-red-sauce evocations of Italian enotecas, osterias and the like in this one. The moment-conscious diner now talks of salumi, not charcuterie, and if he or she is feeling blue, it’s for Gorgonzola more often than Roquefort (with Cabrales making inroads).

You’ve got to remember that at least 80% of diners actually prefer “formula restaurants,” although they tend to bore the critics. Gemma probably wouldn’t have been reviewed, but for the pedigree of its owners. Frank actually found a few dishes he liked: an “impeccable” chicken, a “buttery” branzino. And he loved the space, with tables spaced more generously than usual. All that added up to one star.

Eater and I both both win $1 at even-money odds on our hypothetical one-dollar bets.

          Eater        NYJ
Bankroll $44.50   $48.67
Gain/Loss +1.00   +1.00
Total $45.50   $49.67
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Won–Lost 19–5   18–6

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