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 returns to his favorite pastime, Italian cuisine. The victim, er, beneficiary will be Jonathan Waxman’s Meatpacking-adjacent Barbuto. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):
Zero Stars: 4-1
One Star: 2-1 √√
Two Stars: 4-1
Three Stars: 50-1
Four Stars: 25,000-1
The Skinny: Barbuto received a mixed $25-and-under review from Eric Asimov in April 2004. Those were the days when that column regularly covered real restaurants, but even then I thought that Barbuto deserved a rated review. With entrées in the mid-twenties nowadays, Barbuto is squarely in Bruni’s price range.
Historically, most of Bruni’s promotions from $25-and-under have received two stars (Freemans being the notorious counter-example). The rationale, I suppose, is that if a restaurant is merely average—which is the current de facto meaning of one star—it makes little sense to waste space on a place that has already been reviewed.
Another Brunitrend® is that restaurants usually aren’t re-reviewed unless there is something substantially new to say. If you take Asimov’s review as the rough equivalent of one star (though Asimov never expressly said that), then two stars is a likely outcome, given that Barbuto is highly unlikely to get the goose egg.
Bruni has been extremely kind to Italian restaurants—though there are a few notable exceptions. It also seems to be his default cuisine, which he reviews when he can’t find anything else. That could mean that Barbuto is in line for a two-star bouquet, but it could also mean that Bruni is bored.
The main argument for one star, as Eater notes, is that Barbuto is notoriously uneven. It also carries one star on this blog, for whatever that’s worth.
The Bet: We don’t have a strong feeling about this one, but most of the Brunitrends® point to the higher rating, so we are betting that Frank Bruni will award two stars to Barbuto.