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Rolling the Dice: Mia Dona

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 Mia Dona, the latest production of chef Michael Psilakis and restauranteur Donatella Arpaia. The Eater oddsmakers have set the action as follows (√√ denotes the Eater bet):

Zero Stars: 8-1
One Star: 3-1 √√
Two Stars: 4-1
Three Stars: 8-1
Four Stars: 15,000-1

The Skinny: Frank Bruni hearts Michael Psilakis. He has awarded two stars to every one of Psilakis’s New York restaurants to date (Onera, Dona, Anthos). He also adores Kefi—he devoted two blog posts to the mere fact that it was moving—although he delegated its review to $25-and-under columnist Peeter Meehan.

Eater thinks that two stars for Mia Dona is a “hard sell,” given that Mia Dona’s casual vibe and super-low prices put it practically in Meehan’s territory. But that has never stopped Bruni before. He holds the New York Times record for two-star ratings given to $25-and-under restaurants.

Perhaps the most relevant precedent is Ureña, which won two stars from Bruni. It re-opened (after a slight make-over) as Pamplona, with food not quite as good, but prices much gentler on the pocket book. Bruni, once again, awarded two stars.

That’s precisely the situation we have here: Dona was forced to close when Psilakis and Arpaia lost their lease. They moved six blocks away, changed the name, and installed a simpler menu at much humbler prices.

All the pieces are in place for a two-star review. The only question is whether Bruni likes it as much as we did.

The Bet: Given Bruni’s obvious affection for Psilakis’s cooking, the Ureña/Pamplona precedent, and our own high opinion of the place, we are betting that Frank Bruni will award two stars to Mia Dona.

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