I came down with a cold on Tuesday, and didn’t get around to posting a Review Preview: a pity, as New York Journal needed a win, and we would have correctly predicted Sam Sifton’s verdict on A Voce Columbus: two stars:
There are two A Voce restaurants in New York City. One opened in 2006, off Madison Square Park. It is dark and almost romantic, loud when crowded, pretty after a fashion, perfectly good. The other opened in September on the third floor of the Time Warner Center, in the space that used to be Café Gray. The second restaurant is bright and airy, loud when crowded, pretty after a fashion, also perfectly good…
But make no mistake. A Voce is a corporate enterprise, part of a master plan, and feels like it. Save for swiveling yourself around in the Eames-y leather chairs that appoint both restaurants, there is very little room for improvisation. Service is clinical, almost silent, beyond language. Wine is what a chairman would expect, what most would order: a lot of big California cabernets, excellent chardonnays.
Sifton clearly visited the downtown site. It’s a pity he didn’t squeeze in two more meals there, so that he could re-rate A Voce Madison in the same review. It’s abundantly clear that he thinks the two are interchangeable, but A Voce Madison remains on the Times’s list of three-star restaurants, courtesy of an air-kiss blown their way by Frank Bruni in 2006. That was with Andrew Carmellini as chef, and even then it was over-rated.