This week, Sam Sifton awarded one star to Faustina, even though he liked the food very much:
The restaurant offers what may be the city’s best pork chop, a shoebox-size Berkshire behemoth currently recommended for two or more diners; it might serve four, and happily. You can find a wealth of interesting raw-bar small bites and bread-dippers, delicate salads and ridiculously hearty, delicious pastas.
On hand is a wine list that affords a chance to drink well at reasonable prices, up and down Italy. This being a hotel restaurant, you can have lunch, even breakfast — some oatmeal, perhaps, or a protein shake.
But no matter the meal, you will eat it uncomfortably, in a tough concrete dining room that juts off a large bar crowded with tall tables, in what is unmistakably an institutional setting, down to the space on the check where you can sign the bill to your room.
Sifton also dings the place for a “small plates” format that is being phased out, although Recette, which has that format, received two stars.
We subscribe to the view, best articulated by our friend Sneakeater, that the Times doesn’t review food, it reviews restaurants. Service and ambiance count. The whole package counts. But this is perhaps the severest “ambiance penalty” we can recall—in terms of stars—for a restaurant whose food he clearly liked.
We also, quite frankly, see very little difference between the “institutional setting” at Faustina and that at Colicchio & Sons, where Sifton inexplicably awarded three stars.
Eater had predicted one star, and wins $2, while we lose $1, on our hypothetical bets.
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Life-to-date, New York Journal is 80–36 (69.0%).