Entries in Marc Forgione (4)


American Cut

Chef Marc Forgione was perturbed when I suggested, in my review of Khe-Yo, that he was expanding rapidly with concepts that could run on auto-pilot.

He must have thought I was saying nobody is running them, which of course is not the case. Although I did not like Khe-Yo, I praised the service, which does not happen by accident. Somebody runs these places. I’m not sure Forgione does.

If he does, he might want to explain why the online menu at his new Tribeca steakhouse, American Cut, is posted without prices, a cynical ploy that I find downright insulting. The posted menu is a PDF facsimile of what is handed out at the restaurant. Someone had to do the extra work to take the prices off it.

Actually, prices are in line with other premium steakhouses in town. Such places are opening everywhere lately; they always do in an economic recovery. In a recent round-up of new steakhouses, the Post’s Steve Cuozzo ranked American Cut fifth out of nine—mediocre. That’s about right.

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Marc Forgione has made the transition awfully quickly. I mean, from chef to restaurateur.

Not long ago, all he had was the formerly Michelin-starred Marc Forgione, where I’ve never been very impressed. Not that I disliked it, but the accolades seemed over-done.

Then, three months ago he opened the Laotian-themed Khe-Yo, followed soon thereafter by American Cut, a steakhouse, both within a few blocks’ radius of the first restaurant. It’s a good way to branch out, as the steakhouse can run on auto-pilot, and the chef at Khe-Yo is a former sous-chef of his, Soulayphet Schwader. It’s a Forgione restaurant in name only.

The dining room isn’t my kind of place: dark and gloomy, a thumping sound track, overly loud. It was full when I arrived for an 8:00pm reservation; our table wasn’t ready until 8:20. The nine-seat bar was full, at first, and there was nowhere to wait.

But for what it is, the service here is very good. The staff apologized profusely, and repeatedly, for seating us late. Once I finally got a bar seat, the tab was transferred to our table. I wouldn’t choose to go back, but if it’s your type of spot, you’ll be well cared for.

The menu is just 14 items (plus one special) in three categories: salads ($11–15), appetizers ($9–13) and entrees ($21–33). I assume these dishes are Laotian (a cuisine I’ve never tried before), but only in New York would the names of the purveyors be added to the name. Khy-Yo serves not just any beef jerky, but Creekstone Farms Beef Jerky.

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Marc Forgione

I visited Marc Forgione this week with colleagues from Chicago, who invited me to dinner, and—as is often the case—asked me to pick the restaurant. They were buying, which made the choice a bit awkward: deciding how someone else’s money would be spent. It needed to be a solid choice, without seeming to take advantage.

Marc Forgione had been in the back of my mind ever since it won a star in the 2010 Michelin Guide. With its rustic chic decor and seasonal cooking, it’s the kind of New York place that out-of-town visitors would like. Prices don’t break the bank, with entrées in the high $20s and low $30s.

I visited Marc Forgione two years ago, when it was called Forge. The cuisine struck me as solid neighborhood bistro food. Nothing wrong with that, but not Michelin territory. Frank Bruni apparently felt the same, denying it a full review in lieu of the Dining Briefs treatment.

My colleagues loved it, but I still don’t get the Michelin star. A Caesar salad was pedestrian. The dressing had been applied in the kitchen, leaving the lettuce slightly soggy by the time it reached the table. It was a basic salad that anyone could do at home—probably even me.

Sea bass was more impressive, a tender rectangle of fish with a crisp crust. The menu, however, had described it as “whole crispy red snapper.” The server advised that the kitchen was substituting bass for snapper, but did nothing to alter the impression that it was a whole fish—which it was not.

Both dishes seemed a tad over-salted, as I recall from my previous visit. Unlike my previous visit, there is no amuse-bouche. The bread service remains first-rate, with pillowy-soft rolls straight out of the oven.

The restaurant may be holding its own, if exactly thriving: All-you-can-eat pork sliders are just $16 on Tuesday evenings, with all-you-can-drink Brooklyn Lager for $14. It was not crowded on a Wednesday evening either, and it is practically always available on OpenTable.

Marc Forgione (134 Reade Street between Greenwich & Hudson Streets, TriBeCa)

Food: *
Ambiance: *
Service: **
Overall: *



Sam Horine via Eater

Note: Forge has been renamed Marc Forgione, after an unrelated Miami restaurant complained that it had the original name trademarked. Click here for a more recent review.

Forge is the brainchild of Marc Forgione, whose more famous father, Larry Forgione, has been a big-name chef for thirty years. Son Marc has worked as a second fiddle in a number of places, most recently as Executive Chef at Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Prime.

I always say that if you want a successful restaurant, you should open near a bunch of other successful restaurants. Forgione followed that advice—not that he asked me—and opened right in the heart of TriBeCa. The look is the same rustic chic you could swear you’ve seen at about a dozen other places. You’ll have that same feeling about the menu, which offers standard New American bistro food.

As Forgione is not blazing any trails, the only question is whether he is doing the old standards well enough to make Forge better than just a decent neighborhood fallback. I can’t say that he is. The menu doesn’t range far or deep. With just six appetizers ($12–18) and six entrées ($26–34)—plus leg of suckling pig for two ($68)—there is a high premium on getting just about everything right. There are signs of higher aspirations here, but I found the food uneven.

The meal started on a promising note, with a terrific corn soup amuse-bouche. And I could have filled up on warm, soft dinner rolls with caramelized onion butter. If Forgione has learned anything from the BLT franchise, it’s a superb bread service.

The savory courses were a less happy story. A grilled fluke appetizer ($14) and a halibut entrée ($26) both seemed too tart and acidic. The fish were impeccably prepared, but the sauces seemed to overwhelm them with a bitter salty taste that I wouldn’t be eager to sample again.

A cheese plate ($12) was very solidly done, and the house comped a small pour of Sancerre to go with it.

Service was just fine, but I was in quite early, before the crowds. There is a large bar area, suggesting perhaps that management is hedging their bets as to what kind of restaurant this will be. The cocktail program is underwhelming: think raspberry lemonade with vodka. They were out of the sangria I ordered, as their supply of rum had run out.

For now, Forge strikes me as a slightly over-achieving American bistro, fighting for the destination crowd among many other restaurants that do a more dependable job at the same type of food.

Forge (134 Reade Street between Greenwich & Hudson Streets, TriBeCa)

Food: *
Ambiance: *
Service: *
Overall: *