By David Minsky
By Jen Mangham
By Bill Wisser
By Laine Doss
By Bill Wisser
By Dana De Greff
By Laine Doss
By Zachary Fagenson
Here's my beef: As I've mentioned, an eight-ounce center-cut A-5 Kobe rib eye fillet is $190. The same size cut of American Kobe goes for $145. A global Wagyu trio, for two to three people, is $325. Nebraska corn-fed steaks from Chicago's Stock Yards, each rubbed with "DeVito Dust" (bread crumbs, seasonings, fresh herbs), run $38 to $72. I started at the bottom rung of the scale with a sliced American Kobe flat-iron steak, which proved less well marbled than well gristled. It also arrived rare rather than the requested medium-rare. You know how some people like to say venison tastes like beef? This beef, with its mildly gamey and distinctively meaty flavor, tasted like venison (which steak aficionados will appreciate). On a return dinner, I worked my way up to a 10-ounce barrel-cut filet mignon ($44) — this time plated rare rather than medium. Still, it was a tender, satisfying steak, if a little overdusted.
While I was perusing a menu weeks before visiting DeVito, visions of an $8 lobster béarnaise steak garnish danced in my head. By the time we dined here, the price had jumped to $15, which is more than I am willing to pay for an emulsion — at least until I sell my first screenplay (it's going to be about a restaurant just like this one, called Throw Brauser from the Train). I settled for a sweet/tart combo of roast garlic and plum mostarde, plucked from a wide array of supplemental sauces available for $3 apiece. It was tasty, but it wasn't lobster béarnaise. For those desiring a more substantial crustacean fix, a quartet of lobster dishes goes for "market price." A three-and-a-half-pound Maine lobster, stuffed with shellfish, is currently marketed at $135; a 12-ounce Florida lobster tail oreganata is $90.
Which brings me to the 10-ounce Kobe burger, a mere $25. It was a double-decker abbondanza of dry, overcooked meat (medium-well rather than the requested medium-rare) capped with barely caramelized onions and melted provolone. A cup of pizzaiola sauce comes on the side, though some diners might prefer ketchup, lettuce, and tomato. Thin, pale, Mickey D's-style fries that also accompany the burger are trumpeted as "truffled parmesan fries," but lacked truffle taste. And is it really too much to ask that the kitchen crew cut up fresh potatoes to produce something better than the fare cheap burger chains sell?
At least this entrée came with an accompaniment. For almost everything else, you might consider a heftily portioned side plate of vegetables or starch such as roasted cauliflower gratin or fregula pearls of pasta toasted and tossed with peas, grilled corn, and pecorino cheese. Add $12 for each.
Linguine alle vongole gets crowned with clams on the half shell crumbed with that DeVito dust, which is sprinkled on nearly every dish. Underneath the shells, in clam broth, lays pasta tossed with broccoli rabé, garlic, and too many sun-dried tomatoes. Spaghetti alla Piemontese, a tangle of sweet peas, prosciutto, and Vidalia onions, with grated pecorino and ricotta salata cheeses, was dry and vapid and — worse — something a novice could whip up at home, better, in minutes. A plank of broiled wild salmon, although glazed with truffled honey mustard and matched with crunchy fennel shavings, was likewise flat and uninspired. Promised pomegranate, which would have contributed an alluring tartness, was nowhere to be found.
A custardy tiramisu classico with rum-laden ladyfingers and chocolate shavings pleased, but an intensely butterscotchy butterscotch budino (pudding) was overly sweet, even without the butterscotch syrup and whipped cream floated across the surface.
Framed and hung on the restaurant's brick walls are some half-dozen high-def TV screens, all but one or two simultaneously tuned to the same DeVito movie (the exceptions beaming a flickering electronic fireplace). These films only remind us that when it comes to acting, Danny really has the chops. And you needn't be a VIP to appreciate them.