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Blade Looks Sharp, Tastes Flat; Barolo: Best Looking Food In Town

Lee Klein likes the looks of Blade but says "It probably isn't the best restaurant to take anyone serious about food either." Drinking, however, is another story. "Blade is well suited for any type of alcoholic imbibing." And as impressive as the illuminated "interactive iPad-style menus" are, "the content has gotten much duller since the restaurant opened." As for the sushi, "you won't catch anything cutting edge," though the nigiri/sashimi items were "superfresh and adeptly prepared." A seared scallop provided Klein's one and only "wow moment," and the cheesecake lollipops were good, although, "Like so much about Blade, the cheesecake pops look pretty---but when you cut through the glitz, they are really nothing special." [MNT]

Victoria Pesce Elliott takes on Barolo Ristorante, "a fairly recent reincarnation of a dysfunctional 2-year-old spot of the same name," which "has been trying to reinvent itself one gnocchi at a time." VPE gives an A for effort to its "sexy dining room, earnest waiters and handmade everything." Free valet parking is a big perk too, but "the prices--$27 for a shrimp risotto, $30 for pounded veal--won't let you forget where you are." The food "by Lindsay Spalding, a young chef who worked under television terror Gordon Ramsay for nine years, is some of the best-looking in town," and dishes "look ready for the cover of Food & Wine." Quality of ingredients "is above par, too." Among the dishes that worked: "Signature cappellaci di carciofino – a pair of glossy, egg-yellow pasta purses stuffed with a velvety puree of artichoke, ricotta cheese & dried tomatoes and sauced in a sea of oil with capers and bitter baby arugula,""Colorful, well-composed and competently cooked sweat pea and prawn risottos," "linguine alla vongole with a generous compliment of perky clams, expertly timed noodles and perfectly peppery, chile-flecked seasoning," "Branzino with an earthy harissa dressing." What didn't work? "Greasy and golden brown gnocchi with an off-putting brown carrot and parsley sauce," "uneven and inappropriately friendly waiter service," "overcooked squid ink tagliatelli with crab and garlic," and "monkfish as grisly as an old steak." Verdict? Two stars. [MH]