Reviewing the Review: Double Dipping at Bar Del Corso

This week, I reviewed Bar del Corso, Jerry Corso's new wood-fired pizza salon in Beacon Hill. Over at The Stranger, so did Bethany Jean Clement.

Although food critics have the same batch of new restaurants to size up for their readers, it's somewhat rare for a restaurant to receive the review treatment twice in one week. Honestly, I wish it happened more frequently.

Critics of most other art forms typically time their reviews to coincide with openings. That's verboten in the restaurant industry, where it's generally understood that a restaurant's first few weeks are the equivalent of a dress rehearsal (even if the restaurant is charging full price for its food and drink, a detail which will probably always irk me).

So restaurant critics have other ways of determining when a review runs: After counting forward one month from a restaurant's opening day, they consult their expense budgets, check the restaurant's hours against their schedules, and confirm they aren't focusing on the same cuisine, neighborhood, or price point two weeks in a row. Sometimes critics at competing publications independently settle on the same issue date, but usually they don't.

That's too bad, because I think it enriches local culinary conversations when readers have multiple perspectives to consider. Does Bar del Corso's pizza suffer from too much salt, as I suggested--" . . . the sophisticated crust's nuances are lost in the cloud of sodium that's sold as a puttanesca"--or does Clement have it right when she maintains "the saltiness had an unusual complexity, with notes of spice and fat and acid and roastiness all hitting your tongue"?

Thanks to the Internet, we can easily compare reviews even when publication schedules don't overlap. But much of the dialogue's urgency is lost when it's left to eaters who care enough to Google five-week-old reviews to parse our conclusions. Bar del Corso is a restaurant deserving of attention, and it's more likely to receive it from a general audience when two critics tackle it in the same week. The situation better mirrors the scenario film critics face every Friday, when they all run reviews of the same movies--and often manage to spark national debates about medical ethics and civil rights in the process.

But those are cerebral considerations. As Allecia Vermillion--who reads our reviews no matter the print date--points out at Eater Seattle, a double helping of "rave-y" reviews also makes it tougher for diners to nab a seat. Fortunately, you'll have plenty of Bar del Corso-themed reading material to keep you occupied while you wait.

Read the full review here.

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