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Bauer Is Confused By Nostra; Kane Broed Out at Spaghetti Bros.

Plus, Anna Roth headed to Bini’s Kitchen and Luke Tsai reviewed Blackwater Station.

Nostra Spaghetteria

Michael Bauer showed how hip he is with a reference to J.Lo in his review this week of Nostra, chef Alexander Alioto’s Italian restaurant in the Mission. He thought the menu was "confusing," since it allows diners to mix and match their own pasta. Of the chef-created dishes, he enjoyed the seafood soup with its "hint of heat" and most of the main courses, but found the presentation "incongruous." The burger, which is topped with Alioto’s signature raviolo was "one of the strangest burgers [he’s] ever encountered." "It’s as if Alioto can’t quite fully embrace the pasta house concept and is trying to please all levels of diners," Bauer wrote. 2 stars. [The Chron]

The years have "frayed" Chow, Bauer concluded in his update review this week. "The food showed glimmers of its former self, but ultimately disappointed," he wrote. While he liked the chicken noodle soup and wedge salad, he found the spaghetti and meatballs, grilled organic half chicken and pizza "bland." As for service, it was "good on one visit, perfunctory on another." 2 stars. [The Chron]

Peter Kane headed to Spaghetti Bros. in the Mission and appreciated "what Spaghetti Bros. aims for: upscale but not stuffy, romantic but not florid, louche but not shady." Foodwise, Kane enjoyed the "smoky" rigatoni with short rib sugo and "smash" butterflied Gulf prawns. On the other hand, the duck breast scallopini, while "flavorful," also included "limp, taste-free" cabbage. However, "most of the dishes were truly excellent" and while he recommended trying it, he concluded that, "It's the packaging that falters. Nostalgia is cool, but any attempt to mail-merge the hip with the instantly nostalgic is probably an impossible circle to square." [SF Weekly]

The new brick-and-mortar location of Bini’s Kitchen got a visit from Anna Roth, who uncovered a touching story behind the Nepalese food served there. Nepalese food is similar to Indian and Chinese, but has slightly different spices that make dishes "seem familiar but are different, a new color in the Asian cuisine palette." "Addictive" momos, or meat and vegetable dumplings, are Bini’s calling card, as well as a few curries that have a "creamy dreaminess," and the food is among the cheaper options in the Financial District. [The Chron]

Luke Tsai visited Blackwater Station in Oakland, which he called "more of a craft cocktail bar than anything else," despite having what he thought was some really good food. His favorite of all the dishes was the "soft as clouds or pillows" pork shoulder meatballs, as well as the "tender" braised beef cheek. All in all, the chef "mostly succeeds in creating dishes that are bold but still well balanced." [East Bay Express]