Tuned In

BREAKING: Reality Show Winner Gets Actual Job

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We don’t often cover the restaurant business at Tuned In, but we don’t often witness the opening of restaurants from Top Chef winners. Perilla, the eatery run by season 1 winner Harold Dieterle, gets the Frank Bruni review treatment in today’s New York Times. Bruni awards Perilla one star out of four, which if you’re unfamiliar with the Times’ rating system, is actually a decent writeup. (The starless “satisfactory” rating is a killer.) Says Bruni:

Fame on the small screen wasn’t a result of a packed restaurant; his packed restaurant is a result of his fame on the small screen. That’s reality television for you — it scrambles cause and effect, defying the laws of celebrity physics.

But while show business gave Mr. Dieterle his big break, his handling of it — including his reluctance to hold court in his restaurant, as other chefs do in theirs — makes clear that he doesn’t want to be a showman.

Perilla’s television DNA defines it in the opposite way from what you might expect. With its tucked-away setting on a short West Village street, its understated décor and a cautious list of entrees (hanger steak, skate wing, roasted chicken) that could have evolved from some protein focus group, this restaurant amounts to a repudiation of flashy packaging and trumped-up drama. It’s earnest, endearing and just a bit of a snooze: a classy neighborhood place with more pull than Mr. Dieterle’s cooking — accomplished but hardly riveting — justifies.

Maybe Harold could hook Rocco DiSpirito up with a job.

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