Leslie Brenner revisited Oak: Brenner re-reviews the Design District dining destination following the departure of chef Jason Maddy. "When [new chef Richard] Gras' cooking is at its best, dinner at Oak can still feel like the place to be," but she theorizes he's still "trying to find his own voice as a cook." Dishes like a huge pork chop "bursting with flavor" and a "carefully cooked beef tenderloin" atop silky potato puree dazzle, but she's less than impressed by his handling of wild mushrooms ("seemingly oily and dried out at the same time") and a disappointing foie gras dish. A new pastry chef will arrive next week, but for now, Gras "makes an admirable molten chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream." Overall, Brenner "look[s] forward to seeing how Gras develops as a chef." Three stars. [DMN]
Scott Reitz went to Zoli's NY Pizza: Jay Jerrier's newest pizza venture is turning out "what at times can be some of the best New York-style pizza in town." The pies are "a mishmash of styles and qualities borrowed from several pizzerias in Brooklyn," and when cooked properly (that is, crispy), "the results are a revelation." Order by the slice for best results, though; whole pies often come out droopy, "blond-crusted and doughy" (though requesting a well-done pie can mostly fix this). Go for the fried artichokes over the fried zucchini, which "quickly fall limp," and be sure to try the white pizza. [Observer]
Anna Caplan reviewed Max's Wine Dive in Fort Worth: The menu at the Houston-based chain's second DFW location in the trendy West 7th district "walks the line between decadent and deliriously rich" with dishes like pan borracho ("a savory, salty bread pudding"), "crunchy, juicy" fried chicken, and "spot-on blackened diver scallops" over fried green tomatoes. Less successful is an underdressed, wilted Caesar and an "insanely large" fried egg sandwich with an excess of truffle oil, but there's certainly no shortage of beverage options, with more than 30 wines by the glass. Service is perhaps "a shade too familiar for a place that has entrees hovering around $25," but overall it's part of the contradictory charm at Max's, where the slogan is "Fried chicken and champagne... Why the hell not?" [DFW.com]
ELSEWHERE: The Taco Trail tried Taqueria Guanajuato in Denton; TMBBQ trekked out to Baker's Ribs in Weatherford; Fort Worth Weekly went to Lucile's Stateside Bistro; SideDish ate the new fall menu at Max's Wine Dive in Uptown; City of Ate critiqued State Fair food; DFW.com reviewed Mama Cuca's in Mansfield.