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Jonathan Gold Wishes Pasadena’s New Maestro Had More Soul

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But it’s still a mostly positive review of the Mexican restaurant


This week, Jonathan Gold takes on Maestro, a new Mexican restaurant in Old Pasadena by Danny Godinez. Godinez, a talented chef with “three-Michelin star” ambitions, is the man behind Orange County’s Anepalco, a Mexican restaurant with food that is “dominated by the themes of big flavors, clean preparations and restraint.”

The cooking at Maestro demonstrates similar characteristics, as is demonstrated by a barbacoa that is “very, very good — more delicate than its counterparts, slightly stringy, and without the insanely delicious pockets of fat that burst on your tongue, but still lovely and substantial.” The Goldster also recommends the precisely prepared corn discs called picadas and scallops with huitlacoche rice that “may be as close as you can get to truffled risotto within the context of Mexican cuisine.”

Sadly, the Times critic ends with some pretty disheartening words for the restaurant, complaining that the whole thing feels a little too dainty:

Would you rather be eating your chicken mole at Guelaguetza, your duck carnitas at Eagle Rock’s CaCao or your tamal at Broken Spanish? Probably. Sometimes one perfect tortilla per person isn’t quite enough. As clean as the preparations, as ambitious as the interpretation of regional flavors, sometimes you want Mexican cooking to be more soulful than precise, to smack you across the head with intensity, funk and heat. [LAT]