Has anyone else been following the controversy surrounding John Mariani, the food writer who just named O-Ku one of the best new restaurants in the nation?

In recent years, Mariani has become reviled by chefs and restaurateurs in New York and Chicago and even called out by the LA Times for perceived ethical lapses. In his current book, Anthony Bourdain calls Mariani “a professional junketeer” and “one-man schnorrer” and makes fun of him for providing his own personal daiquiri recipe to bartenders.

Mariani’s editor at Esquire wrote a rebuttal to the blog Grub Street last year that said Mariani writes “only about places he’s enthusiastic about. He doesn’t use fake names or disguise himself. He just travels an awful lot, eats a ton of meals at restaurants, and makes recommendations. He has a deep appreciation of good food, and he loves to share the highlights of his experiences. … John has worked very hard to make sure that if he even thinks he’s eating at a place that might make our list, he pays the full bill.”

Regardless of the animosity towards Mariani, national coverage for a local restaurant is always a good thing. Congrats to O-Ku for making the short list in Esquire. They’re smart enough over there to know how to capitalize on that attention.