From 1999 to 2001, Wells was a columnist and editor for Food & Wine. Wells was articles editors at Details from 2001 until 2006, when he joined the Times as dining editor. Wells is the recipient of five James Beard awards for food writing.
Wells's scathing 14 November 2012 review of Guy Fieri's American Kitchen and Bar, which consisted entirely of questions about the poor quality of the food, was described by Larry Olmsted of Forbes as "the most scathing review in the history of the New York Times," and "likely the most widely read restaurant review ever." It was the fifth-most-e-mailed New York Times article of 2012. His 2016 review of Per Se, downgrading the restaurant from 4 stars to 2 stars, also attracted wide attention, with an Esquire headline stating: “Why That Per Se Review May Change Fine Dining Forever.” He also attracted considerable attention for his October 29, 2019 zero-star review of Peter Luger.
- "Pete Wells, Restaurant Critic, Answers Readers' Questions". The New York Times. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- Parker, Ian (12 September 2016). "Knives Out: Pete Wells, the Times' Restaurant Critic, wants to have fun -- or else". The New Yorker (p. 46-55).
- "Talk to the Newsroom: Dining Editor Pete Wells". The New York Times. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
- Olmstead, Larry (5 December 2012). "Tables Turned - Top Chefs Review Pete Wells And Other Restaurant Critics". Forbes. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- "Iconic NYC Steakhouse Peter Luger Gets Zero Stars in Scathing New York Times Review". WNBC. October 29, 2019. Archived from the original on October 30, 2019.
- Gardiner, Aidan (October 29, 2019). "Readers Respond to the Pete Wells Review of Peter Luger: 'Finally'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
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