Fire-haired food pimp Mario Batali's Midtown restaurant Esca was robbed last week! The crime raises two important questions: Was it an inside job? And if so, just how dumb are Batali's employees? (Very).

Two guys toting a shotgun knocked on the back door, then busted up in Esca at closing time and headed straight to what they wanted. Very suspicious! Perhaps they were trying to conceal their inside knowledge by then being incredibly stupid?

After pushing the worker aside, the pair went straight to the coat closet and snatched several envelopes...

But the crooks managed to botch the holdup and walk away with only the receipts, sources said.

They had meticulously planned out their entrance, masks, weaponry, target, and escape route. Everything except, you know, what might be in the envelopes they were stealing.

If those envelopes had been full of calamari we would have suspected Mario himself. As it is—probably just the usual suspects. [NYP]