If you are not hungry, at all, go to this restaurant.
Ways to judge a restaurant: food, atmosphere, service, price, appearance of the place. This one does ok on one single one of those criteria, so ultimately, it’s not worth it.
We arrived at just after 7.30pm, having booked earlier in the day. First impressions were good, very comfortable armchair-type seats, nice soft lighting. Then you look a bit more carefully at the paintings on the wall, and some of them are just terrible – that doesn’t really matter normally, but in two and a half hours of waiting to order, waiting to eat, then waiting to order, waiting to eat, waiting for the bill, waiting for coats, the very bad painting of a photo of Sophia Loren takes on a nightmare quality, and you wonder whether the waiters, bustling around with their trolleys with whole fish and raw steak and their sample starters to present in lieu of menus, beating eggs over a flame to make Zabaione at another table… are not waiters, they’re the wardens of Tantalus.
So, we sat down, were asked if we wanted a drink, without seeing any kind of drinks menu, so we ordered water. After around 20 minutes, the Italian owner/waiter came to show us what all of the starters looked like, sample plates of food with clingfilm over them, and then got his pad out for us to choose. Nowhere did he mention how much any of these cost, so although we had glanced at the menu on the street outside, to be on the safe side we ordered two for the four of us to share. Not such a long wait for them to arrive, maybe 10-15 minutes. Irritation with the lack of drinks list, but we ordered some house wine, having managed to force an admission of the price. The starters were very good, shiitake mushrooms with seaweed, radicchio with shaved truffle. So far, ok. Then we waited, and watched, and waited, and after 20 minutes the waiter came back with the samples of pasta, we already knew what we wanted anyway. Then we waited another 30 minutes for it to arrive; that was what pretty much ruined the outing, it’s impossible not to get irritated even if it just a family dinner on a Thursday night. My carbonara was the saltiest thing I have eaten for years, although the sauce was made correctly (no cream!), and a very large portion. Dad’s and sister’s strozzapreti with sausage and cream were actually amazing, delicately flavoured, perfectly cooked. If that had arrived about 30 minutes earlier, minus the wait, and minus the slight worry about what the real cost of anything was, then maybe I would even have been persuaded to have some meat/fish, or even just a dessert and coffee. But by the time we had eaten our food, rather fast because it was 9.20 by this time, no one could face the idea of getting his attention, having the demonstration of every dessert, ordering, waiting, looking at the twisted face of Sophia Loren while she holds her breasts, because she’s so hungry, of course…
… So we asked for the bill, which at least came within a normal time, and was perfectly correct and not exorbitant. It seemed such a shame, we would have ordered more, it would have been nice to relax in the knowledge that we were going to get some food. I would have liked a little salad, I would have liked a dessert, a coffee, and above all I would have liked a single word of an apology for leaving a restaurant having eaten two courses in two and a half hours. My father lives very near this restaurant, and I have wanted to try it for years. Well, now I know.
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