During our last night in the wonderful area of Sestri Levante we went for a walk along the waterfront promenade. We passed restaurant after restaurant and all were packed to the brim. Having had some lovely dinners in the area we decided to keep walking and try something new. We came across San Marco 1957 at the very end of the docks. Perched high on the end of the harbour with views across to the main drag, it has an enviably position above the fish trawlers and other marine vessels. (even if somewhat marred by the smell of diesel boat engines and decaying fish).
We were greeted and sat quite quickly by a lovely hostess who was incredibly friendly. Orders were taken and our starters arrived. They were Ok enough (not bad but unremarkable) and after much deliberation we decided on a main to share (pasta for 2 cooked in foil). Unfortunately the meal went downhill from here.
Parts of the pasta were not just cold but refrigerator cold and the pasta was steaming hot. This was discovered about 2 minutes into the our first bite. Unfortunately we were unable to locate any staff (they had seemingly disappeared and the hostess was now singing karaoke in the bar). After about 10 minutes we finally grabbed the hostesses attention and explained the situation. The owner then arrived and rather than just politely ask if we prefer something else, it became a charade of accusations that we were indeed incorrect and that everything was cooked to order so must be our mistake that it is ice cold.
Not ones to argue, my husband and I just asked for it to be hot when served. So round two comes and it is now cooked however most of the clams and quite a few of the mussels were unopened so we avoided most of the plate. No one took our side dishes when the original mains were sent back so now they were cold and no one asked if we needed anything else. By this point, the restaurant is empty and we didn’t feel very welcome as no one seemed to want to wait on us.
We finally flagged down the waiter and ordered another bottle of wine so we could enjoy the unexpected karaoke.
So, the food wasn’t to our standard, it happens.
After having had absolutely amazing meals all week in Monte Carlo, San Remo, Asti, Portofino and Paraggi, (and even in other establishments in Sestri Levante – see my reviews) you realise you can’t win them all. The biggest disappointment in this meal was the arrogance of the owner and lack of professional service. I’ve never eaten at a restaurant in my whole life where when you politely send something back and feel like a villain. At one time we were told to come to the kitchen to see how they were cooking just to prove to us what we said was wrong. I believe that is a managers role, to ensure the food is prepared properly, not the customers.
When leaving, there was no apology, no regards.. but to be honest we didn’t expect it. We did manage to give our own regards to the karaoke singing hostess. She alone deserves the one star given on this rating. She did try her limited best to be helpful.
We should have seen the signs on the approach – all the other restaurants (even El Ristorante which is close to San Marco 1957 – so off the beaten path) were completely full and SM 1957 only had a handful of customers. We convinced ourselves that it was probably because they were more unique; which, they were, just not in a positive way. Looking on Tripadvisor it is slightly ironic that most of the positive reviews are from users with only 1 (or very few) reviews, so even Tripadvisor let us down with their ranking in this case (I usually love Tripadvisor for travel guidance)!
However not to be too concerned with the whole thing, in the end we got what we wanted, an unforgettable last meal on our holiday! :)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
November 4, 2013
Report response as inappropriate
Thank you for your review.
I remember you and your wife as well: a very nice British couple, who I did personally accomodate in the outdoor terrace (first or second table on the right). I spent some time talking to you and you were very surprised to find someone in Sestri Levante speaking such a good English which, I explained , was due to my last 20 years spent in the USA. I remember you were very interested in our wine list.
The booking was done through your hotel in Sestri Levante. I don’t remember that night the restaurant being totally empty as you state, but definetly not overbooked as it is during high season: if you give me tha date I can tell you how many people did have dinner that night, both inside and outside. We keep records. I had already started singing (approx 10 PM) when I was asked by the owner to go to a table for some complains from a table, because he could not under stand what happened as he does not speak English (even though he tried his way to comunicate at his best with you).
You were complaining about the fact that the mussels were cold while the pasta was hot. You could not under stand how this could happen. That made you think that the pasta was reheated and pre-cooked and that was the reason why the owner was altered : you were stating something that was not true.
He was trying to explain that each dish which goes out of the kitchen is done at the moment, but you kept saying in a nice tone, but one of sufficiency: “It is ok…don’t worry..don’t worry..it is ok…”.
You even asked me to explain how we made the sauce in order to under stand why the shells were cold.
I explained to you the entire process. I also informed you that we were sorry about what could have happened and that we were going to cook the same dish again. I actually invited you and your wife to come and assist the process but you refused.
The Spaghetti al Cartoccio came out the second time and as we always do (and we even did it the first time in front of you) the aluminium foil (which enveloppes the Spaghetti and the shellfish, the prawns and the shrimps ) was opend in front of the you: this is the only way we serve it. Steamed and hot. You state in your review that you had side dishes with your Spaghetti and that we did not take them away. In our restaurant we only take away dishes when the clients are finished and always leave them if ask to.
For your information, for the mussels to stay warm they have to be served in a Sauce (Mussels’ Marinara): the sauce will preserve the heat. If instead you have mussels with pasta it is quite normal for the mussels to experience their temperature to drop and get cold very quickly.There is no other way you can eat a full bowl of mussels and have them 100% hot all the times, unless in a sauce or in a soup.
The waiters of the restaurant keep going back and forth (inside and outside) all the times. It may happen that they were inside serving other clients but definetly it is impossibile for them not to be around for more than few minutes (the 10 minutes you state is a lot for them not to show up) and you could NOT have grabbed my attention either , as I was singing inside while you were sitting outside.
By this time is almost 11-11:30 and the restauranti s closing, and therefore it is quite normal that it is empty. We have a closing time and by then, most of the people are gone.
As you can see, we too remember our clients and this is because we dont have so many complaining.
As far as it concerns Tripadvisor, I totally agree with you. They should carefully check that the statements of the clients are totally true because a lot of people state things that are not true most probably because some of them have never come to have dinner here. To give the travellers a good service, Tripadvisor should ask each reviewer to attach a copy of their bill, to state their true name. This would allow us to go in our records and see what they have exactely eaten and therefore be able to respond properly. Many people have never heard of Tripadvisor, you can bet on it. We are asking each of them to write what was really their experience . They have to start from someone. I know there are companies out there that you can pay to have reviews done for restaurants and this is what you are trying to say.
In our restaurant we want people to be honest and tell their true experience. It may happen that something goes wrong, but when someone feels that is wrongly accused of something, it is quite normal to have some form of reaction, because after all, we feel someone who is not in the business very often is freely offending people who is working hard t ogive a good service. It happens many times. We had clients complaining because our fish risotto tasted too much fishy, (?!)or the veggie had a strong vegetable flavour… We are here to work and accept complains which help us to improve, but when some complains are for free, we may argue.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.