After a long day of travel from the West Coast, I arrived in Utica, NY and asked the front desk person at my hotel, "Where is a good local place to eat?" She steered me to Delmonico's and even had a coupon for a free dessert. It was nearby, so I thought, "Why not?" Warning: This review starts bad, but do the restaurant the favor of reading to the end (or just skip there).
Delmonico's is a fun restaurant. The theme is rat pack/gangster Italian. The signs outside on the fire curb announce "Don't even think of parking here." The hostess was wearing a pin-striped vest and a fedora, and promptly seated me over by the bar. I looked at the menu, decided on my order, set the menu aside and began reading The Wall Street Journal while I waited for my server to appear. After completing the first feature-length article, I looked at my watch. After completing two more, I noticed that 12 minutes had gone by. No water, no bread, no server. I decided to give it three more minutes, read another article, then folded up my paper, stood up, and walked out. I stopped at the hostess stand to let her know that I was leaving and why. She asked if I wanted to speak with the manager, but by then, I wasn't interested. I did tell her, however, that I would be speaking to the folks at my hotel.
I was so steamed that I sat in my car trying to log in to my Trip Advisor account to leave my report, but my connection was bad and my phone died. So I decided to head back to my hotel to locate another restaurant and then review both when I returned for the evening. That is when things started to go right.
When I walked into the foyer of the hotel, I approached the desk and began to tell the woman behind the counter about my experience at Delmonico's. She politely interrupted and said, "That was you? I just want to let you know that the manager called, said he was very disappointed in his staff, and wants to cook you whatever you'd like and bring it here to the hotel for you." The first thing you need to know is that I did not tell the hostess the name of my hotel. I can only conclude that the manager called every nearby hotel to let them know that if they heard of a complaint, to make that offer.
Not wanting to eat in my room, I decided that I would trek back over to Delmonico's. I was met by the manager, the hostess, and a waiter. The manager apologized and thanked me for giving them another chance. The waiter took me to a table, took my order, and away he went. My drink, bread, and some wonderful garlic butter hit the table immediately. The salad was fresh and just the right size for a side. My waiter was prompt but not hovering.
I defied tradition (Delmonico's is known locally for its steaks) and ordered their one-pound lasagna. It is a meat-lover's delight, just the right balance of sauce and pasta as well. It defeated me after I was about half way through it. To round out the night, I had a piece of their pumpkin cheesecake (offered in season only) and it was delicious. I asked for the check and was told by the waiter that the entire meal was comped.
While my evening began poorly at Delmonico's, it ended quite well. Even had the management not comped the meal, I would have been very glad that I chose to come back. The next time I return to Utica -- probably next fall -- I will be sure to revisit Delmonico's. All restaurants will have service hiccups. It is the way that the management handles things that makes the difference. I felt like a highly valued customer. That, combined with the great meal, earns a five from me.
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