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“Wannabe fancy restaurant with over priced food and terrible service.”
Review of Galleria de Paco

Galleria de Paco
Ranked #1 of 134 Restaurants in Waterloo
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $20 - $25
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
41 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Wannabe fancy restaurant with over priced food and terrible service.”
Reviewed July 18, 2013

The owner may have made a diamond out of a rough building, but the only thing memorable about this dining experience was the awful service and the indignant owner. It was hands down the worst service I've had in what claims to be a nice restaurant. And the food wasn't that great either.

I was in town for a meeting and staying near the restaurant. It was my first time in Waterloo, so I checked TripAdvisor before arriving for dining recommendations. Despite the cheaper options around the corner, I decided to splurge on dinner for myself. The owner seemed very nice and the atmospher was unique. The service started off bad when my salad arrived before the complimentary bread. It was made worse by waiting for 15 minutes into the meal for my drink to arrive. When I asked, the waitress apologized and said it would be right out. She further explained that she didn't have time to go downstairs because it was so busy. I think there was at max 10 occupied tables in the restaurant with 35. I saw her waiting on two other tables tops. The waiter had the lions share of the tables and was clearly able to manage his workload.

The food was fine, but nothing to write home about. Delicious asparagus. The salmon was overcooked in the center. The potatoes that another reviewer writes about were mashed potatoes shaped like spaghetti with paprika on top. Whoopie! The kicker came when I ordered the flaming molton lava cake. They lit it on fire which was cool, but the center wasn't molton when I put my spoon in it. The unbearable part was when I leaned over to take my first bite and could smell the 151 that still created a ring on the outside of the plate. The smell was so nauseating that it made me sick to my stomach. I informed the waitress and she said, "yeah, that alcohol does smell bad." I said the chef used too much alcohol, that it hadn't all burned off, because you could still see it on the plate and smell it! She said she would let him know.

She came back half way through my nauseating cake to collect her money. I hadn't even moved the check. For a European, you would think the owner would tell his staff not to hound the guests. A few minutes later, I asked the waiter to take the rest of the cake. I had another sip of my drink and since I felt like I was going to be sick, I got up and asked the waiter where to find the restroom. When I returned from the restroom, they had dumped my half full martini! I still hadn't even moved the check. Before I even got back to the table, I saw the drink was gone, so I asked her, "Where's my drink?" She was like, "I thought you left so I dumped it out. Sorry." Seriously, you thought I dodged a $35 bill? At this point, I wish I had!

I said to the waiter, "How did you think I left, I asked you where to find the restroom?" He was like, "That was my fault. I saw you walk towards the front." No kidding it's your fault you moron. He apologized and was smart enough to volunteer to make another drink, but by this point I wasn't interested. I said forget it and gave them my credit card.

On the way out, the owner asked if I enjoyed the meal. I said, "Actually, there was so much alcohol on the chocolate cake that it make me sick to my stomach." He said the alcohol burned off. I said not all of it burned off, you could still see it on the plate and the smell was just too much when I leaned over to take a bite. He then inquried, "Why didn't you exchange it?" I explained that I told the waitress. Apparently I should have been more direct, because he said, "But you didn't ask to exchange it, did you?"

Really? A customer that complains that the foods is making them nauseous should specifically ask to exchange it? I also explained that when I went to the restroom, after I asked the staff where to find it, that they dumped my drink. He proceeded to tell me that I "must have a sensitive stomach" and sometimes their cake is "too rich for people."

They didn't comp my cake or my drink which totalled nearly half of the bill. Unfortunately for the waitress, she paid for it with her tip. I have never not given a tip to a waitress, even if the service is poor and the food is bad I tip at least 15%. Fortunaely for me, her indifference made me feel quite indifferent over the entire situation. Maybe she can treat herself to my replacement martini.

Maybe their cake is just crap and their service worse? I say tomato, you say tomatoe.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
8 Thank kballtraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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160 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Waterloo, Iowa
Level Contributor
83 reviews
28 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“A diamond in the rough”
Reviewed June 3, 2013

Here is the lowdown from a person who has lived in the Waterloo area all his life. This place is an absolute must for anyone who wants to have a memorable dining experience. Paco's has more class than one should expect from a restaurant in Waterloo. If you want to impress your girlfriend/wife, out of town friends and family this IS the place to visit. This restaurant is much more than Paco Rosic's vision of the Sistine Chapel, it is his way of bringing Europe to the middle of America. I wonder how many Waterloo natives have been to Europe ( maybe 10% ) and how many have been to the Sistine Chapel ( maybe 1% ) this will be the closest many of us will ever get. One tip, Paco's is better lit than the real thing and you won't have to strain your neck as you dodge hundreds of tourists in the actual chapel.
But once you get used to the ceilings and walls it is all about the food. This is the best food in Waterloo, though the CU will impress you as well. I recommend the 4 course, one price deal. For $27.99 and a martini ( $7 ) you will have an amazing evening. Do have a martini as they are all good and the bartender may be one of a few bartenders in eastern Iowa who actually knows how to make a "dirty" martini.
For your four course meal I would start with the Salmon-Lobster Ravioloni, the Creamy Brie or the Shrimp Puffs. The best salad is the Apple and Bleu Cheese Salad with walnut and berries. The best entrees are the Grilled Tiger Shrimp with the best pasta and sauce in town. The Ribeye is amazing ( add $5 ) and the garlic potatoes underneath are very, very good. The Salmon is excellent, also. For desert you can't go wrong with any of the 5 choices but I usually stay away from the Black Forest cake as I get chocolate cake other places. The Baklava, Crème Brulee and Apple Strudel are all hard to beat.
In my party of 5 I had guests from the Nashville area and San Francisco Bay area and they both could not believe they were in Waterloo, Iowa ( well, I couldn't either ). One guest said this restaurant could do well in any city in the country.
As others have said, check out the downstairs bar. The Catacombs is quite the unusual place. So make a night of it (please don't expect a quick meal here), strike up a conversation with the Maitre 'd who happens to be Paco's father and get lost in the wonder of Europe in Iowa.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
6 Thank dennis k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colo
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Magnificent”
Reviewed May 22, 2013

The restaurant is just beautiful and the dessert is to die for!! The lower level lounge is a unique touch as well! Loved it!!

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank miki_smithy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level Contributor
48 reviews
30 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Still Great After All These Years”
Reviewed April 23, 2013

We (my wife and I) were back to Paco's for the first time in a year. (Only because we no longer have a reason to travel to Waterloo.) It was still a pleasure to dine there. All the food is prepared differently than anywhere else. So, "potatoes" aren't just "potatoes" they are "POTATOES" -- prepared with extra ingredients that make them unforgettable. I recommend particularly the rack of lamb or the poached salmon. No trick is missed from the atmosphere to the service. (Need an extra fork -- it's delivered on a napkin for you to be the first hand that's touched it since the dishwasher.) The owner in the maitre 'd and he's always busy making sure that everything is perfect. It's worth at trip to Waterloo just to eat here.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
4 Thank cross1242
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rogers, Arkansas
Level Contributor
70 reviews
36 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“A Waterloo Must!”
Reviewed April 11, 2013 via mobile

Found this place this trip by reference of a local friend that I was meeting for dinner. A truly surprising find in downtown Waterloo. Awesome drink menu and you can not beat the beautiful art!!!! Make sure to visit the bar downstairs too after you place your order. They have drink specials and will let you run down for a drink while your meal is being prepared. Staff was awesome and you really can't beat a chef made, 4 course meal for about $30.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank southernfoodiegirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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