We have been fans of Volare ever since it opened. In fact, it is the only restaurant in my mobile phone address book. However, it might be time to delete that address book entry; our celebration dinner last night was a source of disappointment and frustration.
Volare prides itself as an Italian-style fine-dining location, featuring steaks and roasted meats. As such, we have enjoyed their steaks, lamb chops, and pork chops on previous visits. Their appetizers, especially the sausage & peppers, are particularly good. The service levels in the dining room can be average (at best), but we have been able to overlook that if the food was exceptional. Last night must have been their perfect storm --- everything was subpar.
Our experience in the dining room was diminished by their apparent addition of several tables to address the needs of a busy night. Though you could applaud their success in filling those tables, it made it nearly impossible for our waiter and busser to serve food, pour drinks, and clear plates. The waiter at the adjacent table was far too close for comfort, continually announcing (throughout our meal) that she was "right behind you." Our waiter had to reach across the diameter of the table to pour wine; this was not what we expect in a fine dining setting. We had to help by handing plates to other guests, burning our fingers in the process.
Within our party of seven people, two of the meals were awful, one was excellent, and the other meals were acceptable. One of our family members ordered a "rare" steak; it came to the table as a medium. We recognize that this can happen, especially on a busy Saturday night. However, the waiter decided to argue with us about what constitutes "rare" vs. "medium". He was incorrect from the standpoint of facts, and incorrect from the standpoint of customer service. The waiter ultimately agreed to replace the steak. The other problem was a special risotto entree featuring lobster (costing $48). The meal was overcooked to the point that it only resembled paste. After the negative conversation regarding the overcooked steak, we decided that it was not worth another argument, so we kept it.
The restaurant has an impressive wine list. However, they do not carry a sufficient inventory to satisfy a full dining room. They had only one bottle of our first choice, and only one bottle of our second choice. So, we agreed to accept our first choice, and then change wines mid-meal. At least that was our plan. We ordered the second bottle --- and we waited, and waited. After 30 minutes the waiter told us that he felt bad that he had forgotten us and promised to bring it right out. We told him that it was no longer necessary since we had finished our food.
The other staff within the restaurant has a mixed bag of skills. The bright, shining gem was our busser. He was attentive with water, bread, and clearing. He had a great attitude and agreed to get some parmesan cheese for us (since our waiter never offered it). Unfortunately the busser was scolded by another waiter, about 18 inches from me, for daring to cross some boundary between the busser - waiter area of responsibility. Because of the placement of our table, I was able to see directly into the kitchen. At one point I glanced into the kitchen and saw the salad chef eating (full cheeks and chewing) while making salads. Sorry, but that's a violation of County health regulations.
Finally, one of my pet peeves is the "nickel & dime" approach to restaurant revenues. My mother said "OK" when asked if she wanted mushrooms with her steak: $5.00. I said "OK" when asked about anchovies on my already-pricy salad: $2.00. One couple was only somewhat hungry, so they split an entree: $5.00 split charge. Plus, there's something about a $3.50 charge for regular black coffee that seems excessive.
We all agreed that the owner should spend a little time in the dining room monitoring guest service and satisfaction. Then, he would have the opportunity to address issues before they become problems. Perhaps this review will help him recognize that.