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“I really wanted to like this place.”
Review of Primo Ristorante Italiano - CLOSED

Primo Ristorante Italiano
Price range: $10 - $30
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Description: Primo Ristorante Italiano is influenced by the legendary days of the Rat Pack of the 1950s and 1960s. The atmosphere transports diners back to the days of glitz, glam, black ties, and martinis. The iconic decor, music, menu, and cocktails have been selected to create an updated version of a classic, intimate Palm Springs, California supper club. This is the kind of place where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. or Joey Bishop would be sure to have frequented while in Knoxville. Come join us on the 5th floor of the Sunsphere. Sit beside sloping windows that offer a panoramic view of the East Tennessee landscape, downtown Knoxville, Mount LeConte, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the Tennessee River running in the distance behind you. Come to Primo at the Sunsphere and live it up!
Oak Ridge, TN
Level 6 Contributor
119 reviews
54 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 115 helpful votes
“I really wanted to like this place.”
Reviewed January 6, 2013

We stumbled upon this new place after a visit to the observation level of the Sunsphere. One person in our party of four decided we should push the button for the Icon Ultra Lounge and check it out. We were immediately greeted by, as we later learned, the manager who encouraged us to look around at our leisure whether we decided to order anything or not. It's a small place so our inspection was over quickly and we decided we would take a seat and have dinner. They were not at all busy (it was early on a Friday night) so we anticipated prompt service.

The decor of the lounge is very modern as expected from its name and location. The cozy seating areas were not as comfortable as they looked and we found it difficult to eat using the ottoman as a table. The waitress warned us about this so it was our bad choice to sit there rather than to take one of the tables. We had two issues with the lights. First, the colorful window lights (that you see from a distance) reflect on the glass and block the view. Since we had arrived before dark, we were able to take in the view before this problem came up so it was not such a big deal. I just mention it because it was unexpected to have the view obstructed like that. Our other lighting issue was with the interior lights. They changed from low to high for no apparent reason and at one point were turned completely off. We think we noticed a couple getting engaged in a booth against the wall and perhaps the total darkness was at the young man's request for a romantic setting. Either way, we did not appreciate being in the dark unable to see our drinks or each other very well, even if it was for just a few minutes. As soon as we were seated, we asked to have our tea light lit. For some reason this request took a half an hour to fulfill.

We ordered drinks: Voga Pinot Grigio ($7), St. Urban Riesling ($8), margarita ($10), and a soft drink ($2.50). They were all fine. The food menu is very limited and not terribly exciting but we made our selections. Here's the shocker and the primary reason for the rating I have given--we waited 50 minutes for our food! We asked for updates from our waitress as the evening wore on. She was apologetic and explained that this wait was not unusual(!) The manager passed by our table several times without a word of apology so our waitress must have been correct. It would be one thing if the food had been fantastic but unfortunately... read on...

Our four orders were the spring rolls ($9), the chateau tenderloin ($14), the fondue ($18), and the sliders ($14). I had the spring rolls--4 spring rolls with cold clumpy rice and some soy sauce. They were barely OK and I would not recommend them. The fondue came with pickles, crab cake pieces, bread, apple and ham. The person who ordered that did not eat much of it and said she would not recommend it. The four to five 2 x 2 inch pieces of the chateau tenderloin were well-done and the person who ordered it would have preferred medium rare, but she was not asked. This dish came with three scallops not stuffed with apricot and prosciutto as the online menu states and a grit cake. After eating the first scallop and finding an unpleasant "hard part," the other scallops were not eaten. The sliders were the only dish getting a better than OK rating. The dish included three sliders--three rolls with a tiny bit of meat on each. The person who ordered this dish just put all of the meat on one roll and left the other two rolls uneaten. This dish also came with French fries--your basic restaurant fries but served in a fancy paper cone.

In summary, we spent $87.50 (incl tax) plus tip to wait 50 minutes for terrible food. Why would anyone recommend this experience or ever do it again themselves?

The Icon Ultra Lounge has a unique location with an entertaining view (especially if you know the UT side of the Sunsphere--downtown cannot be seen as that side houses the kitchen). I guess they think this is all they need to succeed. Unfortunately, repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendations are what is needed to succeed and if 50 minute waits and terrible food are the offerings, they will not be getting either one.

I really, really wanted to like this place. It would be awesome to have an excellent place like this to take visiting friends and family. The best I can say is that it's a unique atmosphere for a drink but DO NOT order food here. In addition to the food, I have to give the service a bad rating but this applies to the slow kitchen and not to our waitress--it was not her fault. The value is the worst I have ever experienced in any restaurant anywhere.

I will mention that the lounge has a DJ and, from what I could tell, a tiny dance floor in the area where you step off the elevator. Perhaps it could be a fun place to go late for drinks on a weekend night but I doubt I'll go back and find out.

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
6 Thank Lab804
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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