Scenes from a wannabe Italian restaurant


Terry and I ordered some dinner the other night. Take out. Italian. And I cannot stress highly enough, do not go to the restaurant we visited. Avoid it. Stay away.

Of course, since I’m about to make fun of them and pick apart just about everything they did, I’m not going to name them. Which in turn means you won’t be able to actually knowingly avoid them. But I’m actually not looking to get you to stop visiting this one place. If you like poorly cooked, flavorless food, then a tip of the hat in your direction and more power to you.


Here I just want to have a bit of fun, and the restaurant we ordered from served up some tremendous reasons to be disappointed. And I think the reasons make an interesting essay on their own. Because honestly, when it comes to making Italian food…

First – Have an idea. And by this, I mean have some sort of thought process that goes into your selection of spices and major ingredients like the meats and vegetables you are going to feature. You shouldn’t call it your legendary meatball for no other reason than it’s a literally ball of meat since a ball of foam packing peanuts has more taste and better texture.

Second – I’m probably not the one to tell you how to make your house creamy Italian salad dressing. As a house specialty, I’d probably try to veer away from a classic or creamy as my specialty and try to meander into a balsamic-based something or other for my creation and attempt to be slightly different. But I’d have it on the menu. Turns out, with regard to our meal, you don’t have it at all. Either that, or, I’m out of line in saying that if it tastes like plain mayonnaise… if it looks like mayonnaise with flecks of parsley… then there’s a good chance you shouldn’t call it creamy Italian and should start over.

Third – The flavored butter that involves butter and diced black olives. Yeah, that one caught me by surprise. Not because the olive-infused butter itself was a bad idea. (I didn’t like it, but I do have some friends that actually might have enjoyed it. And, truth be told, of everything we received, this could very well have been your most creative and flavorful item of the night.) But, just a hunch on my end, chances are good your menu shouldn’t refer to it as garlic butter with olive oil and herbs when it’s actually butter with diced black olives and not even a wispy hint of garlic or other flavors.

Fourth – Do you know what a bisque is? Because I don’t think you do. Yes, the term itself can cover a tremendous range beyond the classical definitions. That’s fair. But we stand fairly confident in our opinion that yours was tomato soup… not bisque, soup… with no hints whatsoever of the crab and shrimp you named the dish after. Once again, the name and the description and the flavors seemed to be for three different dishes.

Fifth – Did you really serve… umm… actually…

…you likely see where this is headed. We didn’t enjoy our meal. At all.

Let’s step away from Italian food for a moment though. Because I want to pass along a concept that might allow us to unite in agreement rather than you searching for a way to say we all are allowed to have differences in taste and opinion.

Do you like bagels? Have you ever bought them? And when I ask this, I want you to consider heading into a specialty store serving fresh bagels. A place where you buy them one at a time or by the dozen. Not a plastic sleeve of bagels from the grocery store bread aisle.

If you, like us, do occasionally purchase bagels, there is something that drives you, like us, crazier than anything else. And that is, the packing of different bagel styles together into a single container where they spoil the flavors of each other.

Folks, plain bagels can be awesome. So are everything bagels, and onion and asiago cheese and garlic. As are blueberry bagels, and chocolate chip and cinnamon crunch. But you should never—and I repeat and stress NEVER—place a half-dozen onions bagels into the same bag as a half-dozen blueberry bagels, spin the bag and twist tie it closed, then hand it off to the customer. Just, never. Never mix and match and place in the same bag. It’s sloppy. It’s bad for the bagels. And it’s bad customer service.

On that, any of us that have ever gotten home to make a garlic and onion infused blueberry bagel can agree.

Now, bagels and Italian restaurant kitchens.

Where I really want to head with this rant of our dining experience is simple: You can put roasted garlic in olive oil, it doesn’t make it good.

Oh, it should make it good. Should make it great. But, like tossing an everything bagel and a chocolate chip bagel into the same bag, there needs to be a bit of thought given into what tastes you’re bringing together. Thought about what flavors you want to combine. Thought about the dish you serve. Otherwise, it’s just goop.

I appreciate all of you wonderful people making meals for a living. I do. Hard work. But please understand that if folks aren’t flocking to your restaurant, there might just be another reason beyond the inability of your customers to recognize quality food.

Thank you.

And to everyone else, please enjoy your meal.


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