After living in Italy for over a year, I've had a really hard time finding true, authentic, delicious Italian food. Everything is so "americanized" in terms of pasta & pizza.
When I first of Cioppino's, I was really excited. This place has been rated the Top Italian in so many different polls/surveys that I just couldn't wait to try it. To top it off, everybody raved about the chef himself.
Until Italy, I had never had steak that was sliced for you. At first, I never liked this idea... I was used to having my steak arrive at my table as a big slab of meat on a plate. In Italy, "tagliata" is quite popular.... always cooked med rare and topped with fresh rucola/arugula and shaved parmesan. It slowly became an "acquired taste" to me and sure enough, when I came back to Vancouver, I rarely found it on the menu and if I did, it never came out the same.
This is exactly what I ordered at Cioppino's. All in all, I would rate this restaurant fairly HIGHLY as the dishes we had were tasty and our server was actually really experienced, professional and attentive. When my tagliata order arrived, it looked fantastic. But when I had my first bite, I was a bit disappointed as my meat was definitely over-cooked. I ordered it RARE/MED RARE.. and it came out a good medium well. This happens often when ordering steaks it seems. When our server came to check on us, I kindly pointed out that my order was over-cooked. Immediately, it was taken back to the kitchen. A few minutes later, a chef came storming out of the kitchen towards our table. It was Pino himself. He came up to me and started telling me that the steak WAS rare/med rare. He even had the plate in his hand. (by the way, we were sitting on the patio outside, in plain lighting). I told him that it was barely even pink in the centre and the meat had gone tough/chewy. He INSISTED that this steak was cooked PERFECTLY and that HE cooked it himself. I was blown away by this point. Why was he arguing??? Again, I politely refused to take my over-cooked steak back... and then he started to raise his voice a bit and told me that it was the LIGHTING outside that made the steak look more cooked!!! I couldn't believe it!! Finally, he stormed off with my plate. When the server came back with my newly cooked steak, it was perfect this time... it was COMPLETELY different than the first order and I could NOT believe that Mr. Chef put up such a huge fuss with me in front of everybody.
I liked the food... and the ambiance is fine. But due to that incident, it is a place that I will not return to. Being a top chef that he is, I'm sure he knew that the steak was not cooked properly but he insisted on making a deal about it and tried to make me wrong. WOW.