The Poor Italian restaurant is the quintessential definition of self-deprecation. I'm not an expert, though my partner and I like to dine out, he's been a chef for 20+ years and I've been a HR professional for almost 10 years - so, we like to think of ourselves as a pretty good team when it comes to critiquing service & food. We rate on 4 things: 1st impression, food, service, and last impression.
1st IMPRESSION: 7pm - The parking lot has enough spaces, outside is clean and inviting. Valet parking for $5, but no valet. Obviously, the look and feel is that of fine dining (or an attempt at it) but casual enough. Two female hosts - My partner and I stand in front of them...eye contact...waiting..."Table for two." I say to them. "Do you have a reservation?" That was our greeting - a blank stare and "do you have a reservation?" I say, "No". "Well, I can seat you at the bar." "ALL these tables are reserved?" "Yes" she replies. There was 1 table for 2, 3 tables for 4, 1 table for 6 and 2 tables for 8 available from where I was standing and she was taking us to 2 of the 4 barstools available. We sit. I look at the rest of the restaurant, 2 more tables for 4 available. There were more tables than people.
FOOD entree: Our first 2 dishes, you'll have to forgive me, my partner does the ordering so I don't know the dish names - so I'll just describe what was brought to us.
1st dish: calamari in pasta sauce covered over sausage.
-the calamari; rubber, definitely not fresh.
-tomato sauce; out of a can with dried herbs for looks.
-sausage; supposed to be chorizo, bland and thick skinned.
NOTHING for the palate to be desired.
2nd dish: muscles in a tomato sautee.
-muscles: NOT fresh, overcooked, and cold.
-tomato sautee: or should I say, 'tomato sautee?'
SERVICE: we were sitting at the bar. Not really much to expect ordering from the bartender, I expect him to know drinks. Not food. Expectations were met. He was pleasant, responsive, let us know that our dinner was coming right up (20 minutes after the entree's were done). Asked how our entree's were.
FOOD main course: I ordered the special-sea bass and vegetables-literally, that is how it was described to me from the bartender. My partner ordered clam linguini? I know, not my first choice either.
My Sea bass with vegetables: WOW! what a variety of tastes. I had a good sized portion of sea bass with its own entourage of vegetables; spaghetti squash with brown sugar, asparagus, turnip, potato wedges, red boiled cabbage, and spinach. The sea bass was NOT fresh. I could barely even call it sea bass - its taste and texture resembled more like marlin, or shark - tuff, dry, previously frozen and still raw in the middle. NOT yummy. I gagged when the mixture of boiled red cabbage juice and over-sweetened spaghetti squash inadvertently mingled with my 'sea bass' prior to it entering my mouth. I'm not even going to get into how the veggies tasted... what more can I say but, 6 different vegetables??? of 6 extremely different tastes??? all mingled together with... FISH! "What the hell is this 'chef' thinking?"
My partner's dish is less dramatic. Linguini noodles, over cooked, sticking together. Sauce... hmmm some was there, I think. Clams, 4. Taste... bland-bland-bland. Bland.
TOTAL PRICE: $82.80
Last/lasting IMPRESSION: Sometimes, a restaurant can be a welcoming suprise, a "better than expected" experience, if you will. This was not the case. The reason for this review at 345am? The lasting impression? The appropriate word to use here for my discomfort would be - GAStronomy.
So, the overall rating of the aptly named 'poor italian'? They do not disappoint.