Via Allegro - reality check!!!!
- Bon Vivant
I dined at via allegro on Wed May 25/04 for a third time. In anticipation of dining excellence especially in the wine department. It was a big let down: wine service and food preparation.
When a restaurant sets itself so high up it should be ready to deliver.
Simply put it takes more than great ingredients to make an outstanding meal. It's all about the execution.
The thing that leaves me nodding my head is the wine service....arrogance ++ leveraged on a little bit of knowledge by "quasi" sommeliers. (a 13 week course does not make a master sommelier) It would not hurt to be user friendly rather than intimidate or feign superiority. Yes, yes a great big cellar, wine spectator accolades...big wow! but delivering the experience to the guest should be the ultimate goal not be a tax shelter for another part of a family business.
The food is pretty but does does not rise above any Italian joint within 5 miles radius. At the price and hyperbole in the menu I should be leaving the restaurant savouring the experience. (Not the case) Any true foodie will agree. The flavours should honestly ooze out from the simplest of selections. In a very simple example, I left wanting for the real deal of a true to goodness european thin crust pizza. Amongst the audience out there I am sure you all could cite a number of places in TO without too much effort. I refer to other postings that talk about "platinum" beef. Undelivered hyperbole.
Enough said. You can buy all the awards you want but if you cannot deliver the promise you become exposed and true foodies will move on. Of course Via Allegro will continue on as a result of location and expense accounts. That's business!!! not a gastronomical experience
Just one foodies genuine opinion on an overrated lacklustre star of TO.
re: Frank B.
Ate there last week. We're not big wine drinkers, so we skipped that experience. The martinis were decent and my wife enjoyed her Belinis! I had a wonderfully prepared and presented salad, and the veal chop lived up to their "best in the city" description. My wife also enjoyed her seafood grill entree. Great venue for that special occasion!
I must say that I have only heard good things about Via Allegro - to temper what the others have responded, I will say that other Chowhounds would appreciate if you would perhaps explain your experience in further detail, so we can understand just why you had a bad experience. Your meal, and why it was not up to expectation, and also what exactly was wrong when it came to the wine - although I would presume that it was the "superior" attitude of your sommelier that dampened that part of your night. I must say that waiters and sommeliers who behave in this way are rife in this city, and don't understand that it is vital to treat customers in a respectful way - irrelevant of their knowledge. (I work in the industry and am constantly frustrated by this issue).
So please keep dining out and posting your reviews, and don't be discouraged by negative responses. We all have a different dining experience (unless we stick to McDonalds) and everyone's experience is as valid as the next person's so we shouldn't criticise them so much.
I've been at Via Allegro a few times.
The prices are above average. The service is marginally friendly, a bit arrogant for my taste; other restaurants in the same price range (such as Canoe, Auberge, Scaramouche) offer better service, in my humble opinion.
Careful selection of the dishes will ensure a pleasant dinner. They have a pasta with some sort of smoked or dried sausage that is divine; I know my description is far from appealing, but trust me, it is one of the best pasta dishes I've ever had in Toronto. Their steaks are good, no complaints in that department. They have an all mushroom salad that sounds great in the menu, but the taste is awfull; don't waste your money on it! I recall once I ordered some pasta with rabbit; awfull again, the sauce was too strong and salty, ugh... that was a really bad experience. Their desserts are ok; good ingredients, but I've had them better prepared at other restaurants. One example is the chocolate ganache cake, the sides (fresh and dried fruits, etc) go very well with the cake with its melted chocolate centre, but the cake itself was overbaked.
I would personally not go back there again. There are nicer restaurants in Toronto to enjoy a pleasant meal.
I agree with your review. We were there a year ago and whilst I don't remember all the details, I just have the impression now that the service was just okay, the food was okay and the prices were high. As you say, there's a lot of other restaurants where you can get more for your buck.