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Falai – The concept of sophistication for less $ unfortunately doesn’t work

SYCRoberts Apr 2, 2006 08:47 PM

Falai’s really tries to be sophisticated and to impress for less $.
The results are disappointing – most of the dishes are unexceptional and some are very disappointing.

Portions are too tiny which turns the place to a not- so-cheap “bread restaurant” – i.e. restaurant that you have to eat lots of bread to feel full (the bread is good but this is not a big deal anymore in NYC).

$200 for three – a total waist of money and another NYC disappointment – too many recently.

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  1. l
    Lici RE: SYCRoberts Apr 2, 2006 10:40 PM

    Try Falai Panetteria (sp?). I've been to Falai and while it was a good meal, I wasn't impressed overall. I went to falai paneterria and had a very lovely, casual evening. This was a while ago, but hopefully it's still just as wonderful. There was only one waiter, but it was BYOB and when we told him we wanted to take dessert to go, he put 2 extra pastries in the bag.

    1. d
      David Lerner RE: SYCRoberts Apr 3, 2006 08:28 AM

      We had an excellent meal at Falai a few weeks ago. The appetizers were perfect, the entrees were very good. We were quite pleased to have found a keeper among all the new Italian restaurants.

      I admit that portion size is not a big deal for me, I just want the food to taste great, and it did.

      1. n
        Nosher RE: SYCRoberts Apr 3, 2006 10:38 AM

        I don't know that I'd agree about the bargain mentality--Falai isn't cheap and doesn't, as far as I am aware, have designs on being so.

        But you're right that portions can be on the stingy side--we have found that to be the case with a few of the entrees, but not all of them.


        Link: http://nycnosh.com

        7 Replies
        1. re: Nosher
          mm RE: Nosher Apr 3, 2006 02:22 PM

          ate at falai saturday night.stuck in a corner and the wait staff kept sticking there underarms in my face to adjust the temp till we told them we would be happy to moniter it to there specs.the food is just plain silly .this is esssentialy peasant cuisine which is being treated like retro nouvelle.i don't need a bread menu and salt is needed everywhere.7 yes lets count them 7 tortelli for an entree is just plain insulting.no sauce but a weak stock in a tea cup for dipping just adds to the pretension.pasta was cold sitting naked on what appeared to be a soap plate .this is not haute cusine or an elegant setting.having cooked in italy any italian grandmother would slap there faces.cheap this is not and to add insult the small single scoop of sorbet for ten bucks on a flat plate with nothing else tells me that less is not necesarily more.

          1. re: mm
            CornflakeGirl RE: mm Apr 3, 2006 03:23 PM

            Welcome to Falai! Where every dish comes with complimentary flavorless foam!

            We tried the worst Gnudi ever at Falai. Stringy, flavorless spinach balls.

            I wouldn't bother going back nor would I recommend it to anyone.

            1. re: mm
              SYCRoberts RE: mm Apr 3, 2006 06:43 PM

              You have described the Falai fiasco better than me. I hesitated to be so harsh but I agree with every word that you wrote.

              1. re: SYCRoberts
                Lambretta76 RE: SYCRoberts Apr 11, 2006 12:47 PM

                I've never eaten at the main restaurant but I have nothing but great things to say about the pannetteria across the way - good prices, decent servings (they sell the Venetian tapas called cichetti), and great wait staff. Not to mention a well-pulled shot of espresso and fantastic cornettos.

                I guess I'll stay there and be content with what they serve.

                1. re: Lambretta76
                  maurocheeseandwine.blogspot RE: Lambretta76 Jun 15, 2007 08:02 PM

                  I can understand how some may have trepidation about the food at falai -- it is designed not according to "American" standards, such as order one entree and be ready to leave fat, full, and still stupid. I think before one goes to a restaurant and spends any amount of their earned money they should think about, possibly even research what they are about to experience (the internet is a wonderful source of information). If you don't like sushi, for example, I wouldn't suggest you go to a sushi restaurant just because it's popular -- you won't like it. If you are a size 32 waist but want to be a size 28, don't buy a size 30 just to psychologically manipulate yourself that you are losing weight because ultimately you will still feel uncomfortable -- what does this have to do with Falai? Every piece of art is subject to criticism once it hits the public, but every critic is not always a smart critic if they do not judge that piece of art against any historical, psychological, sociological, or even intentional background -- it's easy to complain -- believe me, I know all about it -- but sometimes it's nice to take a restaurant's purpose into consideration before judging it. Falai is not supposed to be typical, it's not supposed to be comfort food; the menu is also designed to be eaten in three courses, similar to Italian cuisine, even european cuisine (we wonder why europeans take forever at our restaurants). If you find the pasta dish to be small, it's because it is intented to be small, none of the courses are supposed to be eaten as a main course -- some people like tasting menus -- some don't. I, on the other hand love them, and think that Falai is one of the more "real" restaurants in NYC. Their plates are beautiful, their food amazing and made fresh daily, and their environment familiar and friendly, unlike many of our unfortunate corporate american neighbors -- where customer service is not only robotic and boring, but sometimes just plain stupid and uninterested. I'd rather eat in an establishment that cares about me than in a restaurant that just wants my money, even if there was more salt in the dish -- anyways, salt can always be added, not taken away.

                  1. re: maurocheeseandwine.blogspot
                    Bob Martinez RE: maurocheeseandwine.blogspot Jun 16, 2007 06:58 AM

                    Fascinating stuff. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

                    1. re: maurocheeseandwine.blogspot
                      Steve R RE: maurocheeseandwine.blogspot Jun 17, 2007 12:58 PM

                      Okay, I'm an overweight American. But I'm not ignorant about eating in ways different from "bigger is better". I enjoy eating 3 nicely sized courses. I've done it in Rome, Florence, Venice, Ravenna, Parma, Milan.... And spending hours talking and eating and not just looking for big food is enjoyable to me as well. I was only at Falai once for dinner, so I'm no expert on the chef's general ability. But I wasnt impressed with the food. However, the settings were very nice and so was the bread.

                      I'm also not impressed with anyone who assumes that we're of a different mind simply because we're ignorant. Go to Hearth... much better. As Bob Martinez says (tongue in cheek I believe, since he was with us when we dined at Falai) "Fascinating stuff. I look forward to reading more of your posts". Thanks for sharing.

            2. c
              CobblerNYC RE: SYCRoberts Jun 17, 2007 01:33 PM

              I've only been to Caffe Falai, and while I will say the service was definitely a little cold and off-putting, the food was great for the price. The flavor were all really distincts and the fresh pasta was perfectly cooked, and very flavorful.

              1. k
                kobetobiko RE: SYCRoberts Jun 18, 2007 07:19 PM

                I have been to Falai Panetteria and Cafe Falai, and IMO the food there, while not mind-blowing good, was quite decent. I didn't find the portion to be too tiny, and wasn't going with the mentality that it was supposed to be cheap. I hope it was just a one-off incident.

                2 Replies
                1. re: kobetobiko
                  catches RE: kobetobiko Jun 18, 2007 11:36 PM

                  This place is amazing! If you require more...order more. No such thing as a one-off incident. They do what they intend to do for those who intend to enjoy. Happy eating.

                  1. re: catches
                    Bob Martinez RE: catches Jun 19, 2007 07:25 AM

                    "If you require more...order more."

                    No one ever said Falai was cheap. If I pay a full New York price for my entree it makes me a little cranky when I have to buy supplementary courses to get a full meal.

                2. p
                  psp RE: SYCRoberts Jun 19, 2007 03:08 PM

                  must say, i really like this little place. while not every meal i've had here has knocked it out of the park (and i think i make better gnudi), this place is seriously good. the wine list, although small, has some very special things that aren't so easy to find in the states. the pasta is terrific, and sorry, various stuffed pastas served in broth is not only a traditional dish, but one that is exceptionally well executed at falai.

                  all this said, if you are a large american with a salt damaged palate in need of fruity international style wines, go to babbo ...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: psp
                    Bob Martinez RE: psp Jun 20, 2007 06:45 AM

                    "all this said, if you are a large american with a salt damaged palate in need of fruity international style wines, go to babbo ..."

                    There are plenty of people who dislike Falai who aren't fat American salt lovers. People's tastes and judgements vary.

                    1. re: psp
                      RCC RE: psp Jun 20, 2007 07:05 AM

                      "all this said, if you are a large american with a salt damaged palate in need of fruity international style wines, go to babbo ..."

                      Well, when we were at Babbo for dinner 2 weeks ago, I'm pretty sure that the bottles of, iirc, a '96 Aldo Conterno Granbussia and a '98 Barbaresco from Santo Stefano (I don't have my notes to check the producer, but this one was recommended by the sommelier)) were both NOT international style at all. They were made very much in the traditional style, as far as my average Italian wine knowledge is concerned.

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