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Disappointing recommedation for Abalonetti's in Monterey

Several people recommended Abalonetti's on the wharf in Monterey for some reason. I was very skeptical, but enough people claimed it was good that I thought I would try it.
I ordered a simple Tuscan salad that I didn't think they could screw up, but the dressing was way too sweet and I couldn't finish it. My friends ordered two different styles of calamari, their specialty, which was oily, but otherwise cooked well, not too chewy, but it looked very unimpressive.
The worst part was the service...absolutely depressing.
I would not recommend this restaurant to anyone. Two local women even asked us if we were sure we wanted to eat there. I guess people have very different definitions of "chowhound".

Beware, Magnaghi

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  1. Thanks for the review of Abalonetti's. We were going to eat there or at it's "brothers" across the way on Sunday. Now, I think we may opt for Schooners in the Monterey Plaza Hotel. Do you have any thoughts about it?

    1. Do dinner at Passion Fish in Pacific Grove instead. All of the wharf food is horrid!

      1. Oops...this is for lunch. I should have mentioned that.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Gail

          If you are in the Wharf area, you can just walk a few short blocks and you are in downtown Monterey. Alvarado has a lot of interesting places. Also, in the Wharf parking lot under the Japanese restaurant is London Bridge pub which serves decent pub grub. Or walk to the next wharf to the east and try Sandbar and Grill; it has been a while since I've eaten there, but the view is great and it is a locals' place. Or go west to the Coast Guard pier and try Massaro and Santos. Great view and some good dishes. The clam chowder is excellent, sand dabs good, crusted halibut nice. Pasta can be OK there too.

          If you are in Cannery Row area, Sea Harvest at Hoffman and Foam is a good basic seafood house located in a fish market, no frills, fresh fish, straight ahead preparations.


          1. re: Gail

            For lunch go to either Taste Cafe or The Red House, bboth in Pacific Grove.

            1. re: jaweino

              For food, I agree with you. Those are two of the best options in the area for lunch.

              My recs were based on the assumption that the poster was looking for something in the Wharf/Row areas.


            2. re: Gail

              Gail, we had a wonderful lunch at the restaurant in the aquarium last fall. There are at least two sections to this operation. One is the "family" side with burgers, etc and lots of kids. We opted for the "white tablecloth" section and were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. Whenever possible, I order sand dabs and these were among the "Top Five" I have ever had. The bread was delicious, a nice wine selection and lovely table by the window provided a great view of the bay. It was a "Do Again" lunch. Good Luck.

              1. re: Sherri

                Thanks, Sherri. I'll tuck this info away in my "Carmel" file to NOT do in the summer and Not on a Sunday. There are many times we are there when it would sound perfect!

                1. re: Gail

                  Glad that it helped. The "informal" side of the restaurant is pretty basic with picnic-ish tables and LOTS of families.

                  I live in AZ and am plotting a way to get back there in September -- after the kidlets are all back in school -- for another meal. The chef came out to talk with us and he is very active in (I've forgotten the exact name of the organization) not serving endangered fish, those in serious peril because of overfishing. He was quietly pleased that we enjoyed our meal so much and told us that the aquarium rents the dining room for private functions, as well as renting the aquarium itself. He told us about a dinner party in front of one of the giant tanks that was a huge hit with all the guests.

                  Hope that you have a great experience.

            3. Thanks jaweino & Phoo D...
              We are from central CA so try to always find oceanfront restaurants, so nothing downtown would work. Maybe we should try the Coast Guard pier. We've never been there. Appreciate your suggestions.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Gail

                If you went to Massaro & Santos on the Coast Guard Pier, I hope you enjoyed. Right now I am back in Monterey and suggested to some locals that we catch a dinner there, and they said that in their opinion, M & S had gone downhill. Some things are still good, but they recently had a dinner there with several others and dishes ranged from good to poor. that's too bad.

                They also reminded me that M&S is guilty of the "specials" sin - the server spews out around a dozen specials every night that are special mostly because they cost more than menu items.

                In any case, from now on, I will only recommend M&S for the chowder and the view. I should know that susancinsf is usually right about these things.


                1. re: Phoo D

                  ahhh ed: thanks for the compliment! I will pass it along to hubby, who might disagree, but shouldn't! :-)

                  yes, the specials issue is acute at M & S.

                  Actually the chowder from the Breakwater Pier downstairs from M and S isn't bad, and the view just as good (better if you take the Chowder to go and sit along the seawall). Too bad the people there aren't very friendly....

                  Do report back on any finds from this Monterey trip: I plan to be down again next weekend...

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    It's partly my love of the style of chowder at M&S. I didn't grow up in Mty, so I don't know how traditional it is, but there is a complexity of flavor to the M&S chowder that reminds me of the chowder at the long departed Spadaro's an old-school, old Mty family Italian place. Most other Mty chowders are pretty generic - not bad, but not singular.


              2. Abolonetti's wouldn't be my first choice in the area, (that would be Passionfish!) but my recent dinner there was a whole lot better than my most recent dinner at Massaro and Santos (which is what I assume you mean by the Coast Guard Pier, since the only other place there is a deli with surly service). If one found Abolonetti's disappointing, I don't think they would be happier at M and S (M and S is more expensive, service isn't as friendly, food not as good, but all IMO). If you do try M and S, stick to the basics. (which is probably good advice at Abolonetti's as well).

                I did a post on my Abolonetti dinner, but couldn't find it in a quick search. BTW, the service on my visit was very good.

                I wouldn't bother with Schooner's, unless the view is all you care about. In all honesty, IMO, the best seafood restaurants in the area are *not* oceanfront. I suggest a walk on the beach in Asilomar to get your ocean fix, then dinner at Passionfish!

                1 Reply
                1. My choice for fish in Monterey is the Monterey Fish House. It's at 2114 Del Monte Ave., a little ways north of Downtown Monterey, just past the Naval Postgraduate School, on the border with Seaside. It's not walkable from Downtown, but the drive is truly just 3-5 minutes. The place is always packed, so make a reservation. They always have a variety of fresh fish and will make it as you please. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...

                  1. IMO, if you're looking for dinner with a view in Monterey, you should get takeout. Whole Foods in the shopping center on Munras is a good choice.

                    1. Sorry to resurrect this old discussion, but I have made it a point to ask all my local chowish friends what the best Wharf restaurant is. The unanimous concensus is Cafe Fina.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Phoo D

                        I don't remember this one; is it right on the tourist wharf? I think you should head over while you are in town and file a report! :-)

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          Oh puleez - I couldn't do that. I have taken a few for the team, but I would have to turn in my honorary local's badge. They would tear the epaulettes off my tattered uniform. No local eats at the Wharf. Even if the food were good, the Wharf is crawling with TOURISTS. Even if the food were good, it would cost a few dollars more than a comparable meal elsewhere. OK, I am a tourist now, but I strive hard to disguise the fact. Shameful secret and all that.

                          Seriously, it is on the tourist Wharf. It is low key; no chowder samples; no fancy signage; no cute name; no cuddly mascot; no chef on TV. Nobody said it was excellent or the best in town. Nobody said it was a great value. But all 5 locals of the chowish persuasion that I asked said that it had the best Wharf food. How they learned that fact, I was too sensitive or squeamish to ask. There are some things that people will not admit to.


                      2. You guys got me curious - I Googled Cafe Fina and took a look at the menu. Interesting to see that a Steamed Artichoke is $9.95 - if that isn't a tourist trap item, I don't know what is! I don't know when we'll be down that way any time soon, so I hope that some other 'Hound will give it a try and report back to us...

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: RWCFoodie

                          I agree. Prices are higher than for comparable items at other restaurants in the area. But some folks really want to eat at Fisherman's Wharf - for the convenience or the view. For that reason, I asked locals whose opinions I trust which of the places on Fisherman's Wharf prepared food the best and posted their consensus response. Nonetheless, if I had to eat by the Wharf, I would go to the Sandbar and Grill on the commercial wharf - just east of Fisherman's Wharf. Prices are much better and the unique water level view is intriguing.


                          1. re: Phoo D

                            I've never seen any posts on Sandbar and Grill: want to give us one? How would they be for breakfast or lunch compared to LouLou's next door?

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              When I moved to Monterey, I ate there a few times, but that was years ago. Two summers ago, a friend of mine was in the mood for a cocktail and a view, so we went there, but didn't dine. Service was friendly; cocktail adequate. I have read the menu recently, and it has the usual suspects: steamer clams, fried calamari, salmon, sand dabs etc. But prices were less than Wharf places, the restaurant was fairly full at 2PM, and the view (because the restaurant is at water level, not wharf level) is unique. Nobody in that area touches LouLou's for breakfasts. Wish I could add more, but this year, I had only 7 dinners out, so I try to focus.

                              1. re: Phoo D

                                The shrimp scampi were very good several years ago.