My sister is in town this weekend, so we planned to have our one nice dinner at Pizzaiolo. Having read all these rave reviews and often walked by the lines outside the restaurant, I was excited to finally give the place a go.
Based on reading previous posts, we got there at 5:30 sharp to try avoid the wait and get decent service. There were already about 6 tables seated, but there was no hostess at the door. We stood by the front door for about 5 minutes before a waitress even acknowledged us and told us someone would be right with us.
After we got seated, it took about another 5 mins before someone brought us menus, and even longer for bread and water. After we decided on the food, we waited and waited and waited. And then waited some more. My sister even put our menus on the side of the table to indicate we were ready, but no go. Finally, we had to flag someone down.
We ordered the fritto misto to start, avoided the pasta based on other board posts, got bollito misto as an entree, and also a summer squash pizza topped with pounded garlic and parsley.
The fritto misto came relatively quickly. It was a combination of fried stuffed squash blossoms and fried green beans topped with a scattering of halved sungold tomatoes tossed in a little vinaigrette. The cheese stuffing in the squash blossoms were superb, perfect hint of salt against the squash blossoms. However, overall, everything was a bit too greasy. Things squirted grease when I bit into it, that is NOT how fried food is suppose to be, folks. At least, not when they are fried right. My sister and I were divided on the vinaigrette, she thought it was a bit too much, but I was okay on it.
Next came my bollito misto, which is basically just boiled meat. When done right, it can be lovely, but this was just blah. Not horrible, not great. Although I did really like the little side of sauce that it came with. But not all that great for $22.
My sister's pizza took much longer to arrive. The infamous wood oven bottleneck again. Now, she ordered the squash pizza with pounded garlic and parsley. She wasn't really crazy about the idea of summer squash on her pizza but had wanted the pounded garlic and parsley. After a few bites, she realized that it had summer squash and red onions (which she hates and there was no mention of on the menu), but no garlic and parsley. I ate a piece and confirmed that she was right. We hailed down our waitress, another titanic effort, and asked her to check on the pizza.
She came back and reported that the chefs apparently forgot to drizzle the garlic and parsley oil on our pizza. But she brought us a little dish of the oil and my sister ate the rest of her pizza using the oil as a sauce.
Tastewise, the pizza was spot on for me. The dough was perfect, crisp, thin and chewy and I really liked the summer squash topping.
My overall impression:
They really had no excuse for the bad and slow service; since we arrived early, they weren't yet busy, and we were clear about our order.
Our waitress didn't give us attitude, but she was brisk, hard to locate and never checked in on us. Again, I could understand if they were really busy, but this was at 5:30-6:00.
If they messed up our order before they were busy, I would hate to see what happens if we there during the dinner rush.
Besides the pizza, the rest of what we had was a little lackluster. When your menu is small like theirs, everything should really shine.
I think Dopo, just seconds away on piedmont ave, has much better service. I am hoping that when they open up the new section of the restaurant, the service will remain the same. Foodwise, I think dopo and pizzaiolo are at about the same level. Dopo's pizzas are a bit smaller, and a little different but still very good.
Oliveto is pretty much in a different category IMHO.
p.s. The waitress did take 10% off of our bill because of the pizza misstep, which was really nice. But coming so late in the game, it only influenced my experience a little bit.
Overall bill came to about $60 with tax and tip (no wine/beer).
I absolutely adore Pizzaiolo, and have had really good service there, but my one big issue with it is the waits at the door. Not waiting for a table, that's fine, but waiting for someone to even come over and acknowledge people waiting and get names on the list. I wish that they had a better system for that.
I totally feel for your sister. I got burned on the red onion thing last year on my birthday. HATE onions on pizza, but they are pretty much standard there. If you remember to order 'no onions' they will oblige. Of course I would prefer advance warning instead of having to remember to ask no onion all the time.