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Porchetta: Very disappointing

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Started off lovely. Room is very pleasant, staff pleasant and warm, everything sounds good on the menu. Then the apps come: "Brooklyn" mozarella from Hicks (same guy who supplies Stinky?), just not very flavorful and overwhelmed by radishes. Chicken liver mousse with fig marmalade--a little better, but nothing I haven't had in a million other restaurants. Special ravioli, with oxtail and bone marrow: hands down the best thing we had, really flavorful and earthy (although still slightly too oily). And then the entrees came: short ribs, cooked into a brick shape, slightly tough and sitting in a pool of aesthetically yucky mustard greens with gorgonzola. It tasted OK, but was kind of gross to look at. Turkey with beans: awful. Turkey breast was incredibly dry and beans tasted out of a can. Tilefish with mushroom and teriso (?)...I don't know what that third ingredient was, but it was so bitter the dish was inedible. Figs were supposed to counter it with some sweetness, but there weren't enough. We couldn't get down more than a few bites. Finished with panacotta, but it was really too tangy. Wines were overpriced, an not particularly well chosen. I'd normally say it might be an off night but some dishes were just so off that I can't believe that. Compared to excellent meals we've had at Lunetta and Chestnut recently...was pretty bad. Won't go back.

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  1. I wasn't sure that I'd post about our meal on Friday night until I decided whether to give it another chance. Seven of us went and had chosen the pre-fixe in advance (4 courses, $45pp). I had higher hopes for this place but either they're in transition w/Neroni and will iron out the kinks in the front and in the kitchen, or they're not going to last 6 months. The owners were around the entire time but never seemed to notice the pacing problems. There were waits between courses that were way over the top and unexplained. The entrees weren't very good, with both the short ribs and the pork belly disappointing to those that ordered them (I had the short ribs and was not impressed... Downtown Atlantic does it much better, as do many other places). And the desserts, except for the Laboratorio Gelato tasted "off" (both the fig dessert and the choc. cake had a strange burnt taste... microwaved?; the panacotta didnt cut it either). The waitstaff either didn't notice all the leftover desserts or just ducked and tried to seem oblivious to that as well. Way over the price point for what it is, I think it's trying to impress by putting a name in the kitchen and then charge for what people expect to receive.

    On the other hand, there's potential. If Ginny and I went in alone and ordered the beets and the sunchoke soup to start (both of which were excellent), then any of the 3 pastas sampled at the table (spag., orecchiette & ouvo raviolo; each very well done & liked by all), then the tile fish (Ginny's was, unlike yours, very good) and no dessert (which is totally conceivable given our eating habits), this may have been a glowing review. As it is, it isn't. Ginny, who's the easier going one, won't go back. "Not a professional operation... not worth the effort". Oh well.

    And, yep, it was packed. But the crowds will move on and, I suspect, so will the chef.

    1. Yup. We also had a really lengthy wait between dishes, and had our entrees totally mixed up when they came. Was actually kind of comical...she was going on about the tilefish, when it was so clearly the turkey, and vice versa. And then the plates were really hard to switch because they were so hot! They didn't seem to pick up on any of it. The crazy thing is, I actually had a better meal there right when it opened with the original chef.

      1. The bitter aspect of the tilefish entree is treviso, which is a kind of radicchio. I personally liked it, but my wife thought it was too bitter, too.

        Not much time to write a long review, but - pacing aside - I had a very enjoyable meal. The brussel sprouts with pancetta, ricotta, parmesan, and a poached egg, were fantastic.

        The orrecchiette and gnocchi (which was served with a "Sardinian" stew that tasted an awful like a "con sarde" sauce, but was amazing) were both really tasty.

        And I liked the pork belly - it was nicely seared, and the cauliflower puree it came on was a nice counter-balance to the sweet raisins on top.

        I really enjoyed this meal - with a carafe of the house Montepulciano ($10 for 1/2 litre) it came to $98 with tax and tip.

        Of note: For a packed house on a Sunday night there was only two waitresses. The owners need to do something about that or the place will crash and burn.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lambretta76

          We had dinner at Porchetta last Tuesday and also enjoyed our food. However, we found the desserts somewhat lackluster. Also, their special cocktail the "Pork" Margarita with crushed cracklins on the rim was good but not great. I wouldn't bother with it next time. They had a nice Tocai that I really enjoyed so I'd probably stick with that or sample another wine.

          We started with the flatbread w/speck, pairs and balsamic and the Brooklyn Mozzarella. We both really enjoyed the flatbread. The ingredients were heaped on and the flavors worked well together. It was more filling than I expected it to be when I placed my order. The mozzarella was good but it was somewhat boring. I honestly don't remember what came with it. This was sort of a default order anyway as my BF had wanted the Sunchoke soup but they were out of it.

          I also had the Ouvo Raviolo. I really enjoyed this dish. It wasn't a sealed pouch like a ravioli but instead one large round of pasta with mushrooms, brown butter and a poached egg loosely covered by another round of pasta and parmesan shavings. Once I cut into it the yoke oozed out and mixed with the mushrooms making it a delicious combination.

          My BF had the pork belly which we both thought was wonderful. I know someone had previously mentioned that it didn't come with a side and they were right. I also felt it should have come with some type of greens since the pork was so rich.

          For dessert we split the figs and ricotta with honey and the warm Nutella cake with espresso and hazelnuts. Neither of us were very impressed with these. They were both okay but nothing special and I'm not sure I would have dessert there again.

          I know this has been mentioned but I wanted to concur that service was very slow for a half full restaurant. It had nothing to do with the front of the house. It seemed to be the kitchen. Neither of our apps were hot yet they took almost half an hour to arrive. I felt like we spent a lot of time just waiting. The Nutella dessert takes 10-15 minutes and our server warned us prior and we were fine with that. They seemed to have a full staff in the kitchen so I'm not sure what the problem is.

          We would both go back but hopefully the wait time between courses will be shorter.

        2. I really enjoyed my meal there. Thinking back tho, the wait between courses was a little long, but not unbearable.

          I have high hopes for this place. I think it will only improve.

          They need side dishes though. Food isn't that filling.

          1. We were there Friday night as well--I think we came in at the same time as Steve's party of 7. Similar impressions---our order got completly mixed up; we had ordered an appetizer, and a primi pasta, and two entrees--the server missed putting in my entree entirely and brought my husband's entree out with the pasta (this was after the waiter had originally told us the pastas weren't entree-sized.) He apologized and brought my husband's entree back to the kitchen, but I suspect he brought out the same exact plate ten minutes later when he wisked away our pasta and brought us out the two entrees. We took it in stride, and also found it almost comical---because the waiter was so nice about it all. Then when we got the check, my entree wasn't on it!(but we were quite honest and pointed it out to them, for which they were most grateful.)

            As for the food--we enjoyed the chicken mousse presentation, and we loved the pasta (orchiette with gorgonzola and pancetta, it was really rich and yummy). That was the best part of the meal, though. I had the short ribs which I also felt were a bit tough, not falling apart like they should be--also the combination of flavors of the "mustard greens" fondue with gorgonzola and then some kind of caramelized olives on top, was just too weird. Just didn't work at all, and the green sauce didn't look too appetizing. I wasn't thrilled. Hubby had the pork belly which he liked, but it didn't hold a candle to 360's version.

            We also felt that the plates needed some greens or some sort of "real" vegetable or starch...or at least the opportunity to order these a la carte. We were full because everything was very rich, but really you needed something to cut that richness.

            For dessert we just had gelato. With wine the meal came to over $100 and for that money there's a lot of better choices, although we might give it another chance at some point--if only to have that orchiette again.

            1. I too was reluctant to write, as the experience as a whole was not terrible, but it certainly did not live up to my expectations. My husband and I decided to try Porchetta last night on a whim, but we left wishing that we hadn't.

              We also had slow service issues. We did not waste our time ordering, but the appetizers were very slow to come out. We had the special brussel sprouts with fresh riccotta and the Brooklyn mozzarella. The server never mentioned that the brussel sprouts had a poached egg on top. This would have made a huge difference to us, as my husband really does not like eggs. We were upset, because there were other things that we would have preferred if we had known this very important detail. The Brooklyn Mozzarella was fine, but ours was very tart and all we could taste was the mint.

              As for main courses, my husband had the orrechiette, which he enjoyed, although the serving size left him hungry afterwards. I had the spaghetti with razor clams which I almost could not finish. The clams were fine, but the spaghetti very dry and dressed with pepper flakes. I really felt that I was eating a bowl of plain spaghetti.

              Since we were both hungry we tried the dessert... the figs with ricotta and honey were really good-- nice and warm. The panacotta was so tart that we could not eat it. The server came over and asked how our desserts were, and we told her that we loved the figs, but not the panacotta. She was very quick to tell us that she would take it off of the bill, which ws a nice gesture.

              I agree with all of the above, for the money, there are many other places that we will go. Maybe we will give it another try after some time, and maybe when the menu changes, and if the service issues ar resolved.

              1. I wish they offered the pasta in both the primi portions, which are essentially appetizers, and a full portion. As it stands, I feel an app, primi, and secondi, or primi, secondi, and dessert are full meals at this place.

                We were informed about the egg on the brussel sprouts by our waitress - I thought it was definitely an integral part of a dish, kind of there to be swirled around to make a "carbonara" - we cleaned the dish with our bread (which is sadly the same as it was when this place was Banania - how 'bout something new!)

                1. FYI: Strong's review

                  http://thestrongbuzz.com/reviews/revi...

                  1. some positive recent reviews:
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34810...

                    1. Went to porchetta Saturday night, around 9:30 PM with few friends. The experience wasn't totally bad... but as Carroll Gardens resident and a long time partron of Banania/Porchetta felt almost cheated.

                      We were seated fast enough and the servers were pleasant.

                      My problem really has to do more with food. Ordered beet salad... it was overly acidic in a effort to make up for it's overall blandness. Then shared a primi or black truffle gnocchi. I actually counted # of gnocchis -- 10! Not even a hint of black truffle and a strange citrusy taste. The main course: Husband ordered pork porterhouse served with chantrelle mushrooms. Meat was wonderful but it felt so unbalanced with the accomponiments. Mushrooms were bland didn't stand up to the flavor of the pork. I had fish with the most watery and unappetizing polenta.

                      The wait for the courses was insane! 1.5 between primi and secondi! No appologies from the staff. Apparently they were reviewed by NYTimes. So their excuse was they're unprepared for the volume. But it seems that the disorganization has been a problem before then, judging by reviews.

                      All in all the experience was just disappointing. Bring banania back!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: brooklynsavory

                        There was a one and one-half hour wait between courses?!! That is nuts. I probably would have left. Seriously? 1 1/2 HOURS?! Did I read that right?

                      2. I ate there the day after they were reviewed. Oddly, the room was never more than half-full.

                        While service was just fine, my friend and I ordered 5 dishes between us and I have to say, I was disappointed in most, if not all, of them. My friends agreed.

                        Unless I start hearing all sorts of raves here, I will not be returning.

                        Peter

                        1. Yup, you read this right! After about 45 mins we started looking at our watch.

                          1. Well... I went this Saturday as well and was pretty pleased.
                            We started with the brussel sprouts, which came with a great sauce and a really nicely done pork belly. Not as good as applewood's cause it's more outside flavors besdies the meat, and less crispy. But still quite good. Then had a dish that was special for the night, a squid ink pasta with crab meat and olives and tomatos. Really interesting, intense flavors that all came together somehow. Then had the pork porterhouse- Agree that the beans didn't stand up to the pork but with pork like that what would! And also ordered the lamb entree which was flavorful and also quite good. Didn't ever wait long and liked the wine and the decent chocolate desert!

                            1. Take ear plugs. On this Saturday night, the food was competent, not great, with one dish (the tripe) over-sweet, and the sauce on the mackerel over-rich. The noise level at our table, which was right at the speakers, made conversation across the table impossible. Three requests to lower the volume were unavailing. Despite an after-dinner drink on the house, we fled before dessert. Unless I could be guaranteed a table away from the speakers, I'd not go back. Other places have equally good food and a pleasant atmosphere.

                              1. Did anyone go to the porkfest there this evening? I'm just really curious a) how the beer pairing were and b) what the hell did a key lime pie taste like with a ginger snap and pork rind crust?

                                1. I'm a 5-star chef myself, open to many flavour possibilities, but short ribs with mustard greens and gorganzola?

                                  One word, four letters: Y-U-C-K-!!!