Sorrentino's - St. Albert (next to Edmonton)
I recently had my first meal at a Sorrentino's, and while it was not bad, I have to say I was disappointed. Maybe I expected too much?
Calamari was the starter, and it was way, way too salty. It was a little too chewy too.
As for main dishes, the Marco Polo pizza was fantastic. It was a little sweeter than I thought it would be, but the taste was quite nice and the amount of spice was perfect. The other dish ordered was the Capellini Favolosi. The shrimp was big and tasty, and I liked the sauce too. My problem with this dish was the pasta itself. To my surprise, the pasta was undercooked and was only edible when I let it soak in the sauce for a while. If I hadn't been so hungry, I would have sent the dish back. As it was, I ate the shrimp and only ate the cooked portions of the pasta.
Dessert was a fantastic chocolate cake and scoop of lemon ice cream.
All in all, it wasn't a bad dinner, but it could have been so much better. It certainly doesn't inspire me to go back. As I left the restaurant, an other thing occurred to me -- I'm not even completely sure the pasta was angel hair like the menu said it would be!
I've always been a little befuddled by all the hype surrounding Sorrentino's- I've never had anything resembling a memorable meal there. The high bill always sticks in my mind though.
That said, I've found the food is usually fairly edible and decent- it's just not great. I've mostly been there (the old Whyte Ave location, on 104 St., and the west end location on 170 St. and Callingwood Rd.) for office parties, especially in my younger days when I worked various odd jobs at minimum wage, in which case, the perceived quality of the place tends to go up. Just my 2 cents.
I've always been disappointed at Sorrentino's - really bad service, small portions, large prices, disappointing pasta and side dishes.
However, the exception is Sorrentino's location downtown which has impeccable service and solid food. Don't know why they can't keep that standard at their other locations.
I am a Sorrentino's "regular" so can emphathize with the observations of Lea and alau2.
No question the downtown location is "heads and shoulders" above the rest. The reason? That is where Sonny Sung runs the kitchen. As executive chef for the operation he is simply superb.
I have had less impressive meals at the other locations. I think staffing is the major issue. Sorrentino's like many other restaurants in Alberta is having a tough time getting and retaining experienced staff whether in the front of the house or in the kitchen. The downtown location perhaps less so than the others due to its proximity to the hotels and regular business clientele.
In fact I may just head out there for lunch in an hour or so if they have re-opened after the Christmas break.
So in an effort to be fair, I had another Sorrentino's dinner - this time at the downtown location. The contrasts between the two locations were interesting. St. Albert was very busy and the front of house staff was very good. Downtown -- the hostesses were great, but my waitress let me down towards the end of the meal as she would disappear for long lengths of time. On a Saturday night, I was surprised to see the restaurant so empty.
I had mixed results with the food. The menu is different from the other locations, and this time my dining partner and I tried the Bison Cannelloni and the Veal Scaloppine. Both were very good although I was a bit overwhelmed by the unexpectedly large portions of veal. I like protein, but would have been more than happy with half of the serving. For dessert we had a sour cherry soy creme caramel and a passion fruit and ginger creme brulee. The creme caramel had no sour cherry flavour at all and the caramel was very, very light tasting, which meant this dish was mostly flavourless. The creme brulee's passion fruit flavour was almost too strong and the dish was soupy except for the caramelized crust. The ginger taste was uneven as you had to bite a piece of grated ginger to get that flavour.
If I ever go back, it will only be to the downtown location. And I think I'll forgo dessert.