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Nice meal at Rialto, with caveats

Sgt Snackers Feb 25, 2007 05:53 AM

We were excited to check out the reincarnation of Rialto (which reopened earlier this month) and managed to get a reservation last night. They have redone the space and although it is a bit brighter and more airy, it's not overly so and still has a nice romantic feel. We arrived about 20 min. early and had a couple of drinks at the bar - great bartending!

Short story: Food was excellent, service and kitchen turnaround times really need some improvement.

Despite being there early we were left waiting for 20 min past our reservation before being seated. For some reason it appeared that the hostess did not know which party was which and rather than come up and ask us our names, she kind of glanced around and ignored us until the bartender suggested that WE might be the ones waiting for the table. I found this to be quite odd and not very welcoming. Nor did she apologize for the long wait and ignoring us for 5 minutes while figuring out who to seat. To add insult to injury, once seated we waited a full 10 minutes before water or menus appeared. (It didn't help that it was a good 10 degrees cooler in the room than it needed to be - talk about a cold reception!)

Our waiter was very nice and knowledgeable but must have been pretty busy as he would disappear for very long stretches. After ordering the apps took nearly 35 minutes to arrive, and the mains took another 30 min. or so AFTER we were done with the apps. During these long waits the two parties seated next to us were also waiting for their food to arrive - my guess is that the kitchen was running way behind. (I guess Jody should have spent more time moving things along in the kitchen rather than hobnobbing with the guests in the dining room.) After finishing the mains we sat there with dirty plates for more than 10 min. until they were cleared. The whole operation seemed to move VERY slowly and we were surprised at this from a restaurant of this caliber.

The food, though, made up for all of these service problems. We started with the prosciutto and pears and the sliced stuffed veal roll. Not incredibly large portions but that was perfectly fine; glad we had two apps rather than one. For mains we went with the braised short rib with marrow, which was absolutely succulent, rich, falling off the bone - perfect. DC had the stuffed quails with polenta, currants, and pinenuts which were a bit more difficult to manipulate (small bones and all) and came with a delightful red pepper sauce. Really fantastic. We decided to forego dessert, not wanting to be left hanging for another 30 minutes waiting for it, although the options were very enticing.

Clearly the restaurant was quite busy (although not 100% full) and perhaps they have some kinks to work out following the reopening. Apart from the lethargic pacing we really enjoyed the food and atmosphere, which is among the best Boston has to offer.