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Mar 4, 2007 09:32 AM

Sfoglia dinner.. Disappointed

We were really excited to try Sfoglia, Lex and 92nd, but were left a bit disappointed last night..

For starters, we were sat in a communal table. We weren't too happy about that but the worst part was that they sat a family with a very loud child that kept dropping glasses and plates next to us.. (We rarely get to go out without our children, so this was our big adult night out .....)

I had the pappardelle bolognese, very tasty, yet not the best by any stretch.. Small portion for the entree size, maybe two more noodles than the app size...

He had the pappardelle as an app and the lamb cutlets.. The lamb was tasty but came with no accompaniments, luckily he ordered a side dish..

Most desserts had to be pre-ordered, which we didn't do, not knowing how full we'd be.. STill hungry, I ordered the semi-freddo, which was OK.. He got some chocolate flan-type thing with blood oranges named Moroni, or something.. the waiter didn't even know how to pronounce the name.. It was passable, but not at $12..
The meal was very expensive for what we had and the atmosphere didn't live up to the price tag.. There were babies being breastfed in the dining room and strollers blockign the entryway.
Won't be returning...

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  1. Just made another reservation here
    Was also at communal table last trip and shared the gigantic table with a lovely older couple. The table was separated with a huge bowl of fresh quince. It was beautiful, The pre-ordered desserts of bread pudding and daily tart along with the bread make this a must go, even if only for dessert
    I agree starters and mains were less than otherworldly, but was treated great and dessert was over the top

    1. What did you think of Today's NYT 2 star review?

      1. Ciao Hounds,

        I was mystified by today's review. I've been three - perhaps four - times and have always been underwhelmed. First by the chilliness of the welcome at the front door. Then, when I got over that, by the food, which was never more than reasonably ok. It doesn't compare to somewhere like Lupa, which is more or less in the same price bracket. I also agree that the service is spotty, at best.

        It is in a culinary wasteland, so it stands out for that reason. But I can't think that's why Bruni gave it 2 stars.

        - Sean

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sean Dell

          As I posted the other day, our first visit - shortly after they opened - was fine; great food at a reasonable price. Service was mediocre, but we chalked that up to opening time shake-out. Our last visit, several months ago, was just the opposite in all respects except service, which continued to be mediocre: higher prices and dishes that just didn't have anything special about them. The bread - which is outstanding - was the best thing about the meal. I doubt we'll be back either (not that anyone will care, apparently).

          1. re: Striver

            We live almost around the corner, and went excitedly when it opened.. We have not been back since: the food was terribly mixed (excellent chicken al mattone, branzino in salt; very poor pasta in a thin, oddly herbed sauce), service distracted, seating incredibly uncomfortable if not impossible under the "country tables". I admire their embrace of simplicity, freshness, and civility, but not at the expense of pleasure. Something amateurish about the place--like the clumsy house bread that reminds me of grad school "gourmet" dinner parties of yore.

            1. re: obob96

              Amateurish is a great word to describe Sfoglia.. Those cheap kitchen towels as napkins immediately turned my husband off (he's a chef)...I agree that Bruni only gave it 2 stars because of its lackluster location.. This place doesn' t hold a candle to the Italian spots I've enjoyed lately such as Spigolo and Crispo..

        2. I'm glad for Frank Bruni that he had such a great experience at Sfoglia. Perhaps he's becoming recognized.

          For us unrecognizables, the experience was at best hilarious in its ineptitude, and at worst extremely offensive. And mostly because of the insufferable host.

          My wife and I went with some friends shortly after they opened, when they were touting their BYOB status. My summary of the experience:

          -- long confused wait to get in, no one seemed to be in charge, very typical of a new restaurant;

          -- the inhospitable host led us to our bench. It being a rainy evening, I asked about checking coats and umbrellas. I swear he looked at me as if I had two heads, but OK, he took them;

          -- generally acceptable meal although to my memory nothing special. (My wife, on the other hand has consistently spoken highly of the food in spite of the other problems.) The room was cramped and oddly configured, the lighting too bright, the faux-rustic design scheme pretentious and clunky. Pleasant waitress.

          -- the kicker came at the end of the meal, at billing time. I objected to the $8 per bottle (we'd done two) corkage fee, and the waitress brought over Mr. Smarmy, the host. He pointed out that the corkage fee was posted in the window, so we should have known about it. But he offered to remove it from the bill, and I accepted the offer. He immediately appeared with the revised bill, and our coats.

          Anyway, maybe it's not fair to let the unpleasantness of one person prejudice us against the whole restaurant, but he was the host after all -- a person perhaps more unfit for a job than anyone I've ever seen. Again, I'm glad for Frank Bruni, whose writing and approach to restauranting I admire and enjoy, but as for me, I will not go back there. Too many better places in this neighborhood and city!

          1. Ok Puddle, you've outed him. I wrote about the chilly reception at the front door. The guy is, let's face it, downright rude.

            Bruni obviously didn't get this treatment, or we would have heard about it, I'm sure.

            - Sean

            3 Replies
            1. re: Sean Dell

              I too had a negative experience at sfoglia. I really feel it's worth mentioning b/c it's such a pain to get a table there...such a pain, in fact, my friend and I sat at the bar. usually, that's fine for us - bartenders are generally fun and knowledgable, but this guy Peter was horrible. someone mentioned amateur...that's exactly right.

              our cheese plate was lovely, and the peppers/onions side dish is fantastic (though served in a diner soup cup), and my friend had the above mentioned pappardelle, which we enjoyed. I had the orata. it now comes whole, not in parchment (or however they used to do it). my fish was slightly overcooked...still certainly edible, especially after 10pm. oh yes, did I mention they would not allow us to order food when we first sat b/c they wanted us to move to other bar seats so we waited for another couple to finish eating/paying the bill then switched? that after ordering a $65 bottle. that was annoying to say the least.

              anyway, I mentioned the overcooking to Peter who stared blankly at me. I told him I was not sending it back, but that I thought he should tell the chef since it was the first night with the new preparation. Another blank stare. At that point he was consumed by admiration for Dave Lieberman, who was sitting beside me.
              He (Peter) also could not name the cheeses on our plate. He had to get a waiter for that. If the bartender is your primary waiter, he really really should be trained. Trained in things like: telling me the orata is gigantic, really meant to be shared (my friend does not eat fish).

              I could go on, but the main point I am trying to make here is: there are many great Italian restaurants in this city, don't think sfoglia is doing you any favors by fitting you in. head downtown to Barbuto, for one.

              1. re: sarapeater

                Sarapeater -- I wonder if he wanted you to move from sitting at the bar because he doesn't feel comfortable enough with the menu to serve you.... (?)

                Bruni obviously didn't get the rude treatment from the host because the host knows exactly who he is.

                I wish more restaurant critics would make a point to go incognito for at least one of their visits to a place for a review. That way we'd get a better, more democratic view of the places they write about. Ruth Reichl said she used to do that somtimes.

                Then again, that's why there's chowhound...

                1. re: egit

                  we were moved from one end of the bar (the corner) to the other end. we were not offered a table.