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Locanda Vini e Olii: is it worth it?

  • g

I’ve been wanting to check out Locanda Vini e Olii for a long time after reading a few great reviews. Last Saturday I called at around 3 and was told by a very cold and dismissive woman that the only times they had available that night were 6:00 and 9:30! I took the 6:00 res and figured maybe it’s super busy because it’s good. Maybe I’d be seated at 6:30 so I’ll grab a cocktail at the bar first...or a nearby bar?

So my wife and I drive over there and find out that it’s in a real sketchy part of Clinton Hill. There’s NOTHING nearby. We walk up and see that the resto is completely EMPTY. It’s 6:00 and the door is still locked. Not a soul in the front. We gave up, went back to Park Slope, put our names down at Al Di La and, 45 minutes later, had a great meal.

Being forced to eat dinner at 6:00 is uncivilized but I’ll accept it if the place is fantastic. But being forced to eat at 6:00 and then showing up to an obviously empty resto is not excusable.

Is this place worth it or are they sliding into the doldrums of restaurant death? Anybody been recently? I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt. Should I?

Locanda Vini e Olii
129 Gates Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

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  1. no excuses for the restaurant they acted badly- but its not a particularly sketchy neighborhood - just not commercial.

    1. don't think this thread will stay as it's not about food, but you should call the restaurant again, ask to speak to the owner/manager and tell them what happened. taking a reservation for 6 pm and then not even being open then is totally and completely inexcusable!

      1. no, the food is not worth it. my one meal was disappointing - 4 people and nothing was very good, and some of it was barely mediocre.

        1. I went to L V&O a few years ago with some friends who live in the area. It's a good local restaurant -- I don't think it's a destination place, but it's certainly one of the best in the Ft Greene / Clinton Hill area.

          Taking a res and then not being open is kind of appalling though. Did you call the place back and see if they had any kind of excuse?

          1. Not a sketchy neighborhood at all, just a residential one. You certainly wouldn't think it "sketchy" if you saw what the houses cost over there now. But my 2 trips to Locanda V&O left me deeply unimpressed with the food (bland and not very carefully prepared), the service (indifferent), and the owners - or at least the folks I took to be the owners - who seemed to be busy putting on some sort of Italian-themed show for thier friends in the restaurant to the exclusion of other customers.

            1. Thanks, folks, for corroborating my gut feelings. I’m scratching them off my list.

              No, I never called the owners back because I just didn’t want to get involved in a confrontation. I was pretty annoyed and the women I spoke to earlier was not very nice so any phone conversation could have gotten ugly. Who needs the grief?

              I don’t mean to dis Clinton Hill. It’s a great neighborhood, beautiful architecture, prime real estate, etc. I was only trying to describe my first impressions of that specific corner where L V&O is located. On a cold afternoon, at dusk, with no pedestrians, it doesn’t really shine.

              1. Umm, I've had the complete opposite experience the three times I've been in the past 2 years. Wonderful treatment, amazing food, unbelievable wine. Never packed, but always buzzing. A little too pricey for casual dining, but not bad for a celebratory meal.

                That corner of Cambridge Place is not heavily-trafficked, true, but it's a particularly pretty block in a great neighborhood.

                1. i have to say that the one time we ate here it was a huge disappointment. the attitude of the staff stunk and the portions were tiny. i thought nouvelle cuisine went out with the 80's. there are so many more great (not good, not mediocre, but great) restaurants that blow this place out of the water!

                  1. The food here is absolutely stunning! The atmosphere is charming and the service is great.
                    Totally worth every penny. (And it's lots of pennies)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: feeby64

                      I live nearby and would not go back, but my wife liked it. Staff was very dismissive and non attentive.
                      If I didn't live here, I would not have gone.
                      I think the couple who own/run it just do it as a lark. Place seems better as a stop by for an espresso place than a meal.

                    2. I live in the neighborhood, and as far as I know, Locanda has always opened at 6pm- I'm sure you were a little early and they were still setting up. I don't know why it would be shocking to find a restaurant empty at the exact minute that they open. An empty restaurant is the trade-off you make when taking a very early reservation. If they're empty at 8 on Saturday- then you can worry. Also why would you not just call them and let them know you were there?

                      I've been going there steadily for the past few years and its been getting better and better. The management must have traded hands or something recently because everything from the food to the service has gotten even better in the last few months. The menu changes every day and the wine prices are comparatively low to other restaurants. I went there for their Valentine's Day tasting menu last night (usually the kiss of death even for a good restaurant) and it was awesome. Sometimes now I even have too hard of a time getting a reservation. But that's just a good sign for them I guess. And they can almost always squeeze you in. Give it another shot.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: felice85

                        Food here is wonderful, the wine list has wonderful collection of Sicilian wines I have never heard of.. The people there are so warm and gracious and the food is unique.. The last time we were there I had this dish where they put eggplant in the pasta dough.. all homemade pastas, the cook is from Italy..

                        It's strange to me to hear bad things about this place when it's one of the best Italian Restaurants in Brooklyn.

                      2. I live in Manhattan and have made the trek out to LV&O about 10 times over the past three years -- it's always been well worth it to me. The place, in my opinion, is superior in the quality of the ingredients and the inventiveness of the cuisine to many other better-known Brooklyn Italians (Al Di La, Po, and Franky's among them) and the charming atmosphere is pretty hard to match anywhere else. The service can sometimes be a bit free-form, but I've never encountered any rudeness from people who work there. This first post is from 2007, and I would say the neighborhood has become significantly less "sketchy" than it was then (although I would agree with others that it wasn't even particularly sketchy then).

                        True, no excuse for opening late, but the post begs some questions. Was anyone in the restaurant? Did they knock on the door? How long did they wait? I can't imagine why they wouldn't have called the restaurant's number from a cellphone before heading all the way back to Park Slope...

                        Finally , if you'd like to "give them the benefit of the doubt," maybe it's worth coming to grips with your fear of confrontation and calling them to get an explanation (and hopefully an apology) before posting a killer review on Chowhound. Just a thought.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: TELjr

                          Some of us go back to when they opened in '02. Here's a link to an old thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/239143 It's always interesting (to me, anyway) to see how things develop over time. I think its time for me to return to check it out but I gotta say that these quirks didnt just happen overnight either.

                          By the way, although I'd disagree with you (TELjr) about al di la (I think it's better), I cant disagree with you about the other comparison places. However, these days there are more choices than what you've put out there and I'd say that my memory of the food at Locanda wouldnt stand up to meals I've had at Aliseo, Roberta's, Noodle Pudding and a couple of others that now dot the landscape.

                          Noodle Pudding
                          38 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                          665 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                          261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206

                          1. re: Steve R

                            Steve, I love Noodle Pudding as well, but I think there is a nuanced simplicity to the food at LV&O that very few other places can match, in Brooklyn or elsewhere. It might be worth giving it another try, especially since ownership changed hands last year (same excellent chef, Michele Baldacci, but new sommelier and manager). Haven't tried Aliseo, though, but will now -- thanks.

                            Noodle Pudding
                            38 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                            665 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                            1. re: todlippy

                              Thanks for the Locanda ownership change tip. I just went on their site and read about it. I think you're correct and it's time to try it again. I havent been back to Aliseo recently, but the owner/chef is one of the Slow Foods members in NYC and, whenever I've been there, has also produced food which, as you state, has "nuanced simplicity". Try to go when he's there (I assume he still is).

                              665 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                              1. re: Steve R

                                We just went last night and I forgot how much i loved this place.. I hate to say it but, i like it even more with the new owners.. It seems to have a lot more of a relaxed vibe with out the old owner running all over the place..

                                The food, remains the same if not better than last time... They even are using a different recipe for their bread.

                                We sat down and ordered the salt cod with beans... This was outstanding.. We asked our waiter to pair a white with it and it was a great pairing.. Kind of like the Muscadet of Italy.. it was a dry Sicilian that went really nicely with the fish..

                                We moved on to a trio of appetizers.. Pork Tonnato.. I have only had vitello tonnato, actually if you ever go to Peidmonte they pretty much serve it at every meal.. This was a wonderful rendition.. Also there was fried bread and a nice little piece of house made duck pate..

                                We also had a rice dish with chicken livers.. They actually paired a white with this too that went so well.. i forgot the name... However, the rice was cooked perfectly, not like a risotto because the grains stayed separate.. A home run.

                                We then moved on to another wonderful dish... It was a house made picci.. Picci is the pasta which is made from semolina and water and run through a meat grinder.. it comes out in thick strands.. They also added a bunch of pepper to the picci and served with some wonderfully roasted red onions, some hard sheeps cheese and little flakes of tarragon.. This was crazy good.. the pasta was cooked so perfectly,...

                                dinner with 5 glasses of wine and all this food was like 125 bucks before tip...

                                The place has gotten cheaper and the food is most likely better..

                                I think this is my favorite restaurant in Brooklyn right now..

                                1. re: Daniel76

                                  They changed the bread???!? In my opinion, that was the only hole in the entire menu. I'll have to hustle on over there. Thanks for the tip.

                                  1. re: Peter

                                    same Tuscan bread with no salt but, it's lighter and more airy...

                                    we might have had 3 glasses of wine last night... we also had the tripe... We were considering between a few dishes and they brought out a half portion for six bucks.. this was spot on..