Coco Lezzone - AVOID. Horrendous service.
I'd like to tell you guys about my experience during the Taste of Italy last weekend. Me and my SO was quite excited by this event as we don't spend a lot of time on College St. Although the food which were distinctly Italian were few and far in between, we did have a wonderful and exciting time.
So it was with high expectations that we walked into Coco Lezzone, expecting to have a nice romantic evening and perhaps put another restaurant to our "Will Return" list, as you can never have too many great choices of places to eat.
Firstly, we wander in and looked at the menu. We were greeted by a nice bartender who asked us to wait for a minute while she gets a waiter to help us. We witnessed then an exchange of some "unpleasantries" between a waitor and the bartender. This sent out a bad vibe to me but I brushed it off. After we were led to our seats, we looked through the menu again but because of the dim lighting it was hard to make out. Our waitor comes by and asks us what we would like to drink, perhaps a martini, a bottle of wine, etc. My SO says "no thank you".. and an awkward silence ensues. After a few seconds of starring, he asks us again what we'd like drink. Now after having gelatos and italian sodas all day, I wanted to hold off on the drinks for a bit. So I said, "No thanks, just water." He then asks again, "so you don't want a bottle of wine? Water eh, so would it be bottle, sparkling?" and I said "no, tap is fine." Somehow, he was unimpressed with this and exclaimed in an insulting and offputting manner, "TAP water! EXCELLENT." we were quite shocked at the audacity of this waitor.. with our mouths agape he whips our menus off our table and left.
Now before you tell me that it is customary to drink some wine or have their overhyped carbonated water and that I was cheap so deal with it, I'd like to say that I am willing to spend a lot of money on good food and desserts and even wine when I feel like it. At that moment I don't believe that I should have to deal with this sort of unprofessional and personally insulting inuuendo that I am somehow incapable of spending a sufficient amount of money. I found the experience both offputting and irritating since I've never been so insulted. We ended up leaving because this left such a sour taste in our mouths.
All's well that ends well, as we ended up wandering into La Forchetta, after we almost gave up on Italian food because of that episode. We had an amazing 3 mushroom risotto and grilled calamari... with a great waitress which restored my faith in humanity.
Without a doubt, Coco Lezzone and its College St. counter-part, 65 Degrees, are a prime example of pourly conceptualized and managed restaurants from A-Z. They are the epitimy of everything wrong in this city when it comes to restaurants. Makes the old school red sauce restaurants of New York's Mulberry St. look like Splendido!
Thank god - industry insiders who have had the terrible misfortune of having worked @ Coco Lezzone have been forever trying to warn customers off the place. The ethos of the place is vacuous; the ownership is contemptuous of anything that doesn't translate into money, RFN. Do yourself a favour and stay to the wide side of the street when in its orbit. This is not a restaurant - it is an abatoir to all that is and can be gratifying about dining in Toronto.
Sorry to hear about your terrible experience. I really get peeved too when I order a glass of non-carbonated, non-bottled water and get attitude from waitstaff. Your post just reminded me that it's okay to walk out or say "you're pissy attitude is not appreciated" to someone who is being rude. Sometimes I forget that it's okay to do that and not have to suffer through an entire meal of sub-par service! I suddenly feel empowered now...
I agree this is not a restaurant - it is more like eating in someone's home during a great party. Coco Lezzone is amazing. I have entertained large groups there on several occassions and there is no doubt about how much the management aims to please. They not only look after your personal requests, but they make you feel like guests - and I must say that not all restaurants can do that so effectively.
It is unfortunate that some of you have encountered snobby or pissy waitstaff - I guess it goes with the territory of running a resto - it happens just about anywhere. And sometimes it is the patron that brings that worst side out when the waiter is having a weak moment while playing the role.
Coco does fish and seafood with expertise. Their salads and apps are normally great too. Desserts are tremendous.
Great date spot for a young couple and great spot to entertain out of town guests!
Stay away from 65 Degrees though - lousy food.
I stopped recommending Coco Lezzone years ago. For every good plate (and I have had a couple of good ones) there's a disappointment around the corner. There's not much terribly inventive about the menu, which would be excusable if it were really well executed old school, but it's neither. The wine list is good, but overpriced. For the money that you drop there, there are much more reliable choices in that 'hood.