EDITED RANT: RICARDO'S IN LOWELL (moved from Boston)
RANT: RICARDO'S IN LOWELL
Hello fair Chowhounders!
Following a chowhound tip, my husband and I decided to check out Ricardo's Italian restaurant in Lowell.
I am from Lowell. I know "Ricardo" is actually an Irish guy named Rick. I also knew that several of my relatives visited the place for dinner one night, only to have their orders mysteriously "lost"--and later found out this had happened to many people, supposedly as a ploy to sell more drinks to waiting diners. Still, I hoped for authenticity and a good experience. I like frequenting small, family-owned places, and, as I said, I'm a Lowellian at heart.
I had a horrible experience!
First of all, we were told there were "no seats" after calling ahead and being told we'd be seated right away--not to mention a half-empty dining room. There were two empty tables at the bar area, and so Ricardo (I presume) deposited us there. He then swaggered over to another couple and began to recite wine and dinner specials, and a host of appetizer selections. My husband and I received two sticky menus from a harried waitress. No recitation of specials. No welcome. No nothing!
Fine. I am a humble person. I don't require fanfare. But when someone messes with my drinks...THEN I get mean. I ordered prosseco. It came in a large tumbler-like glass. Ah, good! I thought. At least the portions are generous. Imagine my disgruntlement when I found that the prosseco was watered down and completely lacking in bite. If I want to drink flat ginger ale, I can go to Papa Gino's.
Whatever. Fine. I still held out hope that the food would be good. While perusing the menu, a jazz band began to play. My husband looked at me and started to chortle. "Isn't that....?" he asked. "Yes, it is! IT IS!" I yowled. The swanky jazz band was playing the theme song to "Three's Company." They then segued into other popular hits, such as the theme song from Hawaii Five-O and (I think) "The Pina Colada Song."
Meanwhile, our waitress had left us to our own devices. We spent a good 15 minutes playing name-that-hideous-tune, til finally she came by to take our order. I opted for the "chef's special" clams with linguine. My husband ordered his favorite, chicken piccata. I also took this opportunity to ask for water--which ended up arriving in stained glasses, without ice.
It was now 7 o'clock or so. I had plans with my elderly grandparents at 8 for Meadowlands ice cream, but figured we'd easily be done by then...after all, the place was booming and plates were flying out quicker than planes at O'Hare.
We waited. And waited. AND WAITED. After about 40 minutes (in which our beverages weren't refreshed--no water, no nothin'), I managed to flag down a waitress. "I'll find Ricardo," she huffed. I then saw her gesturing wildly to another waitress, who came to our table. "Sorry," she shrugged. "The kitchen is just busy." "Well, I have to be someplace at 8--I have a date with some elderly people and they don't stay out too late," I explained. "I'll find Ricardo," she replied.
I then saw her storm over to Ricardo, who was acting very major domo of his surroundings--backslapping and laughing with the band--who apparently peeked into the kitchen. "What did you order?" he asked. We told him. "Hmm. Well, it should be out soon. I--" A Lowellian VIP caught his attention. He was gone.
We continued to wait, amusing ourselves by watching the second-time around singles scene unfold at the bar. I began to wish I'd ordered a martini and an appetizer....
Finally, our plates arrived.
A moment for the food.
My husband's piccata resembled no rendition of the dish I've ever known. His chicken was doused in a gooey blackish-brown sauce that called to mind a failed home economics experiment. One taste made me recoil - it was overly lemony, viscous, with undertones of either lighter fluid or A1 steak sauce. Beneath this geyser lurked a tiny, overcooked piece of poultry.
My clams swum in a watery broth that tasted of canned tomato juice. The clams were not fresh, but at that point, I wasn't willing to quibble.
By now it was nearing 8. We had a few bites and asked for our meals to go. Sensibly, they offered us styrofoam containers--the ideal way to transport watery pasta! I accepted the styrofoam, which was already quaking under the weight of the pasta, and made haste.
Our meal came to $60. No apology for the lateness of the meal.
I will not be returning to Ricardo's.
Thank you for indulging my rant.
oh man, that is terrible and I'm one who recently raved about Ricardo's - one of my best meals (but service was terrible and I wrote them a letter).
I loved the looks of this Unums in Nashua - we recently ate down the street at Manhattan At Pearls and spoke to them at Unums while they were working there fixing it up. the menu looked phenominal as did the decor.
lex. don't sweat it. some places are good one day and h-e - double hockey sticks the next.
but service it seems, follows a trend. if it starts good and goes down... pretty sure it hits bottom soon. Bartenders and servers know which places are good and bad. A seasoned server with polish won't work with a turd.