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Oct 13, 2007 07:27 PM

Disappointing Dinner at Celeste

My husband and I went to dinner at Celeste for the first time tonight with my parents and brother, who were visiting from out of town. The food was fine, but the service was incredibly disappointing. It started off well enough: we got there before 7 and had to wait only 25 min. or so for a table. It was cramped inside, but not unbearable. Things started going wrong when there was a mistake with my husband's and my father's orders. My husband ordered the grilled calamari salad (a special), as did my dad (which was the only dish he ordered). And my husband ordered the mussels special for his entree. The waiter brought fried calamari for my dad and just mussels for my husband. When my husband said he'd ordered the mussels special, saying, "Didn't that come with spaghetti or something?" the waiter said, "No, fettucine. And you ordered the mussels." Well, yes. If there were 2 mussels dishes, why wouldn't the waiter double check which one he actually wanted? And instead of apologizing for the mix-up, he just said in a kind of irritated voice, "So, are you going to eat that?" Same thing w/my dad's dish. He'd ordered the calamari special and the waiter never bothered to clarify (neither my dad nor my husband realized there were 2 calamari appetizers and 2 mussels entrees) and so instead he was brought the fried dish. If the ordering is ambiguous, why not clarify? And then once the confusion's been discovered, why not at least apologize and offer to correct it? My husband and dad both graciously ate the dishes they didn't really want, but what happened to the customer always being right?

On top of that, the food didn't wow me (the margherita pizza was way too salty, the calamari salad too heavily dressed, and the egg noodles with cabbage, shrimp, and sheep's cheese was solid, but nothing amazing. I'm bummed that the service was so crappy b/c this is right near our new apartment, but with so many other options in the neighborhood, I think we'll have to pass next time.

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  1. Was Carmine there? I'm guessing not. Celeste is always scattershot service at best, but things generally run smoothly when Carmine is in the house.

    It's definitely not a place to go for a relaxing meal. I bet if you tried it again during the week at an odd hour you will have a different experience. you get what you pay for! i'm a fan, but i pick my spots on when i go. Never ever on a saturday night!

    2 Replies
    1. re: harrison

      He was there, but we heard from a regular while waiting that he was in a bad mood. I guess bad moods can be infectious. And you're right, for the price, it wasn't bad. Maybe we will try it again on a weeknight (maybe in a couple months!). Thanks for the tip!

      1. re: kfm

        I've never seen him in a bad mood. Maybe he got some cheese confiscated at JFK! Then again, I swore off saturday nights a long time ago...

        Head up to Gennaro (92nd/Amsterdam) and give that a try. Some prefer it over Celeste.

    2. Try it again, and definitely on a week night. Towards the later side if you can! Have a cheese plate, it makes the world a better place!

      1 Reply
      1. re: sharonm

        Agreed. Very early, or very late works best..

      2. You are right on with the service at Celeste, it's terrible. Even when "Carmine" (I assume he's the cheesy guy who walks around shaking hands with the female guests) was there our meal was awful. The food is bad, the service is bad, and it was dirty. I'll never understand the line out the door. . .

        1. Only went to Celeste because we needed something in the area. Service was awful, and minus the fried artichoke, the food was depressing and disappointing. Maybe because I live in the best hood for food (West Village), with places like Piccolo Angolo, Bar Pitti, Da Andrea (I could go on), Celeste was way below average. The cheese plate is overrated, and having the host (Carmine?) discuss the plate while constantly stopping to yell something in italian was actually annoying. The chocolate cake was also bad. Oh well, I'm sticking to what I know next time (i.e. staying in my neighborhood).