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Bebo - Bad Experience

I had heard about the bad service at Bebo Trattoria, but being a very laid-back diner, I did not take heed.

A friend and I went to Bebo on an early Sunday evening and sat ourselves in the tables by the bar. After 15 minutes, no one had greeted us or come with menus. The bar itself was about a third full, and the restaurant similarly occupied. I walked up to the bar, and waited until the bartender hung out and chatted. Then waited after she looked at me, and passed right by. And again as the other bartender looked at me, then went by. I went back to my table without menus.

The manager himself then came around and suggested that we go sit at the bar. “Otherwise, we get no food?” my friend joked. “Right,” he replied. So we went and sat at the bar. And waited.

Finally, the bartender came and put some menus down and walked away. It took another 15 minutes or so for her to stop chatting and come back after we had put our menus down. We order. And wait. And wait. And wait again while others who ordered after us (similar entrees) received their food, prompt drinks, and silverware.

The other bartender then came around and mumbled something about the kitchen. Then asked if we wanted some wine while we waited. I ordered a pinot grigio. He came with it in a dirty glass, and took it back on his own accord. Instead of pouring a new glass, he took the wine, poured it out, rinsed the glass, and poured it back into the wet glass.

Presenting this mess, he said, “This is hand-washed.” The hand-washed glass, not the hand-dried glass. I was about ready to eat my own hand, so I took it with a smile and told him it was no matter. He smiled back and apologized for the various delays of the staff and kitchen, and offered the wine gratis.

We finally get our food. The Bebo pizza and calzone, which we ordered because we were running out of time, were undercooked, and the latter was a pale mess of dough and cheese. We had to ask for silverware, which came after yet another delay.

By the way, the wine ended up, “gratis,” on the final bill.

I’ve had servers drop plates on me, slosh wine on my hand, ask me out while my date was sitting on the other side of the table, clear plates before my party is finished, and serve the wrong drinks. I am no stranger to “bad” service, but more often than not, know that they’re harried and just trying to do a good job. But being blatantly ignored, treated like cattle, served undercooked and underwhelming food, and cheated on top of it all, is just insulting.


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  1. Link,
    I used to work in the area and went there a few times (I don't know why I just kept hoping it would be a good experience). It was dreadful everytime. The food would have been average if the service was not so horrid. I don't know how this restaraunt did well in the Washingtonian (I believe it got top 10?). Sounds very fishy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: xena1441

      Yeah, it's usually fair to go a few different times before shutting a place out. However, as you say, the service was so horrid that I have sworn off other Donna establishments. Never a penny more from me.

      I also wonder how it keeps getting such high reviews?

      1. re: link_930

        I've never worked in a restaurant, and so maybe I'm missing some other possible explanation, but it seems to me that either Donna fosters an atmosphere in which mistreating diners is a point of pride, or he treats his employees so badly that they don't care about doing a good job. Either way, it's sad.

    2. They're not getting another chance. How many things can they get wrong? Waiting and waiting and waiting. No half orders of pasta. Olive oil for bread poured onto colored plates so you couldn't see if there was oil or not.
      Forever to get the food which came at different times for everyone at the table. Half of us had no flatware because the table hadn't been properly set in the less than half-filled place. We finally had to get up and snatch it from other tables since there were no waiters to be found.
      When the single waiter came, he had to handle three tables - for 6, 10 and 12 diners - alone.
      Then when the main course finally arrived - again, all at different times - the staff evaporated once more. No flatware again since it hadn't been replaced when they cleared the first course. No waiters anywhere.
      One of us got up to find the manager who sneered, "We only cut pizza on request." Well, how are we supposed to know that we should ask, please? When told that we didn't have flatware to cut our pizza or eat our pasta, he snapped, "Why don't you have flatware?" as he turned on his heels and walked away. About 10 minutes later, he came to the table with a small pizza cutting wheel such as you'd buy at Safeway for $1 and attempted to cut the pizzas on the dinner plates.
      When we left, some of the kitchen staff were sprawled in chairs by the front door reception area, laughing and talking.
      Oh, the bathroom was dirty.

      4 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        From reading the comments on this board and elsewhere, I should mention that I had an excellent experience at Bebo tonight. Good service-I sat at the bar, and the bartender checked on me several times while I was waiting for a friend and was very attentive to our group through the night. Napoletana pizza was very good. I certainly plan on returning.

        1. re: MakingSense

          Why do people tolerate this for a moment?

          I am SO SICK of "we spent $200 for dinner and the food was awful and the service worse, and the same thing happened when we went there again!" Do you have that kind of money to throw away?

          I wouldn't take this treatment at some hole-in-the-wall with a server who just got off the boat and never waited before (and, yes, that has happened to me and, no, I didn't go back).

          "We only cut pizza on request"???? I can hear myself now ... "And how do most patrons eat uncut pizza?" - - No, no, not worth the effort - - instead, I'd be saying "this is entirely unacceptable, and we're leaving."

          Forgive my parting shot, but I've had world-class ethnic dinners for twenty bucks a person including a generous tip. If I had that kind of money, and more to throw away on a return visit for more abuse, I'd be seriously considering even the morality of doing so ... there are hungry and needy people out there.

          1. re: wayne keyser

            People in DC reward poor service by returning to the places that have treated them poorly because those spots are "trendy" or the chef is a celeb. Half the time these guys aren't anywhere near the place and if they are, they haven't touched anybody's food.

            Too many mid- to upscale restaurants are making their profits on their bar business, small plates, shared orders, appetizers, and chasing trends in designer digs. They don't have to train professional level staff for that. People are satisfied to be able to sample the signature dishes of a name-brand celebrity chef in glitzy surroundings that someone has decreed to be elegant. Anyone who has higher expectations is having an increasingly harder time finding it in the Washington area. Maybe the profits aren't there.
            You're right about sometimes getting a lot more respect for your dining dollars in some of those world-class ethnic places.

            In the case of Bebo, Donna should be ashamed of himself. How many have posted that the dining room was less than half-full when they went and they still had crappy service?
            Our over-burdened waiter was actually good, appeared to be new at Bebo, and had the good grace to be embarrassed that he was poorly supported by everyone in the place from the surly manager to the bumbling bussers to a kitchen staff incapable of timing the meals of a partially-filled room. We tipped him well and went out of our way to reassure him that we recognized it wasn't his fault.
            Rest assured, letters were written, we won't be back.

            1. re: MakingSense

              With the exception of the fine service, you are describing our experience at Central. Add on so much noise you couldn't have a convo without yelling. i wouldn't go back if they gave us a freebie.

              The worst ever in DC though, would be the little Indian place on CT in Woodley park, i forget the name unfortunately but we sat outside because there were enough other diners out there and we saw servers walking around so figured it would be ok. Well i wasn't. Serviced sucked. You almost had to beg for menus, more drink, etc. Then they served me a thali platter, which i normally love, and i could not eat it. I asked for MILD, and i even said "American mild" and i nearly had to ask for a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. Aside from the heat factor, each little dish was dried out, like it had sat out all day and then was blopped in into the little dishes when someone ordered it. I even ordered more raiti to sooth the heat and still couldn't eat it. i didn' t want to start over because by then i was queasy. Literally. Hubby was almost done w/ his food (he said it was marginal) and when the waiter FINALLY came back and commented on me not eating my food (i would have complained earlier IF he'd ever come back) i said "it was so spicy it made my stomach hurt" and he was like, "Do you want a box?" DUHHHHH! Hubby got the check and we scrammed. And no they didn't comp anything. It was really inexpensive so i didn't insist on kicking up a fuss (which i would have at a nicer place), and by this time i just wanted to get home and get rid of the evidence not to be nasty...but...

              Another funny bad experience, while not in DC was when we were at the Princeville resort in Kauai at their fine dining spot. Ate out on the balcony, watching the sun set over Bali Hai. THE most romantic setting i've ever seen. Menu was pacific rim. i ordered miso and just as the waitress came to serve it to me, she somehow tipped it the wrong way and send the entire bowl cascading down my arm, soaking my sweater and skirt of my sundress. Luckily it wasn't boiling hot, but it was hot nonetheless, and she was even more horrified than i was! She offered to have my clothes cleaned but we were leavign the next morning. They did comp my meal though which was proper comp i thought. And she was so contrite, and looked like she was going to cry, that i was comforting her!! The meal was fab BTW.

        2. My experiences at Bebo have been mixed, to say the least. The first time we visited, we ate at the bar. The food was amazing, the service was great. We couldn't wait to return. When we next went, the teen-age hostess was so rude that we walked out without eating. The third time, we sat at a booth, the good was great, and the service very good. Then we went there last night. A nightmare. The host had no record of our reservation [although he was the one who took it over the phone that morning]. When we were finally seated, we discovered that the couple next to us had the same problem. When we sat down, there was no silverware. When they brought bread, we had to ask for bread plates. We ordered [wine, salad, pizza]. The first thing to arrive was the pizza. We sent it back saying we wnated our salad [and wine] first. A few minutes later another waiter tried to deliver the pizza again. We sent it back. The wine and salad finally arrived [with tableware]. Don't bother with the ceasar salad. A failed attempt at trendy presentation. Then the pizza arrived, After a miserable time trying to cut it, it was obvious that they had simply put our pizza under a heat lamp for 20 minutes. Horribly disappointing. However, with plenty of time before the theatre, we pressed on. We ordered the olive oil cake for dessert. After 10 minutes, the waiter returned to say they didn't have it. We ordered chocolate gelato. After another 10 minute wait for someone to scoop ice cream into a dish it arrived. Five minutes later we received our spoons. When the bill arrived, it contained a $20 charge for orichette that we did not order.

          The meal wsa a disaster. I might try the bar again, but not the dining room. The couple at the next table had similar problems [that I won't recount]. The Chef is talented but he definitely needs someone experienced to run the front of the house.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Dakota Guy

            We were visiting some friends in the area Saturday night and decided to give it a try. Knowing full well what I was getting myself into we approached the place with an open mind. I have to say this was some of the worst service I have ever experienced. From no one at the front to seat people to a waiter who was clueless we could only laugh after all the missteps. We had finally had it when half of our meals came out wrong. It seemed like the place was staffed with people who have never worked in a restaurant. The food that came out right was actually quite good, but wow what a mess.

            1. re: Annapolis07

              Same night we were there. Horrible service [see above] but a huge crowd still trying to get in. Perhaps Chef Donna thinks there is nothing wrong as long as there is a line at the door. The place desperatley needs an expereinced manager for the front of the house.

              1. re: Dakota Guy

                tips for Bebo..eat at the bar, go off hours (Saturday lunch is a great time) and order the pizza precut..it is some of the best pizza in NOVA currently for this style and their pasta dishes have been very good to excellent..also try the hamburger for lunch during the week, it is outstanding....the dining room during peak hours is a just asking for trouble with service..we have dined at the bar on a Friday night and gotten decent service..I know a restaurant should be able to deal with peak times in its dining room, but paraphrase Rumseld, you go to eat with the Bebo you got, not the one you wish you had..that being said we have had many enjoyable meals at the bar with only a few misteps in many visits, but I understand the angst and a need for floor management. The place has alot of potential.

                1. re: prowarbler

                  Here's a better tip for Bebo: Don't go. It's over-priced, poorly cooked food. Sort of like Galileo was, but more of a rip-off because now it can be sloppy. (Or "rustic.")

                  Not to be overly harsh, but Roberta Donna's food has only impressed me in sandwich form - he made some very reasonable and delicious lunch fare on the days he fired up the grill at Galileo. The pork shoulder sandwich... man, so good. It gave me high hopes for Bebo, especially since it claimed to be an authentic Italian experience. You want an authentic Italian experience in DC? Try Dino. You want messy, inconsitent food, bad service, and high prices? Hello Bebo.

                  I'll be sticking to Dino for my closest-to-actual Italian fix, Luigi's for 70's-style Italian-American, and Two Amy's for Neopolitan pizza.

          2. Do they still have the guy in the leather jacket and scraggy beard that just seems to walk around the place, not really doing anything? The last time I went to eat there, he couldn't be bothered to look at us when speaking to us, we left and went to Jaleo and had a great time there. I went to bebo when they first opened, and it was very good for the money, but I doubt I'll go back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MsDiPesto

              That's funny you mentioned the guy wih the beard and the jacket and we had a negative experience with him last week. I work in Crystal City and 3 of us went for Pizza. The first round of Pizza came out burnt on the top. He tried to bring it back to us and say it wasn't burnt. Then he took it back and I just happened to be facing the pizza ovens...he then proceeded to give it to another waitor to serve to another table. Our second round of Pizza came out and one was fine and the other was now burnt on the bottom. We call both he and the waitor over again to show them and again he didn't react. My colleague had worked for an italian family for years and said the problem was that they were not cleaning the pizza oven properly which was why the pizza's were burning and leaving a soot like substance on the plate. Again now major reaction from him. As we were leaving, he said I hope you come back again. My colleague responded we won't be back anytime soon...he was like to be so harsh...my colleague responded...that he was lacking in customer service and should be more concerned about their product then he demonstrated. Needless to say, we won't be going back anytime soon

            2. On 11 April, at 7:00pm, my boyfriend and I sat down at a table at Bebo Tratorria for truly the worst dining experience we’ve ever had. I ordered a bottle of wine (#255 on page 11) and the waiter brought over the wrong bottle. We got the maitre’ d and sent it back. The maitre’ d over a second wrong bottle, and we pointed out this error again by pointing to the wine line list again. The maitre’ d o then told us the bottle we ordered wasn’t available. Instead of telling us that when we ordered, we were given 2 bottles of lesser quality of wine. Were they trying to pass them off as the bottle we ordered?
              There was no wine service from the waiter, who opened the bottles (we thought he was going to drop it at one point), and poured both glasses full. There was no opportunity to inspect the cork or taste the wine before decanting.

              There was no pepper in the pepper shaker. My Caesar salad was the worst presentation – pieces of romaine lettuce held together in a base of white unseasoned toast, not croutons. I cut into the toast and pieces of bread crumbs flew everywhere. No fresh pepper was offered for my salad. The waiter took my silverware with my salad plate and didn’t give me new silverware so when my entrée arrived, I stared at it. I wasn’t going to begin eating anyway as my boyfriend’s pizza margherita took several more minutes to arrive. Meanwhile, while we sat there waiting for his entrée, out of nowhere the maitre’ d placed a bowl of fettucine in front of him!! His pizza was awful – the crust not firm. It was soaked wet with balsamic vinegar and sauce, drippy, and sloppy. He picked up a piece and the toppings slopped onto his plate. He literally could not pick up a piece of the pizza and eat it because it was soupy!! It was truly disgusting for him to eat it and equally as revolting to watch him eat it. He had to use his fork to keep it from falling apart altogether. We complained to the waiter who said, “if you think that’s bad, you should’ve seen what the kitchen wanted me to give you the first time. That’s why your entrée took so long to come out.”

              While my boyfriend and I were eating, the waiter brought over the check and said, “I’ll take this when you’re ready.” We pointed out the obvious – that we were still eating.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Pumpkin11

                It's depressing to read such a multitude of bad dining experiences at Bebo, Chef Donna's current "flagship" restaurant. I have such great memories of Galileo in the mid-90s, when it was the pantheon of Italian cuisine in DC.

                I always thought highly of what the kitchen staff produced then, eating both in the main dining room and at that small but hopping chef's table in the kitchen. But the reason service was decent was due to the management of Michael Nayeri (you may remember the profile on him in the Post). I never had a service issue in my visits then.

                Many of the ex-Galileo waitstaff have since joined Nayeri at A La Lucia north of Old Town in Alexandria. No it's not always magnificent Italian cuisine but at least the service is better than that "provided" by the current Bebo bunch.

                1. re: bordeauxfan

                  I too have many fond memories of the food and service at Galileo. It is hard for me to fathom a chef as talented as Donna to apparantly not care any more. The service at Bebo is some of the worst in the DC area; does he not listen or is no one willing to tell him?

              2. We went a few weeks ago and experienced all of the waiting with no service, etc. The really asinine part though was when about 10 minutes after we ordered, the host came over and said "We have no pizza left. Either you can order something else or leave." We readily obliged the latter.

                How ridiculous is when you don't have 60% of your menu available and you're not going to tell people as soon as they step in the restaurant? Several people came in after us, including a party of about 9 and they told no one about the outage until they were ready to order. Mind you, this was a Sunday evening and there were only about three or four other parties when we got there, I don't see how they were so hard up for dough.

                The sad part is, I found it to be such a beautiful interior and now when we drive by its know as "The waste of space."

                1. Okay, I have HAD IT with this thread and the dozens of similar threads about expensive restaurants with hiodeous service and totally unworthy (even inedible) food.

                  True to form for this kind of complaint, the posts in this thread tell me that this problem is no secret. I wouldn't put up with this sort of problem even at the hole-in-the-wall places I frequent - WHY DO PEOPLE STILL GO, subject themselves to this, pay multi-huindred dollar checks, then react with surprise and even GO BACK?!?!

                  1. I went there once. The service was so bad it was actually funny. All around us were other complaining customers. It was like watching a play or some type of art piece. There were long waits every step of the way. I saw a pantomime across the room of a man getting up, going over to a waiter, pointing to his watch, gesturing to his table where his wife or girlfriend was sitting, the waiter shrugged and walked away. When I finally got my food, I think it was pasta with duck ragu, it was delicious. But still not worth it.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Suemelk

                      Suemelk, I think you have hit upon it: It's actually a long-term performance piece, with random, spontaneous audience participation. You think your waiter is some poor guy trying to scrape a living, but he's really the chairman of the theatre department of the University of Genoa (everyone wants a turn to be a waiter at Bebo, it's kind of like being a character on the Simpsons here) There's probably hidden cameras around the place and they broadcast it to Europe, where it's titled "Bebo Attendente" ("Waiting for Bebo"). Even the soccer is turned off in bars when it comes on.

                      1. re: MsDiPesto

                        We just went to Bebo last night. We sat at the bar because we wanted a casual dinner and also from what i read on here. It was actually a very pleasant experience. the bartender was a friend of Roberto and he said they were working very hard to fix the service issues. I asked about the italian wine and he let hubby and me taste 3 different ones before choosing. We each had a glass of Nebbiolo and we shared 2 cheeses; came w/ bread and EVOO. very nice; cheese was VERY reasonable. Then i had homemade black pappardelle with shrimp and they graciously agreed to sub the cream sauce for a fresh tomato version. It was delicious. Hubby had rigatoni with a bolognese made of several kinds of meat. Also delicous. The bartender was very solicitous and everything came in a timely fashion. I even had leftovers for lunch. The cost was pretty reasonable too.
                        We'll definitely go back. But it sounds like we will always be sitting at the bar...

                        1. re: DCDOLL

                          Had dinner there tonight. We went early, i.e., 5:30. The waiter brought a bottle of olive oil automatically even tho the menu says we would have to ask for it. I said I want a beer. Rather than telling me what's available, he said "Carlsburg okay?" The pizzas were actually pretty good, we had the sausage and broccoli pizza, and the ricotta rolled in ham pizza. The crust was perfectuly cooked and the tomato sauce, while slightly on the salty side, told us we're eating real pizza, not some frou frou pie. The service did go downhill after a few more tables showed up. I got tired of waiting so I just handed the waiter my credit card. He comes back later and tells me there was a mistake, that someone else paid my bill, is it okay if I pay the other person's bill? He said the difference can't be more than 3 or 4 dollars. He can't get me the correct bill because the manager's not there. I would consider going back but I would just sit at the bar.

                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                            That is so ridiculous. Did you not even get a discount on your bill?

                            1. re: xena1441

                              That just sounds sketchy to me... really sketchy. You shouldn't necessary get a discount on your bill, but you should in no way or shape get charged more than what you ordered, even just a few extra dollars, void out the ticket that is unpaid and put a new one in that is what you ordered? Sketchy...

                              1. re: xena1441

                                I have no idea what my bill should be since I received no itemized bill. I had two beers but I don't know how much they cost each. The pizzas were $32 total, salad was $9, and my wife's wine was $7.5. The bill sounds like it was in the ballpark and I rather just pay and leave. I don't know if I overpaid or underpaid. It was just a bizarre scenario.

                              2. re: Ericandblueboy

                                Sketchy and bizarre. I would have walked out. Or said, "well, I'll just pay for this meal the next time I return" :)

                                1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                  If I didn't know any better I'd say that Bebo was run by someone who's never eaten in a decent restaurant, let alone managed and run one. That kind of crap is absolutely amateur!

                                  1. re: aburkavage

                                    I walked by Bebo at 10:00 last Friday and the place was virtually empty, except for a couple tables and a few people at the bar. I guess it's finally sunk in that this is not a good place.

                          2. I went to Bebo Trattoria Sunday night as I had not read this topic thread and had heard good things about the pizza. Sadly, the pizza oven was dark and cold. The place was near empty. We asked about the pizza oven and were told the chef has gone to Italy - it sounded like a problem. Still we enjoyed our food, especially the mussels with pasta and the arugula & anchovy sauce with the salmon and the simple salad with fennel. We liked our server. He wanted us to be happy with everything and steered us well through the menu. However we could not get a dessert as the kitchen had closed without warning. We had not been lingering and we were hardly the last diners of the evening. Someone escorted our sever to the table to give us the news without apology. A cup of coffee? No. Our server was embarrassed; we felt badly for him. He had done his best for us and it all ended on a bad note. Too bad about the pizza.

                            1. I have dined at Bebo twice, and like many of you, will NOT go back (I don't think that the 3rd time will be the charm).

                              Both time, the food was delicious, but "chintzy." That is, there was no side dish/accompaniment to a $16 piece of fish at lunch (not even a sprig of parsley).

                              And like so may others have experienced, the service is incredibly inattentive. It's not that they don't have enough servers; they do. It's not that the restaurant was packed with diners either time. It wasn't. And it's not the kitchen. Our servers were just no where to be found. Or, we could see them, but they would NEVER cast a glance our way. It's the first time I've ever thought of snapping my fingers at a waiter to get their attention (not that I ever would; that's the height of rude and crass).

                              In the final insult, when we were ready to leave, they were out of stickers to validate our parking (after waiting 10 mins. as they searched for the stickers). They made no offer to pay for our parking either (they advertise valdiated garage parking on their web site).

                              We told the manager about the service as we left. He apologized, but seemed unfazed. It's a shame because the food is good and most everything else in Crystal City is a chain restaurant.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: srchanin

                                Has anyone ever spoken directly to Roberto Donna about this? It is inexplicable when you think the same man that was behind Galileo is behind this? Has the Post or Washingtonian written on the story behind the story--because there must be one.

                                We haven't been to Bebo in a few months and stopped going more because the food wasn't very good than disappointment with the service (though that wasn't too good for us either).

                                We noticed that Mr. Donna was there a couple of the times we'd gone (again, this was several months ago) but didn't talk to him about it at the time--partly because we were more surprised than totally offended. We did ask then about any plans he had to re-open Galileo and how much we missed it, etc. He wasn't bullish about that happening--difficult economy, big committment, etc.

                                Any other intel out there? This just doesn't make any sense. I'd heard that he was in the running to take over the old Maestro space in Tysons that is now going to Gordon Ramsay's company.

                                1. re: nwdchound

                                  service at Galileo was often crap, one benefit of working next door were the "grill day" lunches - self serve. good food and no service expectations - hmm, a formula?

                                  1. re: nwdchound

                                    There was an Ask Tom chat that talked about the awful service there, and there might have been a later response from the restaurant as I recall, you could search their archives to get that information, it was months ago as I recall.

                                    1. re: ktmoomau

                                      Thanks kt. I'll take a look at the archive. IMHO though, the issues aren't just about the service; they're also very much about the food, which is just very inconsistent and seems to be the work of an entirely different chef than the person behind Galileo/Galileo grill. Very tough to understand what's going on but, I guess as long as there's no explanation or improvement, people will just continue to stay away. Wouldn't it be a great thing to get Chef Donna himself to post here? Probably a pipe dream and maybe that's at the root of the problem.

                                2. Today I went to Bebo for the first time. Remembered the general tone of "bad service, get the pizza". That's what happened.

                                  Okay enough pizza, but not worth $16 plus tip and tax by any stretch.

                                  Nice space, but they seem to have only put money into the space, not service training/hiring or (at least) the pizza. Shame from a Donna offering.

                                  Went at 1 and only a few tables were filled. Maybe the word is out.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                    Fortunately, there's no shortage of decent pizza in Crystal City, served by people who know what the hell they're doing and don't charge you the month's rent for it.


                                    Cafe Pizzaiolo
                                    507 23rd St S, Arlington, VA 22202

                                  2. Link,

                                    I haven't been to Bebo in over a year because of what happened on that final visit. I brought my parents and brother , who were visiting from out of town, for a lunch. I ordered a sausage sandwich, my parents ordered meatballs and garlic bread (no pasta because my mom has diabetes), and my brother ordered pizza. We waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, the server informed me that the kitchen had no sausage. No problem. I ordered meatballs and garlic bread instead. Meantime, my parents' dish plates came and consisted of a few meatballs mounded upon a mountain of spaghetti. I could understand if it meatballs and garlic bread was not actually a menu item, but it was. They had to send it back. Now none of us had food. Then the server returned to tell my brother that the pizza oven was broken and that he should order something else, which he did. When my meatballs came, they were rubbery and full of gristle. My parents' had bits of spaghetti left on them. The final kick in the head is that as we were leaving, we saw Roberto Donna up in the front of the restaurant giving a cooking demonstration. My brother swears that one of the pupils gloated at us. Ironic that he was there teaching a class, beside the broken pizze oven, while his restaurant is crumbling. Sad.

                                    1. I work across the street and have eaten lunch at Bebo's maybe 6 times this year. The service has gotten *slightly* better (from a really low bar), but maybe it's just because the place is empty. I went last week, ordered a mushroom pasta, received a squid ink pasta and got attitude when I sent it back. Then, my mushroom pasta came out barely cooked (and I know what al dente tastes like). I didn't bother to send it back again, but this was my final lunch at Bebo's. I really don't understand how it stays in business.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: amymon

                                        Sietsema reports Bebo is gone for good. I gave it two chances and had terrible experiences both times. The sloppy service was the worst of it all.


                                          1. re: Dennis S

                                            I walked by today, and there are signs on the door saying they've closed and a new restaurant is coming. It was kind of eerie looking because everything inside looks like it was ready to open one day, then they decided against it. The tables are all set, and everything in the pizza kitchen in front is still as it was.

                                          2. re: jfw

                                            It is hard to wish ill on anyone, especially in these times, but given the pretentious bad service and the meh food, it's hard not to feel about smug this.

                                            I do feel for the second layer of support staff-the bus boys, dishwashers, etc-because they were never part of the direct problem and are now among the many unemployed.

                                            But Bebo, a Roberto Donna enterprise, left a lingering bad taste in many people's mouth. We didn't expect Galileo when he opened Bebo, but we expected and deserved better. For me, at least, it is a factor I won't forget when choosing where to spend my hard earned money in this economy, if Donna ever opens his new place.

                                        1. Maybe this should be on a separate thread, but is Bebo really closed now? The website doesn't indicate that and is advertising wine dinners in May and June. Just wondering...I ate there once and wouldn't go back, but then wound taking a cooking class there (it was a gift) and that was actually a really nice experience.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: cookie44

                                            Yes.....now it is official!
                                            I had been told a while ago by ownership that things weren't going well and opened my mouth at that point too soon. But they were in trouble for a while.
                                            Roberto Donna just didn't or couldn't hire the needed person for the front of the house to keep the guests happy. The "Full Circle" as it is called was just never complete. In Fact it seemed like a half circle most of the time.
                                            Roberto blamed the economy for this saying business went down by 40%, but the truth of the matter is this. It is a bad area. It is hard to find good people and managers to work in conditions where the restaurant isn't that busy. Having done this down town, maybe we would be talking a different game right now, but it isn't.
                                            Roberto is a great chef, that we know. The true deal here is this......We have not seen the last of Donna nor his great cooking. Hopefully we have seen the last of his Bebo style though!

                                            1. re: themeatguy

                                              Sounds like Donna is in deep denial. Economy, indeed. Business was bound to drop off based on most diners' experience from day one -- long before the economy was an issue. I'm even somewhat skeptical about the location claim. Donna's cooking should have been enough of a draw to make a less-than-stellar location into a destination restaurant.

                                              Folks wanted to like Bebo. We certainly did. My husband works at Crystal City, and we continued to eat there about two-three visits beyond the point when any reasonable person would have said "Basta" and taken his/her business elsewhere.

                                              At the beginning, we excused the service based on the newness of the enterprise. Then, we went through a period during which we overlooked the continuing service problems because we thought the food was worth the aggravation. When the food went downhill, we eventually gave up hope and stopped eating at Bebo.

                                              In contrast to Bebo's situation, I think the economy is going to play a significant role in Donna's new enterprise. In the years since Galileo shut its doors, chefs have taken their game to new levels of excellence. With folks scaling back on spending, I think a sizable percentage of diners will choose restaurants where the chefs haven't generated such ill will before giving Donna's new place a try.

                                              1. re: Indy 67

                                                I had a terrible meal about 2 months ago before an Arena production and was in too much of a hurry to voice my dissatisfaction but callewd the next day to complain about the inedible and burnt pizza, olive oil substitute and poor service.. I was sent a 100 dollar gift cert which I was unable to use last weekend because I chose to go 2 days after they had shut the doors for good. If Roberto Donna opens another resto I plan to produce the gift cert in hopes of getting an edible meal. I had been a fan since the first Galileo opened near Dupont and found it hard to believe that Donna put his name on Bebo and let it disintegrate so far.