Aiello's in Phoenix
New restaurant opened with plenty of advance publicity which tells me the guy knows some people or paid a lot of money for PR. Been there twice, once for dinner and once for lunch. Both were unpleasant experiences. Dinner was on a Friday night at 8 p.m. with a reservation. Restaurant was probably 2/3 full. We were with another couple. Ordered antipasti plate. Nothing exciting or original but it was good. Three different chicken entrees for the others and I had the meatballs-"famous" meatballs. I hated mine-meatballs were dry and crumbly, sauce tasted more like tomato paste than tomato sauce. I'm from NY and this was not NY Italian food as billed. Chicken dishes were okay-just okay. Waitress was terrible. Rushed us. Tried to take plate while friend had fork in her mouth! Then she brought check without asking if we wanted dessert. We did. We had to ask! Ordered zabaglione. Wife came to table to tell us they were out of it. My experience is that it is prepared at the time ordered so I asked if they had Marsala, egg yolks and sugar. She wasn't happy but agreed that chef/owner would make it for us. Dessert served by chef who made snide remark (I'm sure he thought he was being funny) about how much it hurt his arm to have whipped up the dessert for us. Then he proceeded to sit down and eat his dinner which is why-I'm guessing-he didn't want to make dessert for us! Next went for lunch with friend. Restaurant not even 1/3 full but right before Christmas. Had minnestrone soup. Tasted good. Had caprese sandwich. Ugh. No self respecting chef should have sent out those tomatoes. They weren't even pink! They were close to green. No basil on sandwich. Mozarella was okay. Fries that accompanied sandwich were the best thing on the plate. Friend had salmon. Said it was okay. I didn't taste it. Then chef came around to schmooze the tables but he was wearing a soiled chef coat. Yuck.
I think both service and food has to improve. Maybe he's got enough friends to keep him in business but don't be fooled-the food is not that good. In fact, it's not good at all. I'm not a fan of Christo's (please don't hate me....you probably all love Christo's) but I would rather eat at Christo's over Aiello's. I want this place to succeed. I live in Central Phoenix and we need more restaurants. I think Mr. Aiello does not respect us because if he did, he would do a better job training his staff and he would treat his customers as "guests". I may be from NY but I've lived here long enough to expect to be treated with grace and care. And buy better ingredients. If the tomatoes are not good, don't serve them! Now you'll all probably write about how much you love the place. I'll give them a few more weeks to tighten up service and food and go back.
A lot of "you ... all" in this post, which assumes a level of unanimity that doesn't exist on this board. Witness the ongoing threads about overrated and underrated restaurants in Phoenix. I see a huge variety of opinions on this board, and thankfully the dialog is respectful even when the disagreements are substantial. Dissenting opinions from any apparent board consensus are welcome. I have plenty of them. Please continue to post; I'd enjoy hearing not only about what you dislike, but even more about what you like.
As for Aiello's, I think we ate at two different places with the same name, but that's the way things go some times. I had never met Joe Aiello and his wife Myrah before our recent visit, but they made me feel like a valued guest. Our server was a little uneducated about the menu, but it was a minor issue in the scheme of things. As for the soiled chef coat -- that tells me he's actually a working chef/owner and not someone who just puts on chef gear for show.
By the way, I've never been to Christo's, so I have no basis of comparison with that restaurant.
I certainly meant no disrespect so please excuse me if I intimated that everyone likes certain restaurants. Me? I'm very picky but I like crap as well as good food. I just like what I like. As for a chef coming out of the kitchen with a dirty jacket-that's a no-no. You always have a clean one to put on before yuo go out into the dining room. It shows respect for your guests. The schmoozing part is great-everyone loves to meet the chef. And the chef loves to meet the diners and receive praise. It's a win/win. But do it with a clean jacket! I don't serve my guests with a soiled apron at home.
I live in the central corridor so most of my experience with restaurants has been around Phoenix. I rarely venture to the east valley and only occasionally go to Scottsdale. I've lived here for 30+ years so I've seen lots of changes on the dining scene. I eat out two to three times a week for dinner. Lunches are usually "business".
I'm going to wait a few weeks and go back to Aiello's (the one on Central Avenue). My first two experiences were not happy ones but I'll give them time to iron out the kinks before I go back again.
So, what do I like? My own kitchen! Right now I like Hana on 7th Avenue. I like the staff. I like the food. I like China Chili. I like the staff. I like the food. I like Yasu Sushi Bistro. I like Rancho Pinot Grill. I like the staff. I like the food. Now , I know...That's Scottsdale but oh so close to Paradise Valley which is oh so close to Phoenix! What else? I usually like Phoenix City Grille but I'm sort of tired of the menu right now. I like the chicken wings (fried, ofcourse) at Lo Lo's Chicken and Waffles (but I don't like the waffles because I like crisp waffles). I like PIzzeria Bianco and Pane Bianco. But I also like NYPD for pizza but nothing else. Different pizzas-cannot compare but I like them both.
I like the fries at Trent Cinq. Hmmm. I guess I don't like very many restaurants! I like dishes at restaurants but not necessarily "the restaurant". I'm a creature of habit and when I find a dish I like, that's usually what I order.