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Feb 11, 2008 09:44 AM

Lunetta - What Happened?

I was such a fan of Lunetta, I mean one of my favorites in the neighborhood, but my past two visits the place has been downright bad. Someone told me the chef is focused on the flatiron restaurant, but when did the quality take a plunge. On Saturday night, we waited 15 minutes before we had to beg someone to take a drink order. Our main courses were way late coming out, one of the servers (who was very nice) brought us a round of drinks on the house, but another server stomped around with a frown asking one table "if they had a problem". Worst of all the food was uneven at best. The new lemon chicken dish that was awful, the risotto ball was pretty good, but the pork was dry. Has anyone else noticed this place is going downhill quickly or is it just me? Such a shame…

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  1. I have been a huge fan of Adam Shephard since the first week Taku opened (which I miss to this day). But even I have to admit that you are correct, it's not as good as it was when it opened. It's not *bad*, but just very inconsistent at the moment. The last few times we went there, some things were very tasty, some were boring. I did have one 'recent memory' excellent meal at the chef's counter, maybe 6 months ago but since then its been unreliable. The last visit, the meatballs which I used to adore (and preferred to Frankies), were not so good..they suddenly had raisins in them and less taste of cheese than I remembered. The mussels were still good though. Had some really uninspired, limp brussel sprouts though.

    I hope Shephard starts seeing some posts like this, actually, and starts putting more attention back into his brooklyn place.

    Honestly, I've noticed a lack of consistency in a lot of favored CH/CG places lately.....the meal I posted about at Downtown Brooklyn, Po, Zaytoons (had a very bad delivery from them not long ago), Chestnut. I think we need some new places to open and raise the bar / shake things up a bit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Nehna

      Interesting that Po, Zaytoon and Lunetta all have 2 locations now (though Po was in Manhattan first). But maybe that has something to do with it.

      1. re: Nehna

        Last minute decision, Ginny and I went at 7:30 or so tonite and sat at the bar. It was about half full when we got there but totally full when we left. Two servers covering the entire room and the bar. They did a reasonably good job but there needed to be 1-2 more to do it right. At any rate, the food was much as Nehna describes... nothing bad but not anything to recommend it either. Good quality ingredients are still evident and the kitchen is obviously competent, but the food didnt really have anything going for it other than that. The folks next to us at the bar were very unhappy with their food (I'm not sure why) and, after sending it back and getting a replacement, the bartender/waitress asked "any better"? and the response was a curt "no". She tried but, whatever they were pissed at clearly wasnt going to go away with a smile. For the price, the place is adequate but we wont be rushing back either.

      2. I am mystified by Mike's review of this wonderful restaurant. My husband and I are weekly frequenters of the kitchen bar at Lunetta. Part of the fun for us there is sitting and watching the chefs work in the kitchen. The other part is their consistently wonderful food. Quite honestly, we have never had a bad experience there and if anything, the food has improved over the last year. David (the newish chef), who took Adam Shephard's place, has in fact raised the quality of the food to a new level: a heightened complexity of flavors that are (as former Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl would put it) "deeply satisfying." Try the gnocchi with walnuts, swiss chard and gorgonzola; the pappardelle with a rich pork sauce; the spaghetti carbonara with browned pork bits; the fabulous pork belly; any of the bruschettas, etc. You'll see what I mean.

        We used to go there on the weekends, but don't anymore because they're crazy busy. Maybe they need to hire more servers for the weekend, and yes, there is one cranky server there, but only one. But have you noticed that the crowds on the weekends have tripled over the last year? (Because the food has improved, not gone downhill!) Also, have you taken a look at the kitchen? It's the size of a small apartment kitchen. I'm amazed at the friendly coordination and the collaboration of four people working together in that tiny space. No one ever loses their temper! If anything, Lunetta needs a larger kitchen. Cut them some slack. Try going during the week if you can and you'll change your mind about it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: KatherineLarry

          I have my favorites that not everybody agrees on as well. However, as my above post states, I have to agree with Mike (& Nehna) that the food is NOT as good as it was, at least in my last 2 experiences there. By the way, although the carbonara was never "traditional", I did like it. The one I had this past visit must've had twice the lemon as usual and it overpowered the dish. The shaved brussel sprouts w/shaved (excellent) parmigiana was similarly overpowered by the cheese, with little brussel sprout taste. Of course, I used it as an addition to my cheese plate, but this is the lack of attention to detail that seems to have become more commonplace there. Sorry, but too many of us CH neighborhood folks are feeling it and it's too bad. They should reduce the # of patrons if they cant handle things on weekends... I review based on the food served and, if they're open and charging me full price, I expect them to produce. After all, they wouldnt accept it if I told them that I had gone out to eat too often during the week and didnt have the cash to pay full price on the weekend, would they?

        2. P.S. I forgot to mention the meatballs! Sublime, all meat (no breading), and the sauce is to die for.

          4 Replies
          1. re: KatherineLarry

            Interesting exchange, I think Steve quantified the problem better than I could; Lunetta is just slipping in quality. I can't give place a pass because they get busy, good service and good food are part of the experience whether or not the place is busy (better if it is - servers make more money). The meatballs, for example, used to be great, now they are bland (Katherine, have you compared the meatballs they previously served and the ones they serve now?). I have to agree with Steve on the sprouts as well, just mushy, lost their flavor. Lunetta used to get all the details right, but now it has slipped into mediocrity. My post wasn't intended to bash Lunetta, just more of commiserate over the loss of a once really good place which now seems content with just being okay...

            1. re: KatherineLarry

              The meatballs are not at all like they used to be...the addition of raisins, as I noted above, was new and unappealing to me in an italian restaurant. And I used to insist to people that they were better than Frankies.

              Sorry Katherine, I really want to be supportive of the place...and as I said, I hope Adam frequents sites like these and listens. We went again a few nights ago for a couple was okay, again, nothing like it used to be.

              I so badly want the place to get back to its old standard.

              1. re: Nehna

                the meatballs have always had raisins in them.

                1. re: humdaddy

                  sorry i have to disagree, I've had them at least 4 or 5 times and that was the first they've had raisins in them.

            2. As a long time fan of Taku and then Lunetta, I was very disappointed to walk in with some out of town friends on President's Day Sunday at least a half hour before their closing time and be told their kitchen was closed for the night. Went to Robin des Bois instead and had a great meal (with the usual awesome service) but was really looking forward to some italian.

              On a holiday weekend, I expect better from one of the supposed destination restaurants on the strip...

              1. I agree the restaurant needs more servers on busy nights, but I'm surprised to hear the negative-ish comments on the food. I've been here a handful of times and have left completely satisfied every time. I think the flavors and seasonings are spot on and there is a little something on the menu for everyone. I've sat at the kitchen bar and watched the kitchen workers go, and it's amazing that three people can put out that amount of food and that large of a menu in such a small space. I think it speaks volumes of the place.
                However, when I have sat at a table, I have gotten less than hot food. But I think that has more to do with the lack of servers than the kitchen. As far as the taste of the food goes, again, i think it's stellar. So maybe the mixed reviews here are subjective, or someone experienced the waitstaff on an understaffed night.