Fino Tapas in Bayside
Fino opened on November 14 on Bell Boulevard. I was excited because, yes, there are nice places to eat on Bell but this was something different and the actual venue looked really nice and loungy. I went there on their second day. What a let down. We sat at a great bar type table near the window and perused the menu. The hostess came over and talked a little about the menu. We later came to realize she should probably be in charge. She was the only one with any sense.Cocktails were first. After we put in our order for some "signature" drinks, our server came back to our table to inform us that they were missing ingredients for one of the drinks my friend ordered. She was disappointed but picked another "signature". A surly guy from the bar came by about 10 minutes later and said our server should have told us they didn't have that either or the drink my other friend ordered. We asked him a question about one of the drinks, he walked away and never came back. About 10, 15 minutes later, the server came back and let us know 4 drinks were available including one of the ones they said they didn't have. It was raining and we liked our table so we cut them some slack and stayed. My blood orange mimosa was pretty good. Turns out the missing ingredient for the drink my friend wanted was champagne. Guess they never heard of a liquor store. We eventually ordered a meat and cheese plate that was truly disappointing and pricey. There were three of us and they gave us 4 pieces of bread. The cheeses were parmaggiano, gorgonzola and a brie type cheese the server couldn't name and never came back to tell us what it was. The meats were nice and more in keeping with the tapas theme. How is there not a Spanish cheese on the plate?!?! I get a less international but more enjoyable meat and cheese plate up the block from Press 195 for only 9 bucks! Despite the waiting and the missing ingredients, I think the lack of acknowledgement that they were slacking was the worse part. I didn't expect a free entree but a comped drink, an apology, a couple of things to taste, etc. would have been the right thing to do. The customer service was horrible. Believe it or not, I would like to go back to this place so I'm hoping these are all kinks that need to be worked out and that there'll eventually be some more favorable reviews posted here. Keep me posted...
Updating this post to report that Fino is consistently excellent and continues to serve some perfect food. The early spring 2010 menu leans more Italian than Spanish at the moment...tonight a special of squash blossoms stuffed with rocitta on a fresh, very lemony pesto was outstanding. Sweet corn soup with big chunks of lobster--delicious. The fresh pea risotto with crispy proscuitto was very good. Two menu items are fairly simple: grilled lamb chops over hummus; spaghetti with manila clams and pancetta. But the absolutely consistent perfection of the execution of these dishes is seriously not something you find very often anywhere in the city--the chops are juicy, rare, perfect; the spaghetti a perfect al dente, the clams beautifully fresh, the balance of just enough pancetta, olive oil and bread crumbs strike that restrained, simple balance that is what Italian cuisine is all about. And this chef doesn't just do Italian food, he excels whether the homage is toward Spain or France as well. The wines are excellent and well-priced, too. We are lucky to have this place in Bayside.
We just went this past Saturday night. We had a wonderful time. The waiter (Peter) was excellent. He recommended a bottle of wine which we enjoyed more than the one we ordered on our own. There were 4 of us. We had about 10 different tapas platters, none of which were disappointing. We even ordered seconds on a couple. You should try it again. I think you will be much happier now.
We have been to Fino twice recently and will return (we live in Bayside). We had excellent service both times, and the hostess/owner chatted with us both times--they seem very eager to listen to their customers and adapt. The decor is gorgeous, and the glass wine area in the back looks very sleek and stylish.
Wine: My impression is that the selections are very well chosen and some excellent values are available. We are big fans of Spanish and Argentine wines, which represent most of the by-the-glass selections. We liked all the wines we tried. The bottle list includes many wines I am familiar with and I think they are great choices. Prices are fair, typical markup, and as I stated some of the less expensive ones are really good values, better than most wines you will find in that price range. I wish they had more sherries and after-dinner drink choices.
We looked at their wine tasting menus, they have been running a series of 5-course tasting menus with wine pairings for $60, each night featuring a different country. They look like fun, we might try one at some point. The price is good if you get some pricey wines in the deal.
Food: not classic Spanish tapas, but riffs on the style as well as some classic dishes. On the whole the food is quite good, better than most places in Bayside, at least...at times just a bit more acid or salt would really perfect a dish. There have been no clunkers, but chicken croquettes, for instance, were just very underseasoned. I wanted a queeze of lemon on otherwise fantastic fried baby artichokes; on the second visit they were seasoned better. The ultra-crispy fried sweetbreads are a real winner. Mussels with chorizo were also great, and the paella was nicely done with lots of seafood. Plates are $7-12 (paella is $18 and bigger), and two hungry people will probably want about 5 plates.
I would definitely suggest you give them another shot....My hubby and I have been there 3 times since Dec 27 and all I can say is each time I love this place more & more.
We went to a wine tasting last night and let me tell you it was awesome!! Good food and great wine...and plenty of wine at that.
The owner Frank is so very personable and Peter the waiter is wonderful and he knows his wine...they are really trying to make this work
We are going back for the Italian Wine Tasting at the end of the month...
Well, if I read this review first, I probably wouldn't have eaten here. That said, I'm glad I didn't read this review first. I guess I'll chalk the bad service up to it being a new restaurant. The place has a great feel to it without a doubt, and the wine room in the rear is pretty cool. I instantly forgot I was a few blocks from home and not in Manhatten.
Our meal was good. I really can't complain except the server couldn't name what was on our meat & cheese plate. My favorite was the sauces that everything came with & the bread. That alone filled me up! LOL...
Anyway, I like the place & plan on bringing some people there on a weekend. It was steady business, and our waitress was good. And when she was busy, either the bartender or hostess seemed to be right there. I guess they learned, because we were taken care of.
One last thing, I guess that table up front would be my 1 downside, because in hindsight, the waitress didn't come over as often as we needed, and the bartender had to take care of us.