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Jan 23, 2009 08:58 AM

Bartolotta Blues

I dined at Bartolotta on New Year’s Day with three other people. I was really excited to eat here after hearing great things about it. We had reservations and there was a short wait before we were seated but the hostess was very cordial and I didn’t mind the wait at all. So far, so good.

From there, everything more or less went downhill. The one drink at the bar was probably the highlight of the dinner (if I absolutely had to pick a highlight). From the moment we sat at our table, we were pretty much invisible. It took a long time for anyone to even come over and acknowledge we had just been seated for dinner. Finally our server, Flavio, greeted us. I chose not to get a drink at the bar and not once did he ask if I wanted a drink. He was so rushed in his delivery that I didn’t even have a chance to order a drink. From the time we were seated, I’d say it took 25-30 minutes before he even came out with the fresh fish options and explained the menu, how to order the fish, etc.

We all were craving a heavy dose of carbs so we chose to not order any fish and get a lot of pastas (with the exception of the hen). Between the four of us, here’s what we ate:

-Cocotte di parmigiano-reggiano (warm parmigianno-reggiano custard, wild mushrooms)
-Insalata di carciofi, porcini, ruchetta e pecorino sardo (sauteed artichokes and porcini mushrooms, wilted arugula, Sardinian pecorino)
-Lasagnette con ragu di crostacei (rags of pasta, lobster, shrimp, langoustines, crab, white wine, tomato)
-Spaghetti all’astice (spaghetti with rock lobster, spicy tomato sauce, white wine)
-Gnocchi di patate con fonduta di pomodoro (potato gnocchi in a creamy tomato sauce, butter, parmigiano-reggiano)
-Maccheroni alla chitarra al ragu Toscano (hand-rolled thick spaghetti with Tuscan meat sauce)
-Risotto ai frutti di mare (risotto with clams, scallops, shrimp, langoustines, calamari)…ordered off the tasting menu
-Faraona alla Riviera Ligure (Ligurian style roast guinea hen, artichokes, asparagus, porcini, taggiasca olives, lemon-herb sauce)

Not only did the food take a long time to actually get, it was only lukewarm as if it had been sitting out for awhile. On top of that, I watched every other table get offered fresh parmesan while no one approached our table. They also messed up our order and we were short one gnocchi (we ordered 2). I completely understand how our order might have been confusing since 3 people ordered 2 pastas and one of us changed their pasta at the last minute, however the server could have easily confirmed the order with us. I’m sure they’ve gotten parties much larger than 4 that have ordered multiple pastas.

When we were finished eating, again it took an insane amount of time for them to clear off our plates…another lengthy wait until the server came back with the dessert menus (which by the way, our server suddenly stopped coming to our table and someone else took his place). I can’t stress how terrible the service was and how rude our server was. I think each of us only had one drink—they never asked to get any of us another one nor were they around much for the opportunity to do so. I really felt like our table was being singled out as I watched our server attend to other tables, offer fresh parm, pepper, the works. I just had the impression that we didn’t “make the grade” for a reason I cannot fathom. The four of us are on the younger side and probably look even younger than our ages however that shouldn’t equate to poor service. I was almost wondering if he thought we couldn’t afford the bill. The kicker is, we ended up only tipping 10% so at the end of the day, we probably just confirmed in his mind that we were punks who shouldn’t have been eating there. I don’t think I have ever tipped below 15% and 20% is almost always standard but I felt that strongly about how awful our experience was. I have also never contacted a restaurant before but I am seriously contemplating it—it’s 3 weeks later and this dinner still gets me worked up.

I’ll mention the food only briefly. It certainly wasn’t bad by any means but I can think of much better Italian restaurants both in Vegas and home (Chicago). I thought the gnocchi was probably the best of the pastas ordered and everything else was just average. I love ragu’s and was very disappointed in this one. Maybe I would have felt differently if the food was hot. I can’t comment on the fish since we didn’t order it. Eating out and having just okay food doesn’t get me fired up but eating at a nice establishment with the absolute worst service makes me ill and is unforgivable. I’d rate the service better at Maggiano’s by a landslide based on my experience.

I really hope this was a fluke and Flavio was just having an off night but I certainly would never recommend this place or give another penny to this restaurant. I take back what I said earlier—the highlight for me was leaving the restaurant.

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  1. Isn't going to Bartolotta and not getting any fish dishes akin to going to a steakhouse and ordering the chicken?

    3 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      I thought my post was fairly clear that my experience had little to do with the food and more to do with the terrible service. Not getting fish is besides the point and yes, I do realize they are known for their fresh noted in my review we made the conscious decision to not order fish as no one was in the mood. I don't think the service would have been any different had we ordered fish.

      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        If taken solely (no pun intended) by the name, that may be true. I have never eaten @ Bartolotta so I can't comment on the food. But Bartolotta has a huge following on CH and people talk ALL THE TIME about the quality of the pasta and how it isn't just about fish. And as LudBag said, it really wasn't about the quality of food (although from the sounds of it the pastas were not impressive).

        However, the reason I may dismiss this as a one off is more about the time. New Years in LV is a debacle. My guess (purely a guess being that I was there once for New Years and I have a very close friend that lives there) is that the restaurants are not on their A game during New Years. Consider most places have about a 98% occupancy during New Years (yes, this year was worse but still the 5* caliber places were still packed). Locals tend to avoid the strip like the plague on New Years. Restaurants are packed and mostly looking forward to the next convention or weekend.

        It's just my $.02 but given the amount of positive feed back Bartolotta gets you may want to give it another try.

        1. re: LVI

          Thanks for the feedback. I can definitely appreciate that. Luckily, our meal the night before Bartolotta, on New Year's Eve, at Craftsteak was phenomenal (I love their short ribs) and we didn't suffer because of the crowds.