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Mar 30, 2009 09:40 AM

Lunetta - telling it like it is

My dining partner had been meaning to get to Lunetta for a while now, so we decided to take advantage of DineIn Brooklyn and check things out. I ordered off the fixed price menu but my partner didn't see anything that piqued his interest and ordered off the regular menu. In a nutshell: the food was good, but expensive for what was served (esp off the regular menu) but really the nail in the coffin was the service. With so many other strong Brooklyn restaurants, we won't be returning to Lunetta.

The Food:

DineIn Brooklyn Menu:
Arancini or Chopped Salad
Trophie(sic) w lamb meatballs or lasagna bianco w mushroom and spinach
canoli or gelato

I ordered:

Aracini - three golf ball sized fried risotto balls served freshly fried and piping hot. Crispy on the outside cheesy in the middle, this italian street food was a tasty starter. The very simple tomato sauce they rested in was very good, tasting mostly of tomatoes but had a subtle complexity in the background that made this sauce homestyle yet not something just anyone could duplicate in the kitchen.

Trophie (sic) w lamb meatballs - the fresh pasta was really good as was the touch of cream the pasta was tossed in. Small lamb meatballs were good, the lamb really came through, but nothing amazing. Would have liked the portion to be slightly larger, definitely an 'appetizer' sized serving.

Gelato - Three golf ball sized scoops (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry) by Il Laboratorio Del Gelato were presented without any description from the server. Funny, because in the low light my partner guessed chocolate, coffee, and vanilla, where I thought chocolate, caramel and vanilla. The chocolate was excellent, the vanilla totally forgettable, and the strawberry alright, but more like ice cream than gelato.

My dining partner ordered:

ginger ginny ($11) - small but strong concoction of fresh lime, mint, ginger syrup, and gin. A fresh tasting cousin of the mojito.

salumi plate ($14) - came with 4 tissue paper thin slices each of house made soppresatta, finocchiona, pancetta (extreeeeeemly fatty, I thought it was lardo) and one other cured meat. In the center there was a dish with a spoonful of cranberries that I think might have been pickled bread & butter style (with mustardseeds) that was really interesting as well as a small 3"x4" inch tasty cracker that tasted strongly of sesame. We felt $14 was frankly a rip off for the amount of food on the plate, though I just noticed looking at the online menu this was also supposed to 'come with bread & spread' which it did not for us. Maybe the cranberries were the spread? It is a mystery, since our server also did not tell us what was on the plate - I looked up the salumi types from the online menu.

linguini w littleneck clams & escarole ($19) - this dish had very nice flavor and complex brothy sauce that was scooped up alone after all the pasta was gone, but was light on clams. For $19 you are better off going to al di la for the $17 vongole to get the same effect, slightly larger portion, and 2$ leftover to contribute to a lovely dessert.

The Service:

Let's not mince words here. Service was terrible for an establishment of this pricepoint. It was over an hour into our meal before our main courses were delivered - note that the restaurant was not even half full. When the plates finally came, we were left high and dry without silverware, and had to flag down server 5 mins later to get utensils. It was very difficult to get the attention of any of the servers throughout our meal - most likely because they were all huddled in the back by the kitchen eating something (arancini?) with their fingers off of a plate in full view of the house. I am not a quick drinker, but I managed to finish my glass of water and watched it sit completely empty (while my partner drained his) before 10 mins later we finally got the attention of a server and requested more water.

ps, dear lunetta, (if you reeeeeally want me to nitpick) please try to get the correct spelling of a dish you are featuring - it's trofie (not trophie). I get you are keeping things casual, a neighborhood place type vibe maybe, but you can be casual and still provide attentive service. How you opened a second restaurant I will never know.

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  1. Their service has always been poor... even on the best of nights. I don't get it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: bhill

      WHAT??I poor service? i am a regular there, and NEVER ONCE had poor service. Be mor specific by how you define poor service? Are the wait staff inattentive? or does the food takes some time to come out? Yes, the food does take some time to come. But that's because every dish is cooked to order by the chef. It is a tiny kitchen with one chef and one sous chef. If you order a pasta they will actually make it fresh for you, and cook the ingredients on the spot. Perhaps it is a slower dining experience but the taste one gets in 110% worth it. As far as the size of the portions. It is a small plate restaurant. Yes you're not going to get ridiculously huge portions that you will get at a red sauce joint, however the attention and complex tastes of the dishes that you do get are unforgettable. AND you get to try a few dishes without feeling too full. Having been to Italy a dozen times, i can say that tastes and portion sizes definitely compare to some great restaurants there. I love Lunetta, and it will continue to be my special neighborhood place. I recommend giving it another try.

      1. re: brooklynsavory

        As these posts were 9 months ago, perhaps service has changed. Are your experiences more recent, or coincide with the same time period as these reviewers?

        1. re: chow_gal

          We went months ago as well and had a similar experience/opinion. The prices were high for the portions served, location, etc. The service was slow and bad and some food on a night they weren't even particularly busy came out warm at best. It was a bad enough experience with other nice options around to not return.

        2. re: brooklynsavory

          I think I detailed quite specifically the poor service that was experienced above. Hopefully 9 months later they've gotten their act together. We most likely will not be back to give them another shot - the price vs portions plus service plus the fact that Brooklyn is so lucky to have so many amazing restaurants is enough to keep us away.

          1. re: brooklynsavory

            For what it's worth, I've also had appallingly bad service at Lunetta every time I've been there. It ranges from indifferent to annoying. I like their food, so if I'm in the right mood, I'll overlook it, but man oh man could they use some front of house help.

            1. re: brooklynsavory

              BK Savory - unless you're an extremely attractive woman or a famous celebrity or combination of the two, I can't see how you've always had good service there. I was treated like a vagrant the last time i went (went completely unnoticed for about 5 minutes, was told that my reservation was lost, was given snarky "holier than thou" attitudes by hostess and all waitstaff, was stuck in a shitty table by the door even though there were other tables available, was denied said tables when asked to move, waited about 20 minutes for a piece of crostini, another 60 for a measly plate of 3 ho-hum meatballs that were no larger than a ping pong ball, and another 20-30 for a scoop of gelato. had the privilege of paying $30 or so for this crap too.

              i've only heard similar horror stories and will always recommend other restaurants in the area over this shithole. i hope they go out of business.

              1. re: the_state

                You have a tolerance for pain far higher than mine. I would have walked out of there long before those meatballs arrived. I don't need to do that type of thing very often but when I'm on the receiving end of treatment like that I never hesitate.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  That meatball dish is a joke. I went in on a rec from someone - she went on and on about the meatballs. What a disappointment! And not a cheap one at that.

          2. I love negative reviews! Thanks!

            1. I like Lunetta. Their orecchiette with sausage & broccoli rabe is very good. The waitstaff is a tiny bit harried, but nothing unforgivable has happened there, and they have a charming garden.

              1. I've had a lot of bad things to say lately about neighborhood dining, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to give a pleasantly surprised vote of reasonable approval to Lunetta. Stopped in last night after work, no issues whatsoever with the service -- attention was prompt, and servers were friendly.

                Had a spaghetti carbonara made with some really quite tasty pancetta, just the right amount of cheese, and no cream (which of course doesn't belong but sometimes finds it way into carbonara). Good peppery kick, too. The portion was huge -- old school Italian-American red sauce joint size portion rather than locavore Smith Streety type portion -- which pleases me b/c I can never have too much pasta. Washed it all down with an enjoyable Montepulciano.

                The pasta was $15, the glasses of wine $9 each -- so, not dirt cheap, but not expensive either.

                I was too stuffed to try other things, but will definitely add it to my list of places to stop in and have a quick bite when I get off the F too late or too tired to cook.