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Terroni.. not up to snuff

t
to_frankie Apr 27, 2009 12:37 PM

Greetings hounds, thought I'd report on a perplexing and somewhat disappointing dinner we had at Terroni (Yonge and St. Clair location) the other night and get other hound’s opinions.

Last night the SO and I had tickets to the Bigger is Better comedy show at the Panasonic Theatre so we thought it'd be nice to have a casual dinner before the show.

We decided on Terroni and we were quite disappointed with the food and the service. Now I'm not apt to complain about restaurants for the most part and I know exactly what Terroni is; over priced decent pizza and pasta geared to Midtown yuppies, (which much to my poor Colombian mother's dismay I have become!!) but, last night's experience will be the last time I voluntarily go to Terroni.. Here are the details

Arrive @ 5:15PM (show starts at 7PM meeting friends at 6:45PM).
Get seated quickly (good start). But, it takes 15 minutes after that for waiter to show up & ask about drinks. Order drinks and inform him that we need to leave by 6:30. He nods.

Drinks and Bread come 5 minutes after. No oil. We have to search down staff to inquire about oil. It then arrives.

Waiter comes back to take order, it's now 5:45. We order our apps and for a main my wife goes to order the seafood pasta and asks for parmegian on the side. Now having been partially raised in Sicily, my wife knows that seafood pasta and cheese don’t mix. But, hey it’s what she likes and at no restaurant we have dined has this request been denied. Until now..

The waiter states quite firmly that "No can’t do that". We're surprised so I ask him to elaborate and he says "I can not bring you cheese on the side and if I do I will be fired. In fact I have to collect all the cheese from your appetizers before bringing you the main". I tell him that's the single weirdest and dumbest thing I have ever heard at a restaurant.

My wife is now faced with ordering another dish or eating her pasta without the cheese and thus, the waiter says he'll be back in 2 minutes.

At this point, I'm ready to cut our losses and leave but, my wife is starved (breastfeeding has made her super hungry at times) and we have little time to go somewhere else. Upon the waiter's return she does order the seafood pasta (sans cheese) and I order a white pizza. It is now 5:55.

We get engrossed in a conversation before looking at my watch and noticing its 6:20 and we haven't been served. I spend 5 more minutes trying to flag down my waiter, when I finally just get up and go to him to inquire. He says it should only be 2 more minutes; which it was. The mains arrived at 6:27. We had to go by 6:30.

My wife quickly eats the pasta which she says was fine (but not to her liking without cheese) and I do likewise with my pizza which was also adequate. I get bill, pay cash because we would lose too much time waiting to go through the whole credit card process, and leave. It was 6:45 when we left and we were quite late for our meet up.

The whole experience left a bad taste in our mouth and upon reflection I wonder if Terroni's is heralded as the best pizza in the city in because it’s trendy and at the higher price range. The food is just ok and if it really is the best pizza in the T. then we're in some trouble.

I also believe what they charge for their dishes is not in line with their staffing expenses and use of ingredients. My pizza cost $17 and had such minimal amount of toppings that it was almost humorous. That combined with the utter refusal to meet a customers simple request is what will ensure we wont be visiting Terroni anytime soon.

thoughts?

  1. k
    kenzaburo Apr 28, 2009 12:41 PM

    At dinner this weekend with friends (La Forchetta on College - pretty good spot, probably wouldn't go out of my way to go there, but reasonably priced and solid quality) and the topic of Terroni's draconian rules came up. I defended them because, personally, I've never had a bad experience - but i'm very easy going, never have asked for a substitution, and don't mind long meals - but I'm starting to come around. I really enjoy their food (I don't personally think of Terroni as "trendy" or overpriced, rather I think the price per quality is pretty good) and appreciate their respect for ingredients. To me, it is what it is - a casual spot for a reliable meal at a decent price. But I find it objectionable that patrons are (apparently) treated so rudely (as my friends claim they were, and the OP claims he was.)

    On one hand, I'll take Terroni's heavy handed approach to authenticity (call it respect for food, or hard-headed pretension, depending upon your perspective) over the alternative (soulless chain restaurants) any day - but it's unfortunate that the former has to (evidently) come with a distasteful price.

    Edited to add: Just notice the $17 price tag for the OP's pizza... and yes, that is a little out line for a pizza at a casual restaurant. I may have to rethink my opinion on my Price-per-quality evaluation of Terroni.

    1. p
      paprkutr Apr 27, 2009 08:35 PM

      I live in Los Angeles, and just went to Terroni's for the first time. I had heard about it and it's policies, but we decided to try it. We were not disappointed, we did not like it and unless you like everything prepared the way they make it you are not going to be happy. Didn't realzie you couldn't get balsamic on the side. I should have listened to everyone and not gone.

      1. Full tummy Apr 27, 2009 07:55 PM

        Well, golly, it makes you feel like pulling out a little ziploc bag and filling it with parmesan from the appetizers then, once your seafood pasta is on the table, pulling out the bag and, in clear view of the waiter, pouring it on top... Better yet, bring your own parmesan.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Full tummy
          t
          tjr Apr 27, 2009 08:07 PM

          I remember seeing something recently about a woman bringing Coke into a pizzeria (?) in the States, where the owner didn't accept or sell any HFCS beverages (kind of like Terroni with diet beverages), and when she got caught sneaking them in, the owner kicked her out.

        2. t
          ttran88 Apr 27, 2009 02:59 PM

          we all can agree to disagree. this is , of course, chowhound. whether it is "authentic" italian or not, its based on preferred opinion. i agree with to_frankie because i, personally, expect a certain amount of service and flexability with my dining experience. i am the payer... i should have a say in my meal. thats why terroni may not be my first choice or any place that is "stead fast" like that. however i would not critizise their decision to do so or over all taste. thanks to_frankie for your post....

          1. e
            embee Apr 27, 2009 02:02 PM

            Geez. There is nothing "authentic" about Terroni. It is simply about how the owners choose to do business - no more and no less. They have gotten away with it. Good for them. I have eaten their mediocre, overpriced pizzas several times. It was never worth it. YMMV.

            Yes, the poor server would probably have been disciplined for giving you cheese with seafood. True, this is not common in Italy, but both my reading and my Italian friends tell me this is not inviolate. However, the service you got overall was inexcusable. I hardly ever say this, but I sure hope you didn't tip.

            I have heard that their new trat at the old Victoria St location seems to have a different idea about "authenticity". If you have been there and experienced this one way or the other, please comment.

            7 Replies
            1. re: embee
              r
              robb Apr 27, 2009 02:09 PM

              Haven't been to Terroni for 2 years after being a monthly visitor. Had a problem that could not have been solved in a worse manner by 2 levels of Management and ultimately the owner Vince. I do miss the food but certainly not the "authentic attitude". Based on CH and the National Post article, have had amny great pizzas at Pizzeria Trio on Yonge N of Lawrence. Thin, wood-burning fireplace crust, generous toppings and the most plesant, accomodating service you can imagine. Vince and the Terroni staff could learn a lot fromTrio about good ole' "Authentic, hospitable attitude".

              1. re: robb
                s
                Snarf Apr 27, 2009 02:50 PM

                I was at Trio the other night, and noticed a bunch of children who were curious about the oven were then invited to sit at the bar and given some dough and a quick lesson on playing with the dough and making pizzas. They were clearly enthralled. I can't think of many places that would do this.

                1. re: Snarf
                  r
                  robb Apr 27, 2009 02:55 PM

                  I agree-staff including the owner could not be nicer and more accomodating. Throw in great pizza, decent wine list, fair prices, excellent calamari and carpaccio and the palce is a winner.

                  1. re: robb
                    TorontoJo Apr 27, 2009 04:26 PM

                    Shhhh, dammit. My weeknight neighbourhood joint is getting crowded enough as it is...

                    But seriously, if you like the owners (and they are really, really nice), you should also support their other restaurant, Sapori. It's just two doors to the north of Trio. It's more upscale with a higher price point to match. I don't eat veal, but the massive veal chop there is really impressive and all my friends who've had it there have oohed and ahhed sufficiently over it. I always get the oven-roasted whole fish there, which is always beautifully tender and moist. Usually served with some fairly non-descript veggies, but I always ask for a side of pasta aglio e olio instead. This is the place with the massive amarone wine list that I've mentioned before on this board.

                    1. re: TorontoJo
                      s
                      Snarf Apr 27, 2009 05:57 PM

                      You're right. I should have mentioned that the food sucked. Everyone who does not live in the area, please pay attention. You will not be welcomed. And don't be fooled by the seductive aromas and smiling people. It's a local thing.

                      1. re: Snarf
                        Full tummy Apr 27, 2009 07:53 PM

                        Snarf, some readers may not get this post; to translate, the food was amazing, but Snarf wants it all to himself....

                        1. re: Full tummy
                          s
                          Snarf Apr 27, 2009 08:03 PM

                          I give more credit to the sarcasm detectors here. In this economy, I would never discourage restaurants when my budget is decreasing as well. But yes, all are welcome, and seem to be treated the same, whether regular or not.

            2. r
              radiopolitic Apr 27, 2009 02:02 PM

              I'll agree that the wait was long but giving yourself 1hr and 15min for a dinner isn't, imho, good time management on your part. I would have given myself 2 hours at least.

              3 Replies
              1. re: radiopolitic
                t
                to_frankie Apr 28, 2009 12:17 PM

                interesting. never really considered that. I guess with the table turnaround at most restaurants being what it is , in addition to it being a Sunday night @ 5Pm we thought 1hr and15mnts for a pizza and some pasta would be enough..

                maybe you have a point. perhaps to compensate for service inconsistencies one does need 2hrs..

                1. re: to_frankie
                  t
                  torontofoodiegirl Apr 28, 2009 12:31 PM

                  I agree that 1 hr and 15 mins is pushing it timewise; however, if it was going to be too little time, the server really should have told you when you mentioned that you were in a rush.

                  I think that their rigid rules are kind of ridiculous, but they don't seem to have any trouble keeping busy in spite of them. I, for one, continue to go there because I love the food. Sounds like you picked one of the less stellar pizzas, unfortunately -- they're not all like that (in particular, I LOVE the Smendozzata...so good...).

                2. re: radiopolitic
                  Full tummy Apr 28, 2009 01:02 PM

                  No doubt that 1:15 isn't much time for a relaxed dinner, but the OP told the server they needed to be out by 6:30 p.m. Surely you can't fault the OP for the tardiness of the service. If it couldn't have been done in that timeframe, then the server should have stated that at the outset.

                3. sleepy Apr 27, 2009 01:03 PM

                  im still surprised people come on here so frequently and complain about how their dinner experience was ruined because terroni would not allow substitutions. isn't this common knowledge by now with all the chowhound posts about it? and i think it even says on their menu no subs.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sleepy
                    c
                    callitasicit Apr 27, 2009 01:22 PM

                    Imho, Terroni's is overrated.

                  2. j
                    JennaBean Apr 27, 2009 01:02 PM

                    Frankie - This is standard for Terroni's. My Italian friends and I have decided to give our business to other places for this very reason.

                    If you have the chance, I suggest you try Libretto. Better pizza. Better service. Better overall experience IMO.

                    http://www.pizzerialibretto.com/

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