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Surreal time at Quattro 4 Ragazze

Went to dinner at Q4R on Tuesday night with friends, and had an unbelievable event. Love to know if anyone else has had any of these things occurr! First of all, I do realize it's a casual family run place, but please!
Got to the restaurant about 7:00 pm,there were 4 other people there. A very young and very casual young women came to serve us(perhaps a daughter/) We ordered drinks, a cranberry juice, a gingerale and an Italian beer Server came back and plopped an unopened plastic bottle of cranberry and an unopened can of gingerale on the table! When asked for glasses she responded with an incredulous"You want glasses?". When the beer orderer mentioned his glass was chipped, we again got the surprised"you want a new glass?" This was to be the theme of the evening. While we waited for our food, there seemed to be an ongoing argument with someone in the kitchen. At one point this person came out and our waitress was yelling at him "stop crying, don't cry!" By now ,2 or three more people had arrived and were on the patio. We noticed everyone but us was getting bread. When our food finally arrived and we asked for bread, you guessed it "You want bread?" As to the food ,meh. Overly salty Pasta Putanesca, overly salty Penne with Vodka, and undercooked eggplant in the Eggplant Pannini. Actually by this time we thought it was all hillarious!!!!!!!! I must admit I've lost my credulity with these friends, since it was my suggestion to go there.
Is this a total abberation, or has anyone else run into problems here?

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  1. Yes, it is hyper casual and yes, their daughters do sometimes wait table and aren't exactly pros. However, I have never had an experience quite like that one. The food, for what it is, has always been properly seasoned and cooked, and has always tasted good. The service has sometimes required shouting into the kitchen, but hasn't been overtly rude.

    1 Reply
    1. re: embee

      My experiences can be described in the same way. Their puttanesca used to be too salty, but it has gotten much better (this was over a year ago when I commented on the saline levels in it). Otherwise, I've never had a problem with undercooking or seasoning.

    2. I've been wanting to try them out for over 2 years now but your review isn't making me feel like rushiing over! You should have ordered some wine, I wonder if they would serve that in glasses or give you a piece of paper to fold into a "glass". Or maybe just swig it out of the bottle?

      1. I have only been once and that will be my last time. Service extremely slow and we were the only table there. I thought the food was less them medicore. Never ever again.

        1. I went there once a little while after it appeared on RM. I had a similar impression towards both the food and service and I have no interest in returning.

          1. I had a reasonable meal and service. I would (and will) return based on that experience. My only problem is that it battles with Bistro Camino in my head, and BC usually wins the tussle.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Paulustrious

              Funny because I went to Bistro Camino last night!!! We always get fantastic service and great food. It's also a family run restaurant, but there is absolutely no comparison!

              1. re: Leslieville

                Right you are about that. Quattro Ragazze wins out when it's late; they tend to be open later than other local restaurants.

                I can imagine such a thing happening there; I sometimes feel as though I'm in their home, rather than in a restaurant, with the pre-teen daughter serving me, other family members dropping by, and casual conversations going on between owners and their friends/family who appear to be hanging out. However, I do think the husband is a very good cook for a family-run restaurant (don't know what happened to your food, but a crying cook isn't going to produce his finest creations). One can overlook the lack of glasses, etc., but customers should never be subjected to histrionics.

                I have to say I have never had problems with my food there. Shame that you did.

            2. I live close to this place and am also curious. Don't think I would sit down for a meal there, but I had a feeling that their pizza might be quite decent. Anyone tried it?

              1 Reply
              1. re: munchieHK

                The pizza is delicious... thin crust - nice amount of toppings! I have had the four seasons pizza several times... but don't go if you're in a hurry... service is quite indifferent and extremely slow...

                My husband and I went after work one evening around 6ish and we didn't leave until well after 8 - we had the breaded artichokes & pizza!

                We would eat there more often if the service was a little more attentive. As other posters have mentioned you do feel like you are eating dinner in the family's palour - when they have friends over - customers come second.

              2. I laughed out loud when I read your post, Leslieville. Based on Chowhound reviews, my husband and I went there on a Saturday night about a month ago. We're good with casual restaurants, but this was beyond our comfort level. Mother and daughter were quite obnoxious in their loudness and calling out to each other across the restaurant, and there was lots of yelling between mother and the kitchen. As someone else mentioned, it felt like being in someone's parlour, except that this felt like the parlour of a dysfunctional family who haven't a clue about common courtesies and acceptable behaviour when running a restaurant.

                Manners aside, the food was not good: The breaded (canned) artichokes were weird, the veal parmigiana would have been passable had it not had about a half pound of cheese on top, and the pizza was not great. I made the mistake of asking for spaghetti with bolognese sauce instead of the tomato sauce listed on the menu, and it was a soggy mess of pasta with a sauce that was barely edible due to its saltiness.

                Needless to say, this constituted our two times dining there -- our first and our last. Yuck!

                1. I had decided not to write anything about my experience at Q4R. It's a small, family owned and operated business not some massive chain that can afford some bad press. Oh well, here goes.

                  I have to say that my friends and I were very unimpressed. RM or not, this is a dingy room the discomfort of which is only surpassed by it's poor service. If you have your daughters serving then you best darn well teach them some manners first. What? We're all supposed to be okay with it because they're young? It was their hiring decision not ours. Stand by it and do it right.

                  We found the cooking to be rank amateur rather than simple, rustic Italian style. Everything, and I mean everything, was oversalted. And then there was the butter content. Any kid can plow a pile of butter into a carbonara to achieve flavour. It's a wise hand that knows when to stop. And honestly. I always start with the basics before I move on to the advance class on a menu. When you can't make a proper spaghetti and meatballs, well hang you head in shame. You're not even trying to please your customers.

                  And as for drowning your pain in wine, foodyDudey, although there is an abundance of truly tasty cheap *ahem* inexpensive, Italian wine none of it can be found on their menu. Make an effort Q4R.

                  There. I said it. Somehow it only makes me feel ashamed, not better.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Googs

                    No reason to be ashamed. The amateur, family aspect has always been there, and service has never been a strong point - especially for the kids. It gets really weird when you order booze and neither mom nor dad is downstairs.

                    We haven't been there in ages but, when we discovered them, dad could cook really well and one daughter seemed able to cook even better. The food was, indeed, "rustic", it was a bargain and, taken on its own terms, it was very, very good.

                    Given this many reports, something has definitely gone wrong.

                    1. re: Googs

                      Googs...don't feel ashamed. There are many family owned restaurants that do a fabulous job in the food and service department. Q4R is getting that kind of reviews it deserves.

                      1. re: Googs

                        I second you, Googs.

                        I don't really like to trash any of the 'passable' businesses in my 'hood (ok, maybe with the exception of Sarahs...hehehe) but based on one experience at Q4R I find it not that different from others. We were the only ones in the back dining room, which is nice enough. I DO remember some elevated voices from the kitchen and I wonder why it seems I'm the only person on here who doesn't have a problem with the shouting.

                        But the food just wasn't good. I had lasagne which was dry, tasteless and was the Italian equivalent of Chinese-Canadian. I could make it three times better with one hand tied behind my back and blindfolded. My dinner companion's veal chop was greasy and...yes, salty! If I'm going to pay for Italian, it'd better be as good but preferably better than what I can do at home.

                        Based on this case, if I want 'Italian' in the hood I'll go get take-out at Columbo's (LOVES ME SOME ARANCINI!) or sit down at Gerrard. For good neighborhood sit-down it's Melanie's.

                        1. re: Googs

                          Googs-- As allways I appreciate your thoughts. But really why should we feel ashamed because they are family run and not corporate? If you're going to act like amateurs and produce an inferior product why not just charge like an amateur ? Really, if you are going to run your business like we are sitting in your dining room at home, including exposing us to your family fights, why not just pretend we're your guests? Don't charge us at all, and we'll just bring you some wine or flowers or perhaps , a home made dessert! As some one else pointed out, if we pay for bad food or service without complaining, we will continue to get bad food and service! It's time for the Revolution!!!

                        2. I will have to pay more attention next time I am there to the serving vibe. Normally I tune out and just work while I'm there so I don't notice anything short of a fire alarm.

                          1. From the tone of the comments here I think take out pizza is the ticket for this establishment :)

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: munchieHK

                              Ahhh if you're on the Danforth, you'd be way better served hitting Danforth Pizza House for your takeout pizza needs.

                              1. re: childofthestorm

                                Have to say I agree with this one. While the pizza I have eaten at Quattro Ragazze was fine, if you want a proper take-out place, Danforth Pizza House can't be beat. The man is there, behind the counter, doing what he does best, and taking pride in it. Basic ingredients only--you won't find anything exotic or unusual on the menu. So, no prosciutto, pesto, grilled chicken and artichoke heart pizzas to be had. But, the bacon's real, and, it seems, so is everything else.

                                munchieHK, why not try both and tell us your thoughts?

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  Now that sounds like a mission I can sink my teeth into, so to speak! I will report back.

                                  1. re: haggisdragon

                                    No, pick-up only, and worth the extra effort. All pizzas made by an old Italian man covered in flour. Really, really old-school and awesome.

                                    1. re: childofthestorm

                                      Someone was telling me recently that the old guy was involved in some of the first pizza places in Toronto - no idea if that is true, and he doesn't really make conversation, but the pizza is great.

                                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                            Danforth Pizza House 920 Danforth near Donlands.

                                            1. re: Pincus

                                              I really wanted to love and support this place but after a few bad experiences, the last one really, really bad, we'll never return.

                                              First, don't even think of asking for some kind of substitution or extra request without getting it priced out; maybe in writing to be safe. We were shocked on one occasion to be charged $5 for a tiny cup of tomato sauce for dipping our pizza crust, but we let it go.

                                              But when we took friends there for a birthday party it was the last straw. My wife asked for a tiny sprinkle of Gorgonzola cheese for her pizza. Another friend asked if she could replace the shrimp in her pasta with chicken breast instead. The tiny crumble of cheese cost $8, we would later find. The chicken (which in our books shouldn't have cost anything since it was replacing shrimp) cost a whopping $13, which was almost the price of the pasta dish itself. My friend tried to handle it with the owners privately, since she didn't want to make a scene at our party, and after raising the outrageous charge with the female owner she was basically told too bad, that's what they were charging.

                                              It should also be noted they completely botched the food for our table of 10 and couldn't handle all those orders at once. A couple people had great dishes, others were barely edible. My pizza crust was worse than cardboard, though I found it reliably good in the past.

                                              Like a previous poster wrote, I almost felt guilty to skewer these guys since they're a family business and I really did want them to thrive, but after they blatantly ripped off my friends and showed absolutely no attempt at making the situation right, they'll never get our business again.

                                              1. re: quixotic79

                                                Yes, I hate to join the pile-on, but I finally got around to trying the pizza there last night and...oh dear.Somrthing is seriously awry in that place. Decided to get a pizza to go, as they are only 5 mins from our place. When my daughter got back with her precious cargo I couldn't believe my eyes. The oil had completely soaked through the thick cardboard. There was so much oil! I could have squeezed out the box and run my car on it. I soon found out why. The crust was just awash in oil. What did they do, deep fry it? It was pretty much inedible, but we soldiered on. The toppings weren't bad. Way too salty and way too greasy, but seemed of fair quality. In the end though, we were defeated by oil (cue George W Bush joke). I can't imagine what is going on in that kitchen. Never again.

                                                1. re: munchieHK

                                                  Wow, that seems a terrible shame. I have had pizza twice there, and it was nothing like that.

                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                    Hey munchieHK, now you need to try Danforth Pizza House and report back. This is a very important mission!

                                  2. This keeps getting worse and worse, and from credible posters. I can only contemplate that there are major family problems, that they are going under, or both.

                                    1. Went last night.

                                      I was solo and the place wasn't very busy. So my experience should be taken with that in mind.

                                      Service was friendly as ever. Mom was doing most of the work, which helped, she's usually quite good at customer service. Everyone was relaxed, no shouting or crying.

                                      Had spaghetti and meatballs. Wasn't over salted. In fact, the meatballs were a bit undersalted for my taste, but the mildly sweet sauce helped to compensate. Basically, I didn't have any problems with the meal and it tasted exactly the same as the spaghetti and meatballs as always (except maybe for the salt levels in the meat itself).

                                      Didn't ask for any subsitutions. Menu price was the same. I can see some evidence of cost-cutting with a new sign stating they don't take Visa/Mastercard for amounts under $25.

                                      Not saying other posters concerns aren't legitimate, just that I didn't have any weird experiences last night.