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Mar 7, 2010 10:00 AM

Polentoni in Culver City - Bad/Weird Dining Experience

So we were looking for a neighborhood italian restaurant the other day for a quick bite and a glance at yelp (dont know what the heck i was thinking checking Yelp) turned up Polentoni. A little Italian restaurant where the old Cafe Roberto used to be. I had had some horrible experiences at Cafe Roberto but figured since this was a new place it was worth trying. We showed up at about 7 and were promptly seated in what was a pretty fool dining room. The waitress brought us our menus and came back a few minutes later to take our orders. The 4 of us ordered and as we sat waiting for our food we realized that all the tables around us were being told of some daily specials which we were never informed of. I always find this pretty annoying because one shouldnt have to affirmitively ask about specials but should just be told about them by the staff.

Anyway, we ordered and waited about 15 minutes. The first three dishes came out and we sat there waiting for our fourth persons food. We waited and waited...and waited. About 10 minutes later the other dish came out. As the waitress puts it on the table, she asks the rest of us how our food is before noticing that nobody had started eating yet...everyone was waiting for our 4th to be served before starting. She then seemed shocked that we would wait and the whole time did not apologize for the delay in delivering the 4th dish.

The food in general was mediocre and certainly not good enough to make up for the horrendous service.

Literally all 4 people in our group thought that this place would be a great candidate for Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. The people seemed nice enough and seemed to be working very hard...but not very smart. Everyone that was working was running around like mad but nothing seemed to be getting done.

They may have good intentions at this place but at the end of the day they dont i wont be going back.

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  1. I wonder if this is under the same ownership but just with a new name? We went to Cafe Roberto years ago when they first opened and it was ok. They did a couple of pasta dishes that I found pretty good but the owner personally gave me the creeps. Haven't been back since the late 90s because of this, the service had slipped, and it seemed for whatever reason that the ratio of cops on break to patrons not packing heat had gone up to about 1:3. Just a weird ambiance.

    1. I can never tell what in that space is actually open for business, much less what they're serving, and the sheer number of names on the place would indicate a lot under-capitalized turnover. Roberto's Grill, Roberto's Caffe, House of Pasta, and Potentoni come to mind but there may be more. And those may be wrong. We always joke about it driving by - "so I'll meet you at (fill in...)"

      Any decent alternatives in that area? I've noticed a couple Italian places on Lincoln near Bristol Farms (Italy's Little Kitchen?). Just something close and easy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cant talk...eating

        i would recommend AVOIDING both italy's little kitchen, and alejo's, the two places on lincoln.
        the closest GOOD italien food for sit down dining is, imho, antica pizzaria in marina del rey.
        for good take out, at prices just as high as most sit down places, go to THE GOOD PIZZA in westchester on emerson.

        1. re: westsidegal

          Westside: thanks! Love Antica, yes. I'll give The Good Pizza (what's with these names?) a try.

      2. Definately the same people as Cafe Roberto. They just rebrand ths place every couple of years.

        1. One of the worst dinners I've ever had - I wonder why people who have NO skill at all in preparing food decide to open restaurants? It's a mystery to me!!

          5 Replies
          1. re: LAfoodlvr

            because most customers are not chowhounds.
            most customers can't tell the difference between a horrible food mix made up of the lowest level of commercial/industrial ingredients and good food made with good quality ingredients.

            for italian restaurants, this means that as long as the red sauce has something resembling canned tomatoes in it, most folks find it acceptable.

            1. re: westsidegal

              Had the worse experience at Polentoni. We're talking terrible food and horrible service. Burnt food that took forever. I could not wait to leave. Total rip off. Stay away! You don't have to ba a chowhound. Never heard one good thing about this dump.

            2. re: LAfoodlvr

              I would love for this place to be good. It's really close to my house.

              But it's been truly horrible in every incarnation.

              1. re: PaulF

                agree with your assessment in all respects.

                1. re: PaulF

                  Went there once. Service was indifferent at best, staff was busy watching a soccer game on television. I ordered something that was supposed to have either broccoli rabe or broccolini (I can't recall) and it came with regular broccoli without any explanation.

                  That whole little mini mall gives me the creeps, actually.

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