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d.carlo (Smithfield, RI) - anyone else disappointed lately?

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OOliver Jun 30, 2010 03:12 PM

Yesterday, I met a friend of mine for lunch at d.carlo in Smithfield, RI. This has always been one of my favorite restaurants (as well as hers) - excellent food matched by unparalleled service. My experience yesterday was just the opposite.

I should say that about three months ago, I had a bad experience on a Saturday night for dinner. I was with another friend, whom I took for her birthday, and the service was awful (keep in mind, it was NOT a busy Saturday night in the restaurant). The food was as agood as always, but the service was terrible, The waitress blamed the kitchen, the owner (whom we complained to as we were leaving, when he asked 'Was everything OK this evening?") actually blamed the waitress (said she was having an 'off night'). The "blame game" put me off for a few months - until yesterday for lunch.

We arrived at 1:00 (they end lunch at 2:30, according to whoever answered the phone when I called) to a nearly empty restaurant. One waiter sat us, and gave us dinner menus. I asked him for lunch menus, and he answered "It's just the one menu now." My friend and I didn't feel like ordering big heavy dinner portions, so we settled on four appetizers to share. The waiter took our drink order (2 sodas) and left.

A few minutes later, we had a waitress drop off our drinks, and take our order. When she took the menus from us, she asked if the waiter gave us lunch menus - I told her no, just those. She rolled her eyes and walked away. Huh? (She could have suggested, 'Did you want to take a look at the lunch menu before I put the order in?") So now we knew we could have ordered lunch there as we planned, but didn't say anyhting - we were settled with our choices. We did ask for her to bring out all four apps together, though (two were to be served hot).

She brought out one appetizer (which was a hot appetizer, but was luke-warm) even though we asked for all four to be served together. She claimed we didn't tell her that. Huh?

We then asked if we could have some bread, which she asked with a surprised tone, "You wanted bread?" I told her they always served their delicious bread at lunch and dinner - or did they change? (We noticed a table next to us had the bread basket, as well). A few minutes later she brought us the bread - with no bread plates. (We grabbed some off another table).

She then brought out the other three appetizers, and in the commotion of her trying to arrange the other three plates on the table, she cleared the plate of the first one - even though we weren't finished! We noticed this once we looked down at the re-arranged table, (The other apps weren't as good as they usually are, either - very, very bland).

When she came back to check on us, we told her about the first appetizer - and that we hadn't finished it. She told us she asked, and we said we were finished - so that's why she took it away. Huh? No apology - just her 'matter of fact' answer, which we didn't respond to at all.

By that time, the waiter who originally started with us came back, and said he would be taking over from that point. We did order coffee and a dessert to split, and that was the best part of the lunch. The whole bill - without tip or tax - came to just over $60.

At this point, we have indeed decided we won't be returning there any time soon, nor can we recommend the place any longer. I was telling another friend about it this morning (he and his wife were Saturday night regulars there for the longest time) and he told me the place started slowly going down-hill last Fall, and they haven't been back since the Winter . (He said the owner was not too receptive to his concerns wheninformed about them, even though he knew they are regulars there).

Has anyone else noticed the changes at this restaurant, and what do you think is going on there? It's certainly not up to the standards it once set for itself many years ago when it first opened. Do you think they have just gotten 'too comfortable' and are slacking off?

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    sarabean RE: OOliver Jun 30, 2010 10:58 PM

    this is disturbing. i am always confident in both the service and product here. the last time we were in i believe was april, we sat at the bar and the service was impeccable as always and the food was terrific. i'll have to go in and do some recon.

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      Bluebird RE: OOliver Jul 1, 2010 02:56 AM

      After not going there for more than a year, my husband and I stopped in three weeks ago on a Friday night. We sat at the bar and shared some apps for dinner. Everything, including the the service was very good. So much so, that we said we'd need to try and put it on our list of places we try and get to on a more regular basis.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bluebird
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        JaneRI RE: Bluebird Jul 1, 2010 09:54 AM

        I've always loved it but haven't been in a couple of months....hope Ooliver's experiences are just isolated events!

        On a semi-related note....Rocco down the street is closed from June 26 to......LABOR DAY. They say they'll reopen and honor all gift cards, but to me that does not bode well.

        1. re: JaneRI
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          OOliver RE: JaneRI Jul 2, 2010 09:30 AM

          Thanks guys for the responses. Maybe I just had a few bad experiences there lately? Someone else suggested I sit at the bar next time, because the service is better there than in the dining room. Maybe I'll try it again at some point, but I really can't say I want to rush there any time soon this summer - that's how bad it was.

          Rocco - I haven't gotten there yet, but I have heard it's good. Now it's gone?

          1. re: OOliver
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            foodjunkie1991 RE: OOliver Jul 2, 2010 08:20 PM

            I inquired with someone in the business and Rocco's will not likely reopen in the Fall. It's too bad, I really enjoyed the two meals I ate there but the place was empty both weekend nights I was there.

            1. re: foodjunkie1991
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              foodjunkie1991 RE: foodjunkie1991 Jul 3, 2010 05:07 AM

              Update on Rocco's. The sign outdoors is covered and it says coming soon.

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