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Nov 29, 2010 10:37 AM

Terrible experience at Pazzo Pazzo

Warning: Long Read

Before I begin to write this review, I must admit that I am partially at fault for the terrible experience we had at Pazzo Pazzo. When we arrived there were 3 groups in front of us waiting, but it appeared that several tables would be leaving very soon. There were also several large groups dining - a ten top, a fifteen top, and maybe another 20 top. Oh and did I mention Pazzo is just off of Churchill square and it was the Saturday before Grey Cup? Oh also, I believe their Groupon had just come out this week. Needless to say they were busy, however, I am not sure this excuses the way I was treated by our server.
The reason we (me and the bf) decided to try Pazzo was indeed the Groupon. I love Italian food and after looking over their menu and their urbanspoon reviews, I was pretty excited to try it. We arrived around 6:30 and what transpired next should have been the first red flag that tonight was not the night to be trying Pazzo Pazzo. I basically stood at the front counter staring at the servers for 15 mins as they rushed back and forth trying to serve their tables with absolutely no acknowledgement. After waiting 15 min, I asked Joesph, the manager if I could put my name on the list, he told me Susan would be right with me. I waited another 10 mins and still no help. By this time, another party of 2 had arrived and were having the same problem, except this lady was practically stood in the doorway to the kitchen, basically there was no ignoring she was there, but somehow still no acknowledgement. Finally I flag down one of the servers and get our name on the list. Tables were slowly seated and we waited patiently. Finally, 50 mins after we arrived, we were seated by the manager / our server Joseph. Unfortunately, we got the very back table by the fireplace with another table of 2 in front of us, a table of 20 beside us (they had their own server) and a table of 10 to the left of us.
We were seated and immediately asked for water (it was hot in there!). We decided since it was so busy that we wanted to choose what we wanted and order when he brought our water. I was going to go with the Mussels Entrée ($22), which came with a choice of either pasta or salad. However, the specials board did not indicate what kind of a sauce that it came with - I always hope for white wine garlic. Our server returned (after 15 mins of being seated) and I inquired, he said tomato. Darn! Should have thought of a backup choice. He hurriedly asked if we wanted a few more minutes. We had to ask for bread at this point, because I was basically ready to gnaw off my own arm, all the other servers seemed to be brought right away, but along with our water we had to ask for it. Also by this point, our water had been empty for quite some time.
I decided on the Carbonara, however, only the entrees came with salad, so I was going to see if I could order a side ceaser separately. Our server returned (after another 15 mins) and we placed our orders - the bf ordered the penne arrabiata. All seemed to be going well until I inquired about whether I could order a side ceaser. I was sternly told no, they only have one size of salad. I found this to be quite confusing because the entrees come with salad, so I inquired whether there was a surcharge to order salad with a pasta dish. I was told again very sternly that there is only one size and that it cost whatever the menu says it costs. The reason I was so confused is because the ceaser salad cost a whopping $12, which is pretty pricey and probably HUGE. I am not a fan of wasting food so I decided to forgo the salad and just ordered pasta. Again we had to ask for our waters to be topped up.
Surprisingly, we did not have to wait long for our food, I would say about another 15 minutes and the portion sizes were quite large. Our food was not delivered by our server, so this may have to do with what happened next, although we had watched many other tables offered parmesan and fresh ground pepper, we never were. We decided to pick at our food while we tried to get our servers attention and ask him for it. I was eating, and the carbonara was pretty good, until I put what I thought was a big mushroom in my mouth. Nope, big old piece of sausage. Now I could see how most people would probably welcome this food screw up - however, if you have read any of my other reviews, you will know that I am not a big fan of meat and try to keep my intake to a minimum. Small pieces of bacon fine, seafood fine, big hunks of fatty sausage, no thanks! The menu said nothing about sausage and carbonara is not traditionally made with it. Sausage Carbonara is, but that is not what the menu reflected. While the chunks were quite large it was hard to pick them out because they were roughly the same size as the mushrooms and it was really dark in there. At this point I was pretty annoyed, especially since we had both been trying to flag our server down for 15 minutes!! He never came back to check on our food or see how we were doing, and we both had empty glasses again. He served the tables around us and filled glasses but it was like he was intentionally avoiding us, keeping his back just to us. I tried saying "excuse me" several times when he was close, but it was so loud in there, I think he just couldn't hear us. We asked another server to grab him for us, and she never did. 20 minutes had passed and our food was more or less cold, still under seasoned and containing items that the menu did not say it had in it. Needless to say, I was pretty pissed.
I walked up to the counter where my server was and explained to him that I had been trying to flag him down for 15 minutes now and that if he had come to check on how our food was I could have communicated to him that there is a problem with my dish. He sternly told me to sit down and he would come as soon as he could. I mean I get that your busy but to completely ignore a table?? This was ridiculous! I explained to him that I had sausage in my pasta, that we had been waiting for cheese and pepper and that our food was now cold. He totally lost it and made a scene. He said "Look Ma'am you have been on my case all night!" - "What do you want?? New dishes". I was completely taken aback, the whole restaurant was no staring at us!! He tried to tell me that they always put sausage in even though it is not on the menu, everyone loves it and I should pick it out. I told him to pack my food up and that we were leaving. The BF was pretty fuming at this point as well… he told him that we weren't going to argue with him and that we shouldn't have to pay for this especially after the server had raised his voice and made this huge scene. I didn't even want the takeaway, I just wanted to leave whether we paid or not.
The server came back with the take away boxes and sheepishly apologized. He asked us not to leave and offered us tiramisu and peach grappa. I told him no, but he practically forced us to take it. I really just wanted to leave. The BF caved and said fine. Turns out the tiramisu was the best thing we had eaten, too bad we didn't just come for desert. We finished as quickly as possible and got the bill. Oddly enough he had taken our dinner off but added the tiramisu and grappa onto the bill. Whatever, I was too tired to argue and we had a groupon anyways. I seriously just wanted to leave. We paid with our groupon to which he automatically added a 15% gratuity to (yeah right). Again, whatever, didn't argue. Main objective: get the hell out of there. I have never refused to leave a tip no matter how bad the service was, but given the choice, I would have not left a tip last night.
Add insult to injury, as we were walking away the table that had been to our right, which he had also been serving (which he appeared to know personally) knocked on the window and sarcastically waved goodbye. Awesome!
All in all, the dinner pushed into 3 hours, our plans to go sledding were toast, we were still hungry and both pretty mad. Honestly, the guy seemed like he could have been a nice guy (see here but this really doesn't excuse the way we were treated.

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    1. I would have left after a half-hour. If they were that busy and you only got the one acknowledgement, that should have been your limit, I don't care what kind of reviews the place got or how big your coupon was. That's nonsense.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MandalayVA

        In all honesty it wasn't the waiting that bothered me, I dont mind waiting for food (well for a table anyways). It was the attitude of our server, the fact that he yelled and argued with me in front of the whole restaurant and the fact that the dish i ordered did not have a major component (sausage) shown on the menu.

        Haha, trust me, I wish I had left though!! Once your invested to a certain point though, it is hard to leave. Other people with other servers in the restaurant seemed to be getting great service despite the conditions.

        Just to clear up any confusion: the article i linked to was to show that Joesph is a good guy (who helped a man with a drug addiction).

        1. re: kati3

          I would have made a scene to have the "Gratuity" removed from the bill..... As it is fraudulent to charge for something you do not receive.

          What a joke.

      2. I'd put restaurants on Grey Cup weekend in the same category as New Year's or Valentine's Day. Restaurant is overbooked, servers are run off their feet(especially with a bunch of large parties already seated), kitchen is crazy busy... add to that a Groupon promo yikes. I don't think I'd write off the restaurant for this one night.

        3 Replies
        1. re: maplesugar

          I agree with Maplesugar - this particular weekend would not have been a good time to go to any restaurant around the area where the official Grey Cup hosting parties and activities were. Your experience was unfortunate, and at least your server did apologize to you afterwards. You might want to consider trying the restaurant during a "regular" time period to see if the service changes (or not).

          1. re: Libertycafe

            I am very sorry you had such an experience. I would actually consider calling and talking to a manager about it.

            I have been there several times, including with a big group, always found the service good and food great. I do suggest giving it another try. Of course, understandable if you do not....this sounded like a horrible night.

            1. re: cleopatra999

              the manager WAS the server who gave the poor service.

              this it really troubling

        2. Thanks you guys for the feedback! I feel better know that other people have had good experiences here and that it probably was just the night (and getting seated in that very back table).

          3 Replies
          1. re: kati3

            you are better than I am...

            nothing makes up for BAD service! And nothing excuses it

            1. re: nanuk

              agreed ... tho, the 'manager' or whoever oversees the restaurant should have started turning away new patrons, knowing their staff was over extended. i'd rather be turned away that evening and be disappointed about not getting in the door (i'm assuming no reservations were made), than be disappointed by the service once I got sat. just because there are tables in the restaurant - it doesn't mean you have to fill them. (for the patron: being upset about not being admitted into a restaurant when you see empty seats! turning away customers??! now you might know why......)

              this should have been recognized (and decided by management) even before you walked in the door - that they weren't going to seat anyone else for another hour, perhaps.

              this above, not the quality of service, makes me upset - spells out to me greed, and management not focusing on taking care of the customer, just their paycheques.

              1. re: morefuuud

                The first and last time we were at Pazzo Pazzo we complained about people smoking at a nearby table ( which is not allowed in Edmonton restaurants) and we were rudely (sternly?) told that since it was late in the evening they were not going to do anything about it. We never went back, although we were not planning to anyway because the food was mediocre.