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Dec 6, 2010 09:07 AM

The "new" Bertucci's in Montgomeryville

Preface: I knew that Bertucci's was a chain, but had heard some very good comments about Bertucci's from a friend of mine, whose opinon I tend to trust.
I wasn't looking for a gourmet meal, just a place to grab a nice dinner

First Impression: Smells amazing when you walk in. One of many hostesses seated us after a brief wait, and our waitress was quick to come to the table. Ilike the decor, modern, but rich jewel tones, low light, but not so much that you can't see what's going on... LOVE the big open view to the kitchen and I was impressed that our wait was very short on a Saturday night at 8:00 considering they hadn't been open long and the place was pretty busy.

Our waitress took our drink orders and we decided to get the "three cheese focaccia" as an appetizer and share a carafe of the brick oven Sangiovese

We only received a HALF carafe, whis was just fine with me by then because the wine was warm and by the time we got the focaccia, that was cold. I think I would have liked it if the cheese had been warm and melty as I had anticipated, but I couldn't tell... oh and the sauce was ICE cold on the side... go figure

Sometime in between the wine delivery and the appetizer delivery (and the thrid time I asked the waitress for a glass of water, just so I could have ONE cube to drop into our wine) we ordered and I was still intoxicated by the heavy perfume of garlic, wood fired oven and tomato sauce and I threw caution to the wind and get Spaghetti and Meatballs, with marinara sauce

if you know me even just a little, you'd look at me like my husband did, "Why on earth did you do that!?!?!"

My husband ordered Chicken Marsala with mushrooms, asked if he could have garlic and oil on the side of pasta instead of sauce...they never heard of such a thing!
the waitress came back and asked again if he meant to have the flavored olive oil over the pasta, he explained, toast garlic in the olive oil then toss the pasta in the oil/garlic mixture.... can you ask whoever is in charge of the pasta if they can do that.

well, according to our waitress the "substitution" caused confusion in the kitchen, because it then took another 20 minutes for our dinner to arrive... luke warm ... before the Mister's salad came.

*sigh, take a deep breath, just enjoy the food...

Despite being cold and dried out around the edges because the waitress forgot to deliver it to us and then acted as if it were the kitchen's fault; pasta was good, a little over cooked but I really do like their marinara sauce. it's pretty good... meatballs... not to my taste. they're overly seasoned in my opinion, and taste of processed frozen meatballs that you get on a wa-wa shortie... (please don't disregard this review for the fact that I've eaten a wa-wa meatball shortie on a few occasions, hey we all have to eat)

the mister's chicken dish, however was such a disappointment
We literally think they forgot the marsala wine in making it and there was the equivalent of one button mushroom sautee'd in along with some non-descript flavorless beige sauce. The "wilted spinach" was raw with raw pieces of garlic and also had no seasoning, his whole dish was also cold, colder than mine.

when his cesar salad finally arrived it looked as if it too had been sitting around for a while, dressing tends to wilt lettuces pretty quickly...

So, I wanted to say to the waitress>>" dont' tell me that it's the kitchen's fault when you bring me cold food... I'm not that stupid" but I refrained

so as if all this was not bad enough... there was a waiter there, tall slender guy with black rimmed glasses who apparently enjoyed leaning over and asking us if everything was OK... at first my husband thought he was a manager, but his interest, we learned, was not really in how well we were doing, it was how far he could look down my blouse

the mister overheard him using some low-level language and then told our waitress that he wanted to bring the leftovers to our table, so he could "get a another look"

we paid, left exactly 15% tip I've left them a comment on their website and I will never, ever return there again!

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  1. wow - that is really unacceptable. Please let us know if they respond to your website comment

    1. Whoa thanks for the heads up cgarner! I usually end up going on a marathon Christmas shopping trip in a week or so and if not for you and your review, my group may well have ended up at Bertucci's. One year we ended up across the street at Marconi's Grille and another time we landed at Pumpernik's shortly before closing on a holiday evening. That did not end well. The bleach! The bleach! Sounds like you took a bullet for us all!!!!!!!!!

      625 Cross Keys Rd, Sicklerville, NJ 08081

      2 Replies
      1. re: givemecarbs

        We have a Betucci's in Bryn Mawr. I have never had a problem sticking to the Mergherita Pizza (which is all we order there.)

        1. re: phillyjazz

          I agree. Stick to the Margherita pizza at Bertucci's.

      2. Sorry you had such a bad experience there, cg.

        I went early Friday evening with mom. We were amused at the number of staff at the door, in the dining room and in the kitchen. But after we were greeted by our young and obviously inexperienced waitress (the tip off--she couldn't pronounce merlot ;), a man fits the description of your "other waiter" came over, introduced himself as a training rep and indicated he'd be observing. We then realized 1/2 the "staff" had red "Bertucci's Training Team" logos on their shirts. We think they were sent by the mother ship to coach and noticed they were correcting the servers and bussers as they went along their business.

        Anyway, for the important part--the food. We ordered an onion bisque soup that was cold (not just not piping hot, but chilly). However, we both thought the entrees were very good. I had a steak that was nicely seasoned and perfectly cooked. I know, a steak at an Italian chain restaurant? But it was good, and put me in a happy place for the mall crowds. Mom had the seafood di mare which was steaming hot and she said was also very good. The waitress forgot to bring an extra plate for the mussel shells, but before we could even ask, one of the "trainers" provided it.

        Friday was their third day open, so we expected some kinks. I guess wild swings in the quality of cooking is one of those kinks--Friday's cooks had learned the Bertucci's menu, Saturday's hadn't? Saturday at 8:00 is more crowded than Friday at 5:00 and they have not yet learned to handle the rush?

        4 Replies
        1. re: gaffk

          hard to say, gaffk... I am an extremely patient person for new resto's and the wait staff too...warm wine, we mentioned it to the waitress but I don't think that got back to the bar... they obviously have the Bottles sitting somewhere they shouldn’t be (like next to the sink full of hot water that washes glasses behind the bar maybe?)
          I worked in a few restaurants in my day and I’ve seen wine bottles being stored like that… but it’s something they should take note of and correct. I’m hoping (for their sake) that either a smart bartender figures it out or enough customers complain about the warm wine that move it

          We noticed a few trainers, too… one of them delivered the wilted salad.

          So if it’s Bertucci’s in the future, it’s the one on Trooper Road (closer to where I work) or it’s the one in Plymouth Meeting… otherwise I guess it’s back to LaCampagnola in Lansdale for any Italian that I’m not making at home

          625 Cross Keys Rd, Sicklerville, NJ 08081

          1. re: cgarner

            I like to make my Italian at home too cgarner. John and I had a nice time once at Ariana's and long before that I went there with a friend for lunch on Christmas Eve and Santa and his helpers were dining there too! It wasn't busy that time and I think Santa was appreciating the peace and quiet. John and I made it to LaCampagnola once too. It was a very early friday evening dinner and we had the place to ourselves. It was an interesting experience. Either place has got to be better than Berucci's unless they really get their act together soon.

            1. re: givemecarbs

              Yes, La Campagnola is always an "interesting" experience. Good food, but always way too much of it; and an intersting family dynamic in the staff. Haven't been there in years, even though it's just down the road from work.

            2. re: cgarner

              Our merlot was the proper temp so maybe it was a mistake of pouring it into a carafe that was straight out of the dishwasher (which would definitely piss me off to the point of a complaint at the moment of drinking).

              I had lunch today with a colleague that had lunch with her mom Saturday at the new Bertucci's (what's with mom's and Bertucci's?). They, too, had a good experience. She wanted something that was no longer on the menu, and they made it for her; so at least they are not a chain that serves pre-made dishes at a central location and then just reheat.

              That said, I understand your aversion to returning. There has been more than one restaurant where, after one bad experience, I never returned. And if the first experience is bad, the likelihood of no return visit increases significantly.

          2. As a former front-of-house and back-of-house restaurant worker who is usually forgiving of mistakes and generous with tips I think your 15% tip was way too much. The Philly area folks are bigger tippers than i the rest of the country (avg. 20% here) so it seemed like you were telegraphing your dissatisfaction. You weren't.

            A 5% tip would've gotten their attention and perhaps gotten a manager to come over. Maybe you're uncomfortable with that type of discussion or confrontation so you commented on the website and posted here. Both good moves, but perhaps less effective.

            Telling the manager about the warm wine, cold food, inattentive waitress and ogling training waiter was appropriate on all levels. They need to know about the problems ASAP and you deserved acknowledgment and perhaps some type of comp.

            JMHO, but the 15% sends the message you were satisfied customers.

            1. Two comments: Not sure what you mean by warm wine? Sangiovese is a red, and not supposed to be served chilled. You may prefer it that way, and have every right to, but that's not a mistake on the restaurant's part.

              Secondly, and more importantly: "get another look?" WHAT? And you left any tip at all? That is grounds for calling the Manager over immediately for some feedback. Totally unacceptable, even offensive.

              15 Replies
              1. I rarely if ever put an ice cube in any wine, let alone a red like Sangiovese. It wasn’t just a personal preference of having the wine at a cooler temperature, I meant that the wine was actually warm… possibly the carafe and/or glasses just came out of the dishwasher, or as I said, the wine bottles were being stored near something hot.

                The tip that we left was for the harried, inexperienced waitress that was serving us, not for the masher who was ogling me.

                Maybe because I worked as a waitress and have been in that first week opening circumstance where you always seem to get that one table where Murphy’s law is the rule of the day for those diners and everything that could possibly go wrong, does… it stinks and sometimes it’s the servers fault and sometimes it’s the kitchens fault and in this case (with the exception of the creep) it was a mixture of both. I can’t fault the server for the warm wine or the bland food, I can fault her for not delivering the food to us in a timely manner, which resulted in the food being cold and the salad being late and wilted.

                If the person ogling me had been serving us, there would have been no tip. Both my husband and I were so flustered, me to near the point of tears, husband to the point that had he said something it would have gotten “ugly” and we’re not the types to make a scene. So I called the restaurant, got the guy’s name and reported the whole scene on their comments section of their website.
                (I still have not had a response)

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    I know, and thank you.

                    I wanted to clarify for truffles2 question of the wine being 'warm' and answer to the subject of my leaving a 15% tip

                    1. re: cgarner

                      My experiences at Bertucci's have always met expectations: which are low. The few times I have had takeout there I have always chided myself afterwards saying " Now why did I spend the bucks on that stuff? I do have friends who like their BertuccI's, oh well.

                      It has been a few years since I have been salaciously starred at, or in fact starred at flurtaiously; the last time it was because of the red sauce on my face. I complement you for your non-conforntational approach while still calling the situation to the attention of management via their web site. Which may prevent this from happening to another. I am sure IF he was confronted about this his response would be " who me" no I did not ,she is imaging things. Unfortunately without coaboration it is a difficult situation for management to resolve. By noting this the next time this occurs it would be a level of verification of the initial charge and warrant some management action.

                  2. re: cgarner

                    No response yet huh? Sounds like nobody's minding the store. I very rarely complain at all if I had a bad experience. The way I see it I'm out for relaxation and a good time. If I just leave and put the experience behind me, maybe even laugh later, I don't feel so bad about it. Complaining to the manager, confrontations, only make me feel worse and seem to make the whole disaster even bigger in my own mind. Who needs more negative feelings? I don't want to work hard for my fun, and going back for a comped meal would just make me uncomfortable.
                    Our party did ask to be moved away from the kitchen area that time at Pumperniks because the stench from the bleach they were using was like an assault on our senses. I've been back to Pumperniks plenty of times but never near closing.
                    I used to work as a waitress too. Studies have shown that people in those types of jobs are the best tippers, way better than doctors and lawyers. I think we have more empathy. It takes a lot to piss me off but your experience was way over the top cgarner. Again thanks for the warning.

                    1. re: givemecarbs

                      I received a phone call from the Guest Relations Manager. she says she's the one and only guest relations manager, and is also the employee relations manager. The thanked me for my passion regarding food and my input regarding the 'kinks' that needed to be worked out with the location.

                      she also apologized to me for the 'unfortunate' experience I had and wanted to show me that Bertucc's cared enough to comp another dinner for my husband and I at another time.

                      I thanked her very much for calling, noting that was a very decent thing for them to do and graciously accepted her offer for a gift card for another meal...

                      carbs I'm with you I don't want to work hard at having fun either... I don't know that I'll use the card at all let alone go back to that location, but I'm glad I've got that past me...

                      now, where to eat tonight?

                      1. re: cgarner

                        Awesome! Thanks for coming back and giving us fellow hounds some closure. A long time ago I was mailed a gift certificate from olive garden comping me for an unfortunate experience at the montgomeryville place. My friends and I drove all the way to the willow grove location to use it.
                        You could always give the card to someone you don't like. :) May your dining adventures in the future be most excellent. As for me, I can't seem to get that baked brie en brioche I snagged at Costco off my mind. Must resist!

                        1. re: givemecarbs

                          My daughter likes Olive Garden. I can't stand it. The M-Ville location has to be the absolute worst.

                          Baked brie en brioche? As much as I try to avoid Costco at Christmas, I may have to force myself to head over there!

                          1. re: crazyspice

                            It is addicting be warned. I found it in a little refrigerated tub somewhat off by itself containing the brioches, gingerbread cheesecakes and cannoli cakes, kind of behind the pizzas and adjacent to the fish. They still had plenty o' wreaths for 14.99 each on monday when I went.

                            1. re: givemecarbs

                              I got my wreath last week. I also picked up their rack of pork. I roasted it on the grill and OMG! Just amazing!! I guess I am starting a shopping list.

                  3. re: truffles2

                    "Two comments: Not sure what you mean by warm wine? Sangiovese is a red, and not supposed to be served chilled. You may prefer it that way, and have every right to, but that's not a mistake on the restaurant's part"

                    Since the mods deleted my first post, I suppose I'll try again.

                    OP, I understand your frustration with warm wine. Too many restaurants simply leave their reds sitting out anywhere, thinking that the average North American "room temp" (70ish degrees) is an acceptable serving temperature. Reds should be served around 60 degrees, meaning that even under a restaurant's best intentions (not near the dishwasher/sink/etc. the wine is served way too warm.

                    Wine served too warm causes the alcohol flavors and scents to become more pronounced, while subtleties and nuances are lost. It's really a shame that many places either don't know any better or don't care.

                    Cool that the restaurant contacted you. Did they mention anything about the wine temp?

                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                      "OP, I understand your frustration with warm wine. Too many restaurants simply leave their reds sitting out anywhere, thinking that the average North American "room temp" (70ish degrees) is an acceptable serving temperature. Reds should be served around 60 degrees, meaning that even under a restaurant's best intentions (not near the dishwasher/sink/etc. the wine is served way too warm. "

                      Don't know why they would have removed that post...things that make you go hmmm!

                      The woman glossed over the food/wine end of the complaint, with compliments to me like "I can tell by the descriptive quality of your letter to us that you're as passionat about good food and a great dining experience as we are"
                      (yeh... ok) so no, she didn't directly address any of those issues, except to ask for our patience as it is a new location with new employees.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        I have a favorite restuarant that does everything perfect except serve their red wines too warm (room temp in a warm room) and their whites too cold (straight from a fridge at food temp - maybe 40 degrees).

                        I try to explain to everyone that the rule about red wines at room temp was made 300 years ago in English castles. Definitely NOT 70+ degrees. At another restaurant I had a waitress argue with me when I asked for a ice bucket to cool a bottle of red.

                        1. re: Dave_in_PA

                          Wow, I've never had anyone argue about an ice bucket for a warm bottle of red. I also happen to like to drink champagne from a white wine glass, not a flute. I think it opens up the taste, whereas the flute gives it a more "citrusy" flavor. I've gotten some "looks", but I've never been argued with when I asked to have the flutes replaced with white wine glasses.