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Trattoria Rustica - Flavorless. unless your fond of Lysol

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Tried with the group Saturday night at 8. First timers we had heard good things about the casual eatery. First off, no host. so we thought we had to sit in the storefront. A man from behnd thecounter asked slices or dinnner. We said dinner yet we were never told that the dining room was in the back of the business. We didnt know about it till we saw other folks walking and going back there to be seated. No problem...we had a nice table for the 4 of us and were fine. Five full minutes go by before we get greeted by our friendly server. We give our drink orders wan are shown the special board. 10 full minutes go by. Our drinks are on the counter while our server cheerfuly chatted with the other staff, kissed people from the dining room goodnight...and oh yea...Ive got your drinks. By now my radar is up so I tell table, when she gets here lets get the orders in..apps, entrees etc.

She returns with the drinks and a basket of fresh baked focacia bread with butter and a simple but tasty olive tapenade. Ok..things are looking up. Appetizer ordered fried calalmari, 2 caesar salads, I pasta fagioli. Calamari came promptly. Well fried not tough, nice sized portion. Absolutely no flavor at all....salt and pepper no where in dish. Bland marinara, I asked for the crushed red pepper.
Soup comes out next.. Amazingly the thinnest Pasta Fagioli Ive ever seen. Tasty broth but no bindng hearty consistency you expect from this filling peasant dish. Ok 15 minutes later the salads arrive. I ask her to "fire" the entress....we've been here an hour now. Salads, fresh crisp and they should have been, they were taken out of the cold water and not drained enough so that the dressing puddled in a diluted mess on the bottom on the plates. Croutons were good most likely the left overs of the tasty focacccia breads from the basket)

Entrees arrrive..child number 1, 2 plain slices and and order of fries. Great fries, potato starch coated just the way my kid loves them! Child number 2 chicken tenders and fries. Rave for fries, tenders actually dark gray inside..
I ordered the special Jumbo Shrimp pasta with Broccoli Rabe,Sun Dried tomatoes in a Madeira Sauce. Nothing at all married this dish together. Several slices of raw garlic in a watery bland sauce. And another major pet peeve of mine, tail on shrimp in a pasta dish that had been dredged in flour which gave the a glue like coating. Not an herb to to be found except the parsley toss around the rim of the place. I ask little one for one of his slices since I cant eat this mess. Ive had better pizza on Fridays in the school cafeteria. Once again..no flavor....oregano, basil, oilive oil? Second entree of cavatelli with broccoli. Pasta cooked fine, broccoli cooked yesterday? No flavor again...I wonder if they salt their cooking solution.or worse yet, rinse it off to hold. The topping of this story is just as our entrees had come out, the kitchen staff (open kitchen) had doused the enire kitchen and areas just behind us with Lysol cleaning fluid. It was so strong it had our eyes watering. Really no excuse for that.

Server cheerful. but inept and too intune to her regulars and their long dramatic goodbies. (lieterally everyone who left) Left my standard 20% because Im in the busines...but boy....amazes me these places are packed!

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Trattoria Rustica
259 Main St, Matawan, NJ 07747

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  1. Sounds pretty grim but 'In the business' or not, With all that went wrong, if you left a 20% tip and you didn't even speak to anyone at the restaurant, RE: Multipe issues, then sadly you're definitely not part of the solution.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tay

      We've moved a digression of whether it's the customer's role to complain to the restaurant after a poor experience to the Not About Food board at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/775427

      Please continue any further discussion of that point there. Thanks.

    2. You must have had a really off night and in sorry to hear this. I have eaten here multiple times over the years and it has been fantastic every time, not to mention that the owner is always there to greet you. My GF said they severed her the best Eggplant Rollatini she has had to date (2/26/2011), and she is VERY picky about it.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chemkreation

        Maybe it was an off night...because I had heard good things too..and its right next to one of my favorite area bakeries (ABBATE)...sorry about the "bad form" in not naming the name of the restaurant, Chalk it up to professional guilt. Complaining to the establishment might have helped...especially if the lysol tretment is a common practice, they may not be aware of the way it permeates the entire seating area. As far as tipping....well that is just professional courtesy, because you can't hold the server accountable for the food too.

        1. re: foodislove1958

          I'm curious to know if you are a restaurant owner, or simply a worker.

          1. re: fourunder

            And I'm curious to confirm if this is the place in Matawan or the restaurant of the same name that's in Montclair...out of fairness to one or the other, I hope you'll tell us. Fwiw, I haven't been to the one in NNJ.

            1. re: Curlz

              In the begining thread, it states Matawan. @forunder prefer to to be discreet...I can assure you the review is totally unbiased.