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Mi Piace (Pasadena) - Reviews?

AlwayzHungry Mar 17, 2006 02:52 PM

I was wondering if anyone has been to Mi Piace in Old Town Pasadena. Any recommendations on what to try or not try?


  1. o
    ohdaylay Jun 27, 2009 02:47 AM

    Wow, people really hate this place. I've always liked it. The pasta dishes always seemed fresh and the sauces were nice. OK, it ain't super authentic, but it works. Although, the prices could be more reasonable.

    1. avivale Jun 26, 2009 10:22 AM

      I like Mi Piace at breakfast. It's a nice space for sitting and relaxing; the iced cappuccino is very good (if expensive), and the baby waffles look delicious (I usually get an omelet). Of course, there's nothing Italian about the breakfast.

      I am curious about all the delicious-looking pastries in their bakery display. Do they taste as good as they look? Any recommendations?

      1. h
        Hapafish Jun 25, 2009 01:41 AM

        Wow! can't believe this thread is still going but here goes! My co workers and I do enjoy their happy hour prices. (I think they have a special on Mondays all night long) The caprese, calamari and tuna were all decent (especially when it's half off!) Martinis too. probably wouldn't go for a full priced meal though. the ambiance is cool--kinda modern decor. Service is OK. We sit in the bar though.
        I second the Brigante rec. (in south pas) It's very good all around--food, ambiance,service.

        1. mfromwhere Jun 25, 2009 12:12 AM

          Mi Piace is lackluster.

          Through reading reviews of Italian spots in and around Pasadena I was misdirected to Celestino (which was terrible, and I'm a pretty forgiving critic).

          My next shot at Italian in Pasadena was Briganti in South Pasadena.

          It was really really good.

          No frills Italian that makes even the simple dishes really nicely.
          The vibe was perfect too.
          None of the LA-trying to be fancy nonsense... It was like a modern family restaurant vibe with a nice patio area.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mfromwhere
            rednyellow Jun 25, 2009 05:38 PM

            I've only been to Celestino once for lunch and it was very good, Two of us split a couple apps and pastas and one fish entree. We both were happy with all of it.

          2. a
            aritnom Jun 20, 2009 11:09 PM

            i think everyone is feeding off each other, we tend to try and write more negative than we do positive. i am a big foodie, having eaten at 3 star michelin in france and around the world down to tiny hole in the walls in thailand. Mi Piace gave us instant service at the bar, my martini was excellent and the service attentive, our table was a booth and our server was snappy on the service and helpful. we were not high paying clients as we were not that hungry, so no bottle of wine or appetizers and our service was still good. my dining partner had their seafood linguine which was very good, fresh seafood, huge prawns and a decent half lobster tail. i had the half grilled chicken stuffed with herbs with mashed potatoes and it was very good, quite comparable to grilled chickens i have had in tuscany. we didnt have dessert so i cannot say much more but that we had a good experience and i would return.

            1 Reply
            1. re: aritnom
              justanotherpenguin Jun 21, 2009 09:36 AM

              since this thread started over 3 years ago, i'm wondering if any else has had a recent experience?

            2. l
              lexusalhambra Jun 10, 2008 08:55 PM

              Great happy hour! All liqour (top shelf included) half off. Bar appetizers also like small pizzas, fried calamari, caprese and friend fry trio. Nothing to rave about but good prices.

              1. rednyellow Jun 10, 2008 05:38 PM

                I tried to eat their osso buco a couple weeks ago, it was awful, the worst I have ever had, couldn't even eat it. Bland, oily, just plain bad, as was everyhting else that night. Furthermore, as you say they dont know their pasta or pizza.....how good of an italian rest. can they be?

                1. h
                  homebound Sep 17, 2007 10:58 AM

                  Even CPK is better than Mi Piace.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: homebound
                    slacker Sep 17, 2007 01:04 PM

                    I can't disagree more. Way back when there wasn't that much in old town, I'd go to Mi Piace and thought the food was just fine. These days I only go there if someone else really wants to go. But it is in no way inferior to CPK.

                  2. h
                    hello12345 Sep 16, 2007 01:54 PM

                    Mi Piace does have a long wait, but like someone else said, THERE IS A REASON. A couple people said to just go to Maccaroni Grill.. Are you serious?? Mi Piace may have its bad days, but Maccaroni Grill is just another Olive Garden. I think Mi Piace's pasta's are the best in Old Pas (Il Fornaio's is up there too) and even though it's on the expensive side, you're definitely getting your money's worth.
                    And if you don't want to wait 30 min- 1 hour just make reservations.. not that hard.

                    1. redglowh May 27, 2007 11:22 PM

                      Unlike most others, I actually like Mi Piace... I like their chicken lasagna and their pumpkin ravioli =)

                      1. k
                        kinipela May 22, 2007 12:39 AM

                        i recently went there... here's my review =) oh and thanks katkopai! =)


                        i actually enjoyed it =) i had a great group of friends with me and we had a ton of fun.. sure we had a few hiccups in the beginning, but overall we had a great time =)

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: kinipela
                          foodconnoseur May 22, 2007 02:06 AM

                          this place is overpriced.. i think theres one in burbank too...

                          1. re: kinipela
                            katkoupai May 22, 2007 10:33 AM

                            Kinipela, I'm glad you liked it, even though it's clearly not a loved choice here. :)

                            1. re: katkoupai
                              jazzlover May 22, 2007 10:40 AM

                              I have tried so hard to like this place, because my husband just adores it. Just can't find anything likable - food is ehhhhhh, service ranges from adequate to abominable. I will give in and go about once a year just to keep the peace, but IMHO, its a poor excuse for Italian food.

                              The description that comes closest is that its like an airline version of Italian food.

                              I'd rather eat at Tarantino's - not great, but cheaper and the service is 100% better. Also, no attitude!

                              1. re: jazzlover
                                katkoupai May 22, 2007 10:48 AM

                                I haven't been there more than once or twice. I think its strong point is its location. It's right in the heart of Old Pas and has a sort of European sidewalk cafe feel. I think that's the draw for most people. As someone said above-- location, location, location. I could see why Mi Piace is rarely empty. Also, it's one of those places that closes late, even midweek.

                                1. re: jazzlover
                                  italiana3 Sep 16, 2007 02:08 PM

                                  I so agree with you jazz lover. I just found this place and was pleasantly surprised by the entrees. I loved the chicken marsala. Extremely flavorful and the mushrooms were amazing....not canned mushrooms. I would skip the pizza in the future though.

                            2. justanotherpenguin May 20, 2007 05:51 PM

                              the ONLY reason that this place exists and succeeds is: location, location, location. my wife and i went once, in february, just after we had returned from two weeks in italy and we wanted to sit at an "italian" outdoor cafe. both the food and the service were simply not acceptable. should have gone to far niente and sat inside.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: justanotherpenguin
                                Reeter1 May 21, 2007 12:00 AM

                                For chain Italian restaurants, Il Fornaio has the better food in Old Town Pas.

                                BUT, we do go to Mi Piace for two reasons: Nice bar (and decent happy hour bar food -- all half price) and desserts. It's a nice place to go for only dessert and coffee or only a drink and bar food during happy hour.

                                But let's face it: If you want superior Italian food, almost any single, NON-chain restaurant will be a better bet. Colorado Blvd. in Old Town is filled with chain restauarnts. If you want something better, get off the main drag.

                              2. katkoupai May 19, 2007 11:11 PM

                                I've only had dessert and coffee at Mi Piace. The location, with the sidewalk dining, is quite nice, and I see why it's a draw to many people. I have not tried the main courses. I enjoyed the sidewalk patio, though.

                                Also, I have no problem with the Cheesecake Factory in Old Pas. I avoid it when it's crowded, but I've also had a nice salad and a nice dinner there, on two different visits.

                                1. chowfun784 May 19, 2007 05:00 PM

                                  the chicken pezzimolo is awesome! if i lived closer to pasadena, i'd be going there every day!

                                  1. o
                                    owenr Feb 15, 2007 07:07 PM

                                    Mi Piace is highly overrated, although when they do have it the oso buco is delicious. The crowd is too much of a club/be seen kind of group. Why not try Cafe Santorini instead and sit outside on the patio. They have great clam and mussle risotto.

                                    1. rantsnravesnreviews Feb 15, 2007 07:03 PM

                                      I agree......

                                      1. rantsnravesnreviews Feb 15, 2007 09:09 AM

                                        Its really overrated. Overcrowded. I would never go there again. I LOVE Briganti in South Pasadena. Very good service,very good food and lovely atmosphere. Definately a must!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: rantsnravesnreviews
                                          SauceSupreme Feb 15, 2007 04:08 PM

                                          But you have to consider who's rating it and crowding in it. By and large the CH response has been negative and tend to stay away, and these are the opinions I trust most.

                                        2. jazzlover Feb 15, 2007 06:58 AM

                                          For some unknown reason my husband loves it - I agree with the negative posters - tepid is a good description for the food, both in flavor and serving temperature. Wait staff: arrogant to the max and service is poor. It was good when it first opened, but has slid way way down since. I would actually rather eat at Olive Garden - not exciting, nothing special, but service is good and no expectations of something other than ordinary, plus better value for your $$$.

                                          The Burbank Mi Piace is alas, closed. It was superior to the Pasadena branch, but still nothing to go out of your way for.

                                          Il Fornaio - sometimes good, sometimes not - also not very exciting, but usually edible, if overpriced for what it is.

                                          Have not yet tried Briganti, but looking forward to it due the the posts I have read!

                                          Old town Pasadena definitely needs a moderate priced, decent Italian restaurant.

                                          1. SauceSupreme Feb 14, 2007 11:51 PM

                                            For Italian in Old Pas, I like The Kitchen on the corner of Union and Delacey. For Italian in the greater Pasadena area, I like Briganti in South Pas.

                                            1. rednyellow Feb 14, 2007 09:47 PM

                                              AVOID! About 10 years ago it was good. Now the service is awful and the food is only ok. The last time I tried eating ther, over a year ago, we just walked out. The bar is fine for cocktails when shopping around Colorado.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: rednyellow
                                                rednyellow May 31, 2008 02:42 PM

                                                UPDATE. Truly awful. the worst. Against my better judgement joined two friends for dinner last night. Ate at the bar. big mistake. Loud obnoxious crowd. Met the owner. NIce enough guy. Kind of sad, clearly into his 50's with a ponytail, base ball cap and eyeliner, old rocker look. He clearly either doesn't know what is coming out of the kitchen, or doesn't care. Bartenders were sweethearts and did their best to accomodate us. Food was atrocious. Soup tasted like watered tomato sauce with crunchy veggies. not al dente, not crisp, raw crunch. fries were, perhaps corn starch coated, bland mushy, worse than a catering truck. Antipasto plate came with a hard boiled egg so over cooked that it had a thick black ring around the yolk. The rest of the plate looked like it was scooped off the floor, just slopped together. I had the osso bucco, served with I think paparadelle It was priced some where in the $30+ range and was total crap. The meat was oily and flavorless. apeared to have been roasted plain and then covered with an insipid red sauce. The accompanying pasta was gummy, plain dry boiled pasta. I pushed the plate away, clearly offended by it. The bartender was very anxious to try to make it better. He asked what could they do to make it right. I was at a loss for words. It was not as if one or two things were wrong. The meal was astonishingly mediocre from every angle. nothing was even close to good. I just shrugged, said I don't want it, its awful, and I'll pay, just take it away. It was truly offensive to be served that at that price. If I weren't with friends I would have left. The bartender was nice, took it off the check and offered me something else. I wanted nothing more than to leave. Had more wine. I will never go back.

                                              2. b
                                                Bella79 Feb 14, 2007 08:49 PM

                                                Mi Piace is definitely not the best Italian food but it's not the worst either. Only been there twice but the service was good and the food was ok. Would not advise you to go to Il Fornaio though. The beef ragu lasagna I ordered was not even edible and the service sucked-no desire to go back there. Unfortunately I'm pretty new to the Pasadena area and haven't tried many other Italian places.

                                                1. g
                                                  Griller141 Feb 14, 2007 07:58 PM

                                                  OK, just to be different: I think the food is fine, even superior to the other Italian choices in Pasadena. I can't get by the prices at Tre Venezie, though the food is authentic Venetian if authenticity is your only goal; once you have had the bread Il Fornaio is nothing special. Piace's food is more than just adequate and the fact that the owner is Armenian does not affect that. I have never had a problem with the service.
                                                  It is overly crowded and the attitudes of the headwait staff can be a bit off putting at times, and for years I avoided it just because of that. I still wouldn't wait for a table, but lately that hasn't been as much of an issue.
                                                  But it is crowded for a reason - it is reliable and reasonably priced.

                                                  1. SauceSupreme Feb 14, 2007 03:51 PM

                                                    I've never liked Mi Piace, nor have I ever spent much time with others who have. In terms of Italian chains, you could certainly do better than MP.

                                                    1. s
                                                      slacker Feb 14, 2007 03:43 PM

                                                      I went there a lot when they were new years ago, and then went back sporadically because other people wanted to go, last time was a few months ago. I don't think their food is as bad as some of the comments here. I think the food is decent enough. But I hate going there because it's so incredibly crowded with people who either loves the crowd or don't know where else to eat or both. If you want to be where the crowd is, then that's a good place for it.

                                                      1. c
                                                        chowchi1 Feb 14, 2007 03:13 PM

                                                        Mi Piace is definitely over rated. It is over-priced and not worth the hype. Sometimes you sense this place is trying to be more of a night club than a restaurant. Il Fornaio is much better, as well as the bread. Maggiano's and Macaroni Grill are very good for "chains" and customer friendly.

                                                        1. c
                                                          crystaw Feb 14, 2007 03:04 PM

                                                          The bread they serve is pretty good, but that's about all I can remember

                                                          1. m
                                                            MissCaca Feb 14, 2007 03:03 PM

                                                            I've been there twice all because my friends want to go there. I don't know what the deal is, but I'm not impressed by it at all. Their food is just OK...I don't crave it! I hate the waiting, it's ridiculous and not worth it!
                                                            One time, i went there for my friend's birthday celebration that contained 20 something people...Of course, not everyone was on time! BUt we ordered the food anyway without waiting for the late people..
                                                            I overheard the manager getting annoyed and chatting w/the waiter about his complaints w/our late arrivals. How professional is that?

                                                            1. d
                                                              donnymac Mar 21, 2006 11:50 AM

                                                              Unless you're only going for a drink at the bar, I would skip Mi Piace, especially the Pasadena one (the Burbank one is marginally better, probably due to lower volume). The owners are Armenian, not Italian; the cooks are Mexican, not Italian. If you want decent Italian in Pasadena, you'd do better at Il Fornaio. Better yet, hop on the 134 to Glendale and go to Far Niente for the ravioli pomodoro.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: donnymac
                                                                tony michaels Feb 15, 2007 05:24 AM

                                                                If you are going to disqualify eating at an Italian, (or any other type of food for that matter) restaurant in the greater LA area because the cooks are from Mexico then you are going to be eating your meals at home 98% of the time. (g)

                                                              2. g
                                                                glutton Mar 18, 2006 05:15 PM

                                                                It sucks. The food is weak and served by some of the worst waiters to ever walk the face of the Earth. The fact that it is crowded (and Cheesecake Factory across the street is crowded), will forever make me skeptical of recommendations from Pasadena residents. Unfair and unfortunate, but true.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: glutton
                                                                  kj Mar 20, 2006 12:06 AM

                                                                  i don't live in pasadena, but i've been there enough to say your opinion of the pasadena restaurant patrons is unfair - can you tell me one city in california or nevada that has a "slow" cheesecake facory ? there are many fine restaurants in pasadena, mi piace is not a bad place - i've been there several times - in my opinion, it's inconsistent, but it's not bad. it's better than the other italian places in the old town area though i've yet to try the italian place that is in the old delmonico's pizza space on fair oaks - i'm old it's a decent restaurant - i will try it soon.

                                                                  1. re: glutton
                                                                    diningdivala Feb 15, 2007 10:33 AM

                                                                    Boy, this comment is harsh. Doesn't Glutton know that the only people who pack the Cheesecake Factory and Mi Piace...and a good portion of the Old Town Colorado Strip restaurants...aren't even from Pasadena? Tourist traps, every one of them.

                                                                    For Mi Piace, the last tiime I went was for breakfast because that is another thing we desperately lack in Pas, and the service was atrocious, food just OK. The food's always just been OK at Piace. Though we did like it when we first moved here aout five years ago. For Italian, I like Celestino on Lake and Brigante in SoPas. I like Tre Venezie, but different food and expensive. For pizza, we get Manny's delivered and I've picked up a couple nice pies from the Kitchen. Villa Sorriso wasn't too bad for lunch, but it's pretty mediocre. As is Louise's.

                                                                    1. re: diningdivala
                                                                      SauceSupreme Feb 15, 2007 04:06 PM

                                                                      Agreed. Locals in Pasadena know better. UCLA, Oxy or PCC students who just want a place to hang out typically don't care. I lived in Pasadena for four years and never once ate at CF and only one time (after much arm twisting) ate at MP.

                                                                    2. re: glutton
                                                                      onebite May 21, 2007 01:20 PM

                                                                      That's harsh, dude. I live in Pasadena and I never go near Old Town anymore.

                                                                      1. re: glutton
                                                                        katkoupai May 21, 2007 05:57 PM

                                                                        I think this criticism is a bit too harsh. I've actually enjoyed the food at some of the chains in Old Pas and on South Lake. Not every meal at a chain is bad, just as not every meal at a hole-in-the-wall is good. As I haven't eaten the main dishes as Mi Piace, I can't comment on those, but the dessert and coffee were okay (perhaps a bit over-priced, but given the location...)

                                                                        I find Old Pas is way too crowded on the weekends, and I generally don't like to go anywhere on the main strip at that time. However, midweek, it's a nice place to shop, run errands and eat out or see a movie. Also, I've only been to the Cheesecake Factory 3-4 times in my entire life, and I think the food there is fine. I would go back to both Mi Piace and Cheesecake Factory.

                                                                        1. re: katkoupai
                                                                          SauceSupreme Sep 17, 2007 11:59 AM

                                                                          Re-reading my old comment, I'll agree that I was overly harsh, as I quite enjoy Old Pas now and recognize that there's a time and place (and need) for CF and MP.

                                                                      2. c
                                                                        Clare K. Mar 17, 2006 03:02 PM

                                                                        I think the food is okay, but it is incredibly loud and packed at all times. The service suffers because of this on most occasions.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Clare K.
                                                                          chez cherie Mar 17, 2006 03:34 PM

                                                                          been here several times. after the first one, it was against my will...never had anything that was more than barely passable. each time was a bit worse than the time before. loud, pretentious, with marginal food.

                                                                          1. re: chez cherie
                                                                            Cecilbee Mar 17, 2006 03:39 PM

                                                                            I hate this place. Bad food, bad attitude, bad atmosphere.

                                                                            1. re: Cecilbee
                                                                              Warren G. Mar 17, 2006 05:26 PM

                                                                              Mi Piace is ABSOLUTELY the MOST OVERRATED RESTAURANT in Los Angeles. The food is boring, over priced and tepid the times I've been there. The attitude & arrogance of the host staff is really unbelievable. They make you feel that it's an honor to wait an hour for a table & that eating here is truly for the fortunate few. The owner prances around with his pony tail & baseball hat acting as if you are here to pay him tribute for being allowed to dine in his restaurant. Just damn ARROGANT. My recs for good Italian food in Pasadena would be:
                                                                              1. La Foraneta
                                                                              2. Il Forniao
                                                                              3. Tre Venzie

                                                                              These may not be the best Italian restaurants in L.A. but they certainly are much better than Mi Piace.

                                                                              1. re: Warren G.
                                                                                bernardo Mar 20, 2006 02:17 PM

                                                                                Agreed about Il Piace, and Louise's is another place to scratch off the list. If you must have mediocre Italian, why not paronize chains like Il Fornaio, Maggiano's and even Macaroni Grill, at least they're reasonably customer friendly and much more willing to acknowledge their limitations.

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