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Jan 24, 2013 10:08 PM

piccolo venice dinela dinner

was the dinner worth the $45 dinela price?
yes, definitely

was there anything served that was truly, absolutely, sublime?
yes, the third course, parmesan truffle pasta with truffle shavings.

would i consider paying full price in the future?
sadly, no.

why would i be sad about saying this?
because clearly a TREMENDOUS amount of thought and work went into the preparation of the meal. the ingredients were very high quality. the presentation was really lovely. the hot dishes were served on hot plates so that they stayed at the correct temperature until they were consumed. the restaurant was pretty.
but, somehow, the dishes didn't "come together."
(as one example:
maybe it's just me, but parmesan cheese, no matter how high the quality, does little to enhance the flavor of a scallop. to my palate, they would have done better if they had just served the perfectly cooked, perfectly fresh, large scallop by itself on the plate with some sort of garnish and maybe a lemon wedge.
the breads were fresh, which seems to be a rarity these days, and they were served with a good olive oil, but when my dining partner requested balsamic vinegar to go along with it, there was no balsamic vinegar to be had in the entire restaurant. )

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  1. really? not being served shitty industrial balsamic vinegar is a deal breaker?
    surely you two lovely people don't expect them to fork over the real stuff gratis?

    18 Replies
    1. re: linus

      maybe read the first part of the paragraph too, linus.
      also, since you appear to need more details:

      imho, their treatment of the scallop, although it was beautifully plated, didn't work in terms of the combination of the flavors--the parmasean truffle sauce, to me detracted from the flavor of the scallop.

      the veal was out and out TOUGH.

      the panna was not nearly as good as the panna i was served at hosteria del piccolo (which, i'm told they also own). the panna at hosteria del piccolo was not peach flavored. imho, the peach flavor did nothing to improve the dish and actually diminished it.

      the lobster gnocchi was very good, but no more than that.
      same story with the monkfish. kale, rice, and cream didn't really improve the fish to me.

      my dining partner actually left his garganelli on the plate
      i didn't ask for a report as to why.

      the banana dessert, also beautifully plated, was nothing with nothing.

      in terms of "forking over the real stuff gratis" what are you talking about? is that how you interpret a request for balsamic vinegar to go along with the olive oil that was provided with the bread?
      if that is your meaning, i beg to disagree.

      is that enough detail, linus?
      fwiw, it's painful for me to give a detailed poor review to a restaurant such as this. it was clear that they had put in a lot of work. also, they used expensive, high quality ingredients, yet, the whole thing didn't come together to my palate.

      1. re: westsidegal

        look, man, i only mentioned the vinegar thing because i assumed that was one of your reasons for not returning. i read the rest of the post. cracking good stuff.

        as for "what i was talking about," most balsamic vinegar is really kind of..not balsamic vinegar. it's a mass produced, poor facsimile of the real thing. the real balsamic vinegar of modena, it is my understanding, takes time to make, runs for at least, i don't know, fifty to seventy five bucks (and up) for a teensy bottle.
        so, my thinking is, a) good on the restaurant for not having any of the shitty, industrially made stuff around and b)if they did have what i'm calling "real" balsamic vinegar, they surely wouldn't pour a saucerful for you to dip your bread in, much less for free.

        maybe i'm a fauxbalsamicist, or an anti-fauxbalsamicite. anyways, i obviously misinterpreted your post and did not state my position on this critically vital, or vitally critical, vinegar, or faux vinegar, issue clearly. for that, i'm sorry.

        1. re: linus

          my dining partner would have been willing to pay an up charge.
          we were told that there was no balsamic vinegar in the restaurant.
          the vinegar thing, by itself, did not determine my judgement about the entire meal.

          to me, a detailed review that is not positive, is sort of like "death by a thousand cuts" to the restaurant.
          i try to avoid this unkind type of review. this is why i didn't give a lot of detail the first go around.
          if i'm not going to recommend a place, normally, i intentionally abbreviate my comments, at least initially.
          the vinegar thing, seemed like the most innocuous kind of criticism, that's why i used it.

          the heart of my criticism is that, to me, they didn't succeed when they tried to gild the lily.

          1. re: westsidegal

            people are different. not having balsamic for you was a negative; for me, it's a zero or a positive.

            also, i wasn't asking for more detail, just whether or not the vinegar thang was the dealbreaker.

            my bad.

            1. re: linus

              When olive oil is offered (and in this case served with the bread) isn't it a little strange there's no balsamic in the house?...
              I highly doubt the balsamics in most restaurants are rich and thick, expensive, 1st place winner's usually complimentary balsamic, on the house. Most likely, unless the owner is really into balsamic vinegars and wants to share his love, the vinegar isn't anything of high value so why not keep a few bottles around for those who like it with their bread and olive oil?

              1. re: latindancer

                i don't find it strange at all. i don't know why anyone would keep the cheap balsamic vinegar around.
                certainly, this boite could have offered some other vinegar.
                if we're not careful, we'll plunge headlong into a sort of "why doesn't father's office keep ketchup around?" kinda mikva, and who wants that?

                1. re: linus

                  <kinda mikva, and who wants that?>

                  Why on earth would a restaurant want to please the occasional customer who wants something like ketchup on their hamburger or an 'inauthentic' balsamic with their bread and olive oil...
                  What is this plebeian world coming to? Gawd forbid.

                  1. re: latindancer

                    nope, not going to play this reindeer game.

                    yes, it's a shame everybody doesn't run their business the way i want them to. how dare they?

              2. re: linus

                I assume when westsidegal made the comment about the balsamic vinegar, I thought it was more of a service issue than a quality or taste issue.

                No, the stuff we call "balsamic vinegar" in American isn't "really" balsamic vinegar (at least, not from what I understand). And olive oil + balsamic vinegar isn't something that an actual Italian would ever combine to use as a dip for bread (at least, it wasn't when I traveled in Italy ~9 yrs ago). Our combination of olive oil + vinegar is an American corruption, just like the stuff that's called "teriyaki" here. But I don't think that was the point of her post....

                1. re: ilysla

                  exactly, it was indicative of a service issue.
                  it was more a point about service than a point about food.

                  (keep in mind, i've been at coni'seafood with a group that decided to order salads even though salads aren't on the Coni's menu. coni immediately dispached the prep cook to the grocery store to buy salad makings.
                  as a result of such treatment at a much " lesser" restaurant, maybe i've gotten spoiled)

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    no offense intended, but i think you're exactly right.

                    coni's that day could spare the manpower, they like you personally, it doesn't cost them anything in time or prep, mars was correctly aligned with venus, etc.

                    "lesser" or "greater" doesn't have anything to do with it. if you wanted tony cachere's seasoning to sprinkle on on your eel, i don't think mr. urusawa would dispatch a toadie to run down to the local 7-11 to get you some.
                    that doesn't mean the service at coni's is any better or worse than at urusawa.

                    1. re: linus

                      would take issue with your assumptions that
                      <<it doesn't cost them anything in time or prep>>
                      <<they could spare the manpower>>

                      in fact it was a busy sunday night (normally their busiest night of the week), they only had two people in the kitchen scrambling to take care of the whole restaurant including the tables on the patio, and sending someone out on such a mission completely disrupted whatever rhythm the kitchen had going.

                      keep in mind, they normally offer 4 basic types of dishes and that, in many other restaurants, each type is normally prepared by a chef/cook of it's own:
                      deep fat fried
                      ceviche and cocktails
                      barbeque (zarandeado)

                      for them to send someone out to procure and then prepare an off-menu item was above and beyond the call of duty or the call of service.

                      it was them going the extra mile to keep a regular happy and also because they were hoping that by paying that price they would be able to convert others at the table into regulars.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        1) is it possible some other customers' service was affected by this lettuce run?
                        2) what is the likelihood some other customer would have gotten the lettuce run treatment?

                        1. re: linus

                          since i don't manage their restaurant, there is no way for me to know.

                    2. re: westsidegal

                      The truth is...

                      You're the biggest supporter, of Coni's, from what I've read.
                      You love the food and the service, it appears, is stellar.
                      Isn't it part of the collective that keeps us wanting to come back again and again? Nevermind that you love the owner, the environment and the people that work there.
                      Twenty five years ago, while staying with my family, in an upscale hotel, my then 5 yr. old son wanted a banana late in the evening. They run out of them in the kitchen but we were told they were going to the store to purchase some. Thirty minutes later they were brought to our room with a note of thanks for our staying there. This was service and we've never stayed anywhere else since. I've never forgotten it.
                      One day I've got to try Coni's...your loyalty and love of the place is contagious.

                      1. re: latindancer

                        you're exactly right.
                        they set the bar that night, and by doing so, they have garnered my devotion as a regular.

        2. <parmesan cheese, no matter how high the quality, does little to enhance the flavor of a scallop>

          I actually think cheese detracts from the delicate taste of a well prepared scallop and most other seafood as well. I've never understood why a chef takes the time to figure out which cheese pairs well with a particular seafood. My feeling is...learn to prepare the scallop (which apparently isn't easy for many chefs) and leave it alone.

          2 Replies
          1. re: latindancer

            the saddest thing here is that the scallop itself was well prepared and clearly had not touched the parmesan goop until after it had been prepared.

            they took something close to perfection and degraded it in their attempt to improve it.

            1. re: westsidegal

              Parmesan cheese does no belong on seafood.