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Rialto = boo!

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We have wanted to eat at Rialto ever since seeing Jody Adams on Top Chef Masters. We ate in the bar. There was only one waiter working the bar area and he was rushed and distracted at best. We ordered:

Me (vegan):
CHICKPEA PASTA: peppers, eggplant, chickpeas, garlic, and saffron ($26). The pasta itself was interesting. My hubby didn't care for the texture, but I thought it was fine. What wasn't fine was the total BLANDNESS of the dish. It was boring, boring, boring. Since the pasta essentially had no taste, the sauce needed to be peppy, complex, and incredibly flavorful. It was not. I ate 2 bites and declared the dish not even worth eating. I think this is only the second time in my life that I have ever not eaten a dish that I have ordered. What a shame, especially at this price point ($26).

Him (vegetarian):
PAN ROASTED BROCCOLI: evoo, pecorino ($5) = good.
SEARED ENDIVE: pomegranate, honey ($5) = awesome.
VEGGIE PENNE: mushrooms, brussel sprouts, squash, kale pesto, parmesan cream ($14) = mediocre. Also, incredibly boring (snore!). My hubby described this dish as "pasta 101" and we both agreed that we make penne better at home.

The dishes were dropped off by someone other than our waiter and our waiter only returned to our table when it was time for the bill. We were never served dinner rolls with our meal and when I asked him about this, he told me that he could bring us some. At this point, we were already long done with dinner and plotting what other restaurant we would go to so that I could get something to eat.

If you are vegetarian, my advice would be to order off the Antipasti menu. If you are vegan, I suggest you go elsewhere.

We did see Jody Adams in person so that was pretty cool!

I have been trying to transition to a vegan diet and have been finding this REALLY difficult in Boston. I do not expect restaurants to have tons of choices for me to choose from, but I do expect the 1 or 2 choices they do have to be palatable. Particularly at a place the caliber of Rialto.

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  1. What was the reaction when you sent back your meal?

    1 Reply
    1. re: johndory

      There are 3 reasons we did not speak up about my dish/send it back:

      1) After taking our order the waiter was not seen again until the end of the meal to clear our dishes and deliver the bill. I would have had to get up during the meal and track him down which would have been uncomfortable/awkward. Traditionally, a waiter comes by 5-10 minutes after a meal is served to "check in" and see if anything else is needed. I might have asked for some salt or additional seasonings if he had. As he was clearing our plates, he asked how we enjoyed our meal. My husband said, "Some of it was good," and we both frowned at my (still full) pasta dish. The waiter did not inquire further. He looked as if he understood that I did not like my dish and did not ask me if I wanted to take the leftovers home.

      2) I don't think my post "trashes" the restaurant. We just didn't care for the pasta there. My husband enjoyed his antipasti just fine and while he found his pasta to also be bland, did eat it.

      3) My husband is MORTIFIED of any type of verbalized criticism while we are eating out. He would NEVER send a dish back EVER. When I told him about this post, he said, "They didn't mess the dish up in any way (e.g. overcook it or undercook it), it was just a shitty dish." And by "shitty" he means, not to our taste. Does one send something back simply because hey don't care for it? In my husband's opinion, you just suck it up, pay the $26, and call it a day. Just because it was not to my liking doesn't mean that it is not to someone else's.

      Cheers.

    2. I'm sorry you had that experience. I'm a huge fan of Jody Adams, but I'd pick Trade over Rialto any day. I've never had a memorable meal at Rialto -- and would echo your bland criticism. I've sometimes wondered if the flavors are dumbed down for the hotel-dining palate.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Swankalicious

        You're a huge fan of Jody Adams despite never having had a memorable meal at the restaurant she's helmed for the last 20 years?

        1. re: Gabatta

          post does make clear they prefer trade, so presumably either they a. have had a memorable meal there or b. take memorable to be a very high standard (as opposed to simply a solid place you enjoy going) or c. its entirely ok to like a chef for reasons other than their putting together a memorable meal (mission, values, etc.)

          1. re: Gabatta

            Yup. I think she's a dynamic woman involved in important causes. I think she uses her local influence for good. And I think she's doing great things at Trade. But, no, I have never had a memorable meal at Rialto.

          2. re: Swankalicious

            So cool seeing celebrity chefs! I'm dying to try blue dragon just to get a glimpse of Ming!

            My experiences at Trade have been quite disappointing but I did get to see Jody schmoozing Mayor Manino which was awesome ;(

          3. "The dishes were dropped off by someone other than our waiter"

            There's a common division of labor in fine dining. Your server will take your drink order, drop by after you received each course to see if there's anything you need, offer dessert and after dinner drinks, and bring your check. A runner will bring your meals from the kitchen, and a busser will bring bread, refill water, etc.

            Sorry you had a bad experience!