I've noticed that Pierluigi receives very good reviews from some people, and rather poor reviews from others. I'm curious to know if this has more to do with the restaurant (different treatment for different clients) or with the reviewers (unrealistic expectations, inability to appreciate what is not familiar, etc.). Any opinions?
The one in Rome, you mean? I don't know everyone's reasons, but for me it is an upscale restaurant (prices, atmosphere) that serves subpar quality fish and sells wines that are just big names but do not really go well with the dishes (completely overpowering, for example). I hear the cocktails are very good, though (i don't care for them).
Weekday lunch at Pierluigi was long a perk for Italian and European bureaucrats. Early supper was the domain of tourists. My vacation rental is closeby so over the years I see the ebb and flow. This year, the bureaucrats were fewer and the early diners not necessarily a sure thing.
In short, Pierluigi, as a food destination, has been coasting for some time and may now have to up their game. The economy stinks and strong measures may be in order. We'll see.
I'm one of the people who gave a mostly negative review last summer (2012) and it was related to poor service for my table, while other tables around us dominated the serving staff. I was also displeased with the level of service received when we did actually get the server's attention.
When I combined the service with the average quality of the food I found the experience completely underwhelming. The ambiance of the court yard was very nice but it could not cover the lapses in service or average food.
I'm quite familiar with Italian cuisine and have travelled extensively in Italy over the years. My point of reference and comparison was with other recent high end restaurant (Geranium, La Degustation, Anna Sacher, etc...) experiences in Europe.
We had dinner there last summer. They had a new menu that was wonderful and we had a great dinner with perfect service. We have been dining there for years as we visit Rome every summer. We certainly plan on eating there again in July. They have always gone out of their way to make us feel wecome.
It is mostly about personal preference I think.
I am in the I love PierLuigi camp. With my experience being consistently high quality food and service.
I had lunch there about 10 days ago on one of the first warm roman spring days. The service was excellent, the fish incredibly fresh and impeccably cooked and the setting elegant and relaxing.
I"m a Pierluigi fan. And have been for about 30 years or so. It's changed over the years, getting a bit more upscale, and certainly more expensive. But I think the quality of the food and service justify it. They have several dishes that are some of my favorites in Rome (including a divine risotto di scamp and their unique insalata catalana).
I have to say that it's my go to place for a summer evening in the piazza. I don't know of a prettier and more pleasant location than Piazza Ricci on a summer evening.
The only time I ate at Pierluigi it was because I had sprained my foot and happened to be staying across the street. I couldn't hobble very far! It was dead of winter, so no chance to eat outdoors and be charmed by the setting --- although I will say I found the interior of Pierluigi exceptionally warm and becoming. I remember it as one of the nicest restaurant interiors I have ever experienced -- both sophisticated and yet conveying old-school hospitality at the same time.
I had no complaints about the high quality of ingredients of my Sunday lunch and the preparation of the food. I can see why business people take clients to this restaurant. Everything seemed solid, if not exactly daring. I chose a modest white Sicilian wine to go with my Sunday lunch, and it was fine.
I do remember a post on Chowhound where someone who was very happy with their meal at Pierluigi related how they enjoyed a red Barolo with their fishy meal, and the Chowhounders went wild with disapproval -- but the poster kept insisting he was quite happy with everything about his experience at Pierluigi, especially since he had asked for help in choosing a strong red, which was the only kind of wine he liked. I think it is to Pierluigi's credit they went with the customer's palate.
All that said, I personally wouldn't return to Pierluigi, now that my foot has totally recovered. Meals at other Roman eateries may be less consistently reliable and more of a crap shoot, but I personally prefer something closer to soulful home-cooking than consistently well-executed restaurant cooking.