Chef Vola's Atlantic City
A Sad Disappointment
I was absolutely thrilled and delighted when I last ate at Chef Vola's four years ago. Every selection was superbly prepared, well seasoned and serve at optimum temperature.
So it was with great anticipation and even though the best reservation time I could get was 9:30PM, I was excited to again be dining at Vola's . I could not have been more wrong.
It started poorly and went downhill from there. The 9:30PM reservation became 10:20PM. The house salad was warm, instead of fresh and crisp, it was overly dressed and clearly the kitchen ran out of pepperoni, provolone cheese and peppercornichi's that adorn this course.
When it came to the entrees, 2 our of 5 selections were spot on with the crab cake and shrimp and sea bass superbly prepared. That's where it ended. The chicken scarpiello tasted like warmed up left overs, drenched in warm oil and butter while the temp of the underlying entree was cool.
Then came the signature veal. One guest had the Veal Milanese, again it was cold as if it was prepared and in the holding area for 10 to 15 minutes, lacking the tomatoes which apparently ran out with our salad. The veal parm again tasted like it was hanging around to be picked up 15 minute before it was served.
All and all a great disappointment. Clearly, this is what you'd expect get and pay for at Olive Garden and Chef Vola's.
Actually had dinner there last night. Had an 8:45 reservation and was seated around 9:20. Had a nice table near the kitchen. We ordered the crab cake as an appetizer which was delicious. Then a pasta trio came out: penne with: vodka sauce, clam sauce, and meat sauce. The pasta was SO overdone is was mushy, and frankly, the sauces were less that so so. From a red sauce place like this, there is no excuse for terrible pasta. To be fair, they did take it off the check. For dinner we shared their famous bone in veal parm, which did not disappoint at all. We finished dinner with their semi frozen banana creme pie which was good as well. The service was very, very spotty. All in all, we had a good time. Would we rush back there again, probably NOT!! It was all right.
Chef Vola's is a disaster waiting to happen. The rest. is in the basement down a split level stairwell. The space is very cramped and always busy. The ceiling is low so it's very claustrophobic. If they ever had a fire you would never stand a chance. I'm far from an alarmist but I can't imagine how they pass inspection. They must be grandfathered.This is a major concern from folks familiar with the space. My parents love the place but won't go again.
So put on your fire resistant suit and order the bone-in veal parmesan. It's not on the menu but always a special. I'm not a dessert fan but their desserts are a must.
It's our favorite restaurant anywhere, but I absolutely see claustrophobia and body contact with the folks at the next table being a turn-off for some (for us it's part of the charm).
They definitely aren't getting a "pass" on the fire code--for starters, the front door is NOT the only exit.
Neither claustrophobia nor fear for your safety should be allowed to detract from what should be a great dining experience. If you still have concerns, ask for porch seating when you make your reservation and fuggedaboutit.
I like it, very much. Haven't been there is several years. The people who don't like it or the critics will say the buzz about the place is just that -- buzz -- about it being in the basement of a home, the old stories about it being a "secret" and so on.
I've been there numerous times and again, I like it. The food has always been very good, a lot of flavor, tastes, etc. Family owned and operated, small, BYO, tough to get into for the most part, and an interesting experience.
Something you should certainly try once. LOL. Enjoy.