Monday, March 12, 2012

Communication is Key- DC Pasta

Last Saturday, "R" and I joined Michelle and her boyfriend at D.C. Pasta Company in Strongsville. Located in the old Palate space, Dante Boccuzzi's newly opened restaurant was pretty full at 7PM- but we had a reservation and were seated right away. We were left with the menus, and we started to map out our meal. The menu is broken into several categories, including: Starters, Marinated Stuff, Olives, Cheese/Meats, Main Dishes, Meatballs, Desserts...and then the star- Pastas. Diners are encouraged to try many items. The menu offers different quantities of the olives, cheese/meats, and marinated stuff, including individual meatballs and three sizes of pasta. I knew that it was going to be tough to choose, so I focused on the drinks first. Immediately, I was pleased to see that they offer 25 Wines Under $25 on their menu. "R" and I ordered a bottle, and started to select our meal to share.

This is where the night started to turn. As I mentioned, we were seated right away and our drink order was placed not too long afterwards. But then we waited 36 minutes before our server appeared at our table again to take our food order. We watched as she came to the table next to ours three times during this time period, and (I felt) purposely kept her back to us so that we couldn't grab her attention. Our water glasses went empty, and we finished our cocktails before she finally approached us to order. Instead of apologizing for the wait, she simply said "Are you ready?" Holding back, Michelle said "Yes, we've actually been ready for a while now." Her response, full of attitude- "Well, you have to be patient with the kitchen tonight, it's really busy." Huh? Last time I checked, that could account for food arriving at the table slowly, but not you ignoring us and letting our drinks run out. But, I wish that it had stopped there. Her attitude worsened. As a dish was mispronounced when ordering, she proceeded to throw insult. We were shocked.

Her service and attitude just became comical, and thankfully provided us with entertainment for the rest of the evening. Her name was Rebecca. But let's move on to the food, because that's why we were really there. Here is the meal that "R" and I split:

Funghi Al Forno- oven roasted mushrooms $7.Pappardelle Alla Bolognese- ragu of beef, veal, pork, and tomatoes.Gnocchetti Sardi Verdi E Blu- spinach pasta, walnuts, Gorgonzola cream sauce.Lumache E Polipo- toasted garlic, snails, octopus, parsley, chile flakes, and broccoli.Agnello- lamb meatball.Ricotta- ricotta cheese meatball.I can generalize the dishes, because for the most part we felt the same about all of them. The mushroom appetizer was earthy, and included a couple of different types of mushrooms that were cooked well. It was certainly good, but not overly impressive in flavor or creativity. The meatballs are served individually, and are a decent size for $1.50 each. The meat of the lamb meatball was seasoned well, but the ricotta cheese meatball was cold in the center when it was served. Each meatball was served with a watery and bland red sauce, which became a reoccurring theme that night.

We chose the $5 "Taste" portion for each of the three pastas we tried, which provided each of us with two generous bites. The Lumache was our favorite, with the Bolognese sauce being our least favorite. Each of the pastas were cooked well, and I appreciated that there was such variety of styles on the menu. However, all four of us determined that anything served with a red sauce was very light and flavorless.

With tasting six dishes, I think we walked away with a good sense of the current menu. The sauces need some work, but they certainly know pasta and there is room for improvement overall as they settle in. With Dante and Ginko under his belt, we all see that Boccuzzi knows how to run a successful, and tasty, restaurant.

Now done with our meal, we were still left with a sour taste in our mouth about the service. We did not see a manager floating in the dining room that evening, and there was no one at the hostess stand when we left. So I did something that I've never done before- I emailed the restaurant to share our experience. I've never felt that anything was so bad that it was worth passing on to management before, but this experience was. I believe that my email was polite, and simply outlined our perspective on what happened that night. I used the email address provided on the website, and within 24 hours- Dante himself emailed me a very gracious and appropriate reply. He offered his apologies, and a gift certificate for a return visit.

Lesson is, communication is key. On both ends. If Rebecca had simply apologized for the wait and explained that they were busy and still getting their feet wet at the new restaurant (and also lost the attitude), our dinner would have been a completely different experience. Also, if you do have issues that you feel are worth sharing, then contact management appropriately. In the age of Twitter, Facebook, Urbanspoon, blogs, etc., sometimes we forget. All in all, the situation was handled properly. Even though we walked away not being impressed with the food, I do look forward to a return visit once they've settled in a bit more. They have already started to make changes within weeks of opening, and that shows that they are open to improvement.

D.C. Pasta Company
12241 Pearl Road
Strongsville, OH 44136


Sara said...

Having to complain about service can be so awkward but sometimes it is definitely necessary. I had a similar experience with bad service at Michaelangelo's (although the food was AMAZING!). I called to voice my frustration and was placated to but never heard back from the General Manager. Glad to hear you got a better response from Dante himself- I loved my experience at his restaurant in Tremont and looking forward to trying DC Pasta!

Amanda @ Clue Into CLE said...

I think I saw Michelle's tweet about the experience, so I'm glad to read the full details on what happened. I applaud you for keeping cool at the restaurant -- I would have not shown that much restraint.

I had been really excited to make the drive out to D.C. (if I had to choose one meal to eat the rest of my life it would be pasta), but the tweet kind of dampened that desire.

Now that I've read about Dante's gracious and appropriate response to your email, I am back to wanting to check them out. Hopefully the waitstaff was just having an off day (not that that behavior was at all excusable) or improves by the time I go in.

Thanks for sharing that experience, as well as the outcome of it!

Crystal @EatDrinkClev said...

No matter how good the food is, bad service will ruin an evening out for sure. Our service was not surly, just slow. My post was positive because I felt that my group may have contributed to the waiter thinking we wanted to be there all night. But I really enjoyed the food - we ordered a ton of stuff but not much of our order overlapped with yours amazingly. Really happy that Dante addressed it properly (not really surprised - he is great!)

All Lacquered Up said...

I agree that communication is key which is why I'm left wondering why no responded to the email I sent about our experience. Yes we were at the same table but we're not the same person so I'm curious why my email was ignored. That's as disappointing as the red sauce and my freezer burned shrimp that was. cooked within an inch of its life

alexa @clevelandsaplum said...

i'm glad you reached out to them, and i'm glad you got a response. silly rebecca didn't know who she was serving :)

this was also a really well written post, btw. get it girl.