Went to Branzino for the first time Friday night. I was aware of the front room/back room issue but did not intend to ask one way or the other. However, when we walked in the hostess pointed to the two-top right by the front door. I immediately said "I am NOT going to sit at that table," in my best Gloria Vanderbuilt voice. There were two other two tops by the window that were empty, so I saw no reason to sit right in front of the door where every single person coming and going would brush by and it was freezing outside. The hostess went away for a minute, then came back and seated us at a two-top upstairs. So far so good.
The waiter came over right away, opened our wine and told us the specials. About 10 minutes went by before we got our bread. The bread was good, warm and crusty. About 10 minutes later the waiter came to take our order. At least 20 minutes went by before we got our appetizers: mussels in a light garlic marinara and arugula salad. Both were very good. I don't normally like mussels out but these were fresh and properly cooked in a good sauce. But we had eaten the bread waiting for our apps so we needed more for the mussel sauce. We had to ask both the waiter and the busboy several times before the basket finally arrived. Another 10-15 minute wait for our mains.
The whole branzino in a buerre blanc was presented tableside and then filleted and served. The fish was good and fresh and the sauce was good, although it had cooled a bit by the time it got to me. We also ordered the ravioli special with broccoli rabe in a light tomato sauce. Lovely pasta, fillng and sauce. We did enjoy both.
For dessert we shared a trio of creme brulee, which were OK but soupy. From a food standpoint this was the only place dinner fell down, and not horribly but not worth ordering again.
Overall we were quite pleased with our food, although the service just did not measure up. The guy pouring the wine was very attentive, but the rest of the staff was not. In addition to interminable waiting throughout the evening with never a mention that the food was on the way or would be out soon, at no time did any of the waitstaff ask us how our food was or whether we needed anything. Luckily we didn't.
It's amazing how just a little service, or so little service in this instance, can really affect your impresstion of a restaurant. I'd probably go back, but not right away.
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