Restaurants & Bars 44

Pizzaiolo -- pah!

fred the fish | Aug 14, 2005 11:55 AM

Precipice and I went to Pizzaiolo again last night. We met our friends and their infant daughter. We arrived at 5:30 were seated by 5:40. We left at 7:30. Why a two hour dinner? Did we luxuriate in several courses, including dessert?

No. Of course not. We were hostage to Pizzaiolo's incomprehensible timing and incompetent floor staff.

This is our third visit to this upscale pizza place on Telegraph and it is likely my last. I will not suggest it as a destination again; I'll stick to Dopo, thanks. Dopo, where the pasta is perfectly al dente with savory ragu and never served in questionable order and I'm not stuck waiting forever for something to happen.

We waited for more than 10 minutes (yes, I kept time) for our waiter, any waiter, to come by. We were given water, and eventually the wonderful bread (from a Sebastopol bakery whose name escapes me) and creamy butter. Our waiter dropped by and said he'd be back. We asked a few questions about sauces (americiana is a tomato sauce) and special dishes. He came back, we ordered. A Caesar and margherita for our friends; rocketbox lettuces followed by the gnocchi (silken, they were) and a margherita as well.

I'll bring out the salads first, he asked. Yes, I answered, we're sharing the other dishes.

The gnocchi arrived not long after the wine. I, confused, asked the waiter if he meant for us to have the gnocchi. Of course! he answered. Then our friends' Caesar arrived.

We ate, we waited.



At 7pm, still no pizza. Charlie's really backed up, he said.

I inquired after the salad. Oh! the salad! he said. No wonder you asked about the pasta. Would you like it now?

No. Please take it off the bill.

The pizzas arrived separately. The crust and sauce, always good.

Here's the thing, I know I'm a service industry butthead. Too many years of waiting tables. I worked at a local restaurant that gets mediocre marks because it isn't hip enough yet it has a line out the door and regulars I say hello to when I see them on the street. Pizzaiolo gets props because it is a beautiful restaurant. The food, when you get it, is often lovely. But the overall experience of the restaurant leaves me scratching my head. Why do people wait to sit in a restaurant that, by the virtue of how it is run, apparently doesn't care whether they come back or not? It does not cater to the families who come in early with their children (though bless the sous chef who always comes out to say hello to the babies she spots). it does not cater to folks who want to eat in any particular order or time.

Apparently this month's San Francisco magazine ranked it on its top 50 spots in the bay. I don't think that Pizzaiolo earns that mark. A restaurant is not just food, it is service. Often, service outstrips the food. Great service will bring people back to a less than great food experience. Bad service will turn them off. Pizzaiolo's consistently bad service has turned me off. I'll spend my money and my Saturday night elsewhere.

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