Had a truly terrible experience at Villa Piacere last night. My dad and stepmom are visiting LA from out of town and staying in Somis. So they asked me to recommend a place in Woodland Hills for dinner. Remember a good meal that I had eaten at Villa Piacere a few years ago, I thought that would be a good option.
What a mistake.
The meal actually started off okay. Although it took awhile to get bread, it was good and the garlicky olive oil dip is very tasty. We ordered two plates of pancetta-wrapped shrimp. They were tasty, albeit a mite overcooked, and came on a very tasty base of spinach, onions, and garlic.
When the main courses came, my sea bass was perfectly cooked and my stepmother enjoyed her salmon. After that, however, the mains were disastrous.
My friend's duck was horribly overcooked. It was a dull gray color, completely dry, and tasteless. My brother's steak, which was supposed to be rare to medium rare, was well done. He sent it back.
And then there was my father's lamb shank. Well, there would have been my father's lamb shank if it had arrived at the table.
We waited. And waited. We flagged down an expeditor. We finally located our waiter. His response: "That's the third order the kitchen has screwed up." Gee, that's good to know.
15 minutes later, the lamb shank finally appeared. My dad took one bite and pronounced it tasteless. I took a bite. It actually was cooked okay, but tasted like a mystery meat in a Swanson's frozen dinner.
A few minutes later, my brother's new steak arrived. This time, it was very rare. The waiter insisted that it was "rare to medium rare," but it was much more on the rare side. So it went back. By the time it came back properly cooked, most of us had finished our meals. (As a caveat, my brother did say the steak was pretty good.)
All the time this was going on, the waiter was bitching about the kitchen. Towards the end of the dinner, the manager came over. He apologized for the food, told us that it was "unacceptable" and "changes would be made." He then asked each of us how our items were. When my friend told him that the duck was overcooked, the manager grabbed the half-eaten plate and announced (not asked) he would bring a new one. By that time, it was way too late. My friend told him not to bother.
We debated skipping dessert, but it was the best part of the meal. The flourless chocolate cake was actually excellent (and I'm generally not a fan). It came with a mocha mousse in a chocolate cup that was equally excellent (I normally hate chocolate mousse). The creme brullee and chocolate raspberry case also were good.
So after the bad food, missed items, the repeated apologies, and even the acknowledgment that our dinner was "unacceptable," you might think the restaurant would comp at least one of the entrees. Nope. I don't normally expect restaurants to comp items, but I was pretty shocked since the manager had been involved.
Perhaps Villa Piacere will make the changes they promised but, trust me, we will not be back to check them out.
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