Last night we went to dinner at Ciaos. Two of us had the sea scallops wrapped in New York steak, one had the lobster ravioli and one had the shrimp scampi. We preceded this with caesar salads and followed up with the Mt. Suveus chocolate cake to share. The food was very good. However, when we arrived we were told there wasn't a table available (they don't take reservations) and we could take a seat at the wine bar even though we could see that there was an empty booth. We ordered a bottle of wine and thanks to the bar tender we were finally seated at a very poor table right by the front door. The bartender could see that we were not happy and he suggested we be seated at an empty booth (not the one that was empty when we came in). We placed our orders, had to ask for water, was served no bread of any kind with our salads, had no one check on us throughout our meal except to bring us our food. The empty booth stayed empty during the entire time we were in the restaurant.
In contrast we went to Rombi's last week. They take reservations and when we arrived we were greeted warmly, taken to our table and immediately served water and a very nice bread basket. A complimentary appetizer (bruchetta) was served and our waiter took our order. Every entree comes with soup and salad and we enjoyed the chef's canneloni. The food, wine and dessert were very good. The chef came around and smoozed with the patrons, the staff was very attentive but not overbearing and all in all a very delightful evening.
My question is why is Rombi's struggling so (I don't think he's going to make it) and Ciao's seems to be doing well? It doesn't make sense to me. Both chefs seem to be good. Rombi's menu is more Northern Italian whereas Ciaos does have a few non-Italian dishes. The only advantage that Ciaos seems to have in my opinion is that the room is decorated better. Rombi's is definitely a strip mall whereas Ciaos has tried to make it a little warmer.