Everyone just wants a good plate of pasta. Having dinner earlier in the week in Little Italy left me with hope, and when I went out with a few friends last Sunday, we were hoping for the best; a good plate of pasta. I have never understood why restaurants continue to screw up this classic, simple, easy dish. Tomato sauce, or olive oil, cream or pesto; everyone just wants a simple, good pasta. We ventured into Langolino, on Clinton, just north of College street, thinking that this mid priced bistro, with no table cloths, and a waiter with his shirt un-tucked would be a good bet for a good, casual pasta.
Being an ex-waiter, I notice things that others might not notice or care about. The mis-matched water glasses, something I would never put up with if I had a restaurant, didn’t bother me here. Even the casual treatment of our wine didn’t faze me, after all, we are here for a simple plate of pasta. I sipped a Stiegl while my companions started on the wine, and we perused the menu.
I can never understand bulky menus; and less so when the dishes seem almost the same with tiny differences; but I ordered what I wanted, pasta, with mussels in a white wine sauce to start, and started into the late-coming bread with gusto.
My mussels were typical but tasty. Overcooked, but as so few know how to cook seafood, we can let it go. The same went for the Caesar salad, across from me--not great but not bad--but the problems started with the roasted veggies. A confused mass of pre-roasted peppers and zucchini; slopped onto a plate with greens, warm on the outside and cold in the middle betrayed the ‘grab from the fridge and toss onto the grill’ treatment of a possibly seldom ordered appetizer. If it doesn’t sell, it should be taken off the menu rather than afforded this embarrassing treatment. They were picked at and ultimately left.
The wait between the appetizers and mains was approaching critical when the waiter returned to the table. One guest wanted the salmon on the prix fixe, but a la carte, and ordered it so, indicating that any price charged would be fine. Now, 30 minutes after the appetizers were cleared, the waiter approached, clarified the makeup of the dish, and left, embarrassing the guest when he could have just checked the menu. ‘so you want the salmon with shrimp? From the prix fixe? Because the prix fixe has changed from time to time’ It had been made fairly clear when ordered, but the waiter then checked the menu, and confirmed that we were, indeed correct that the salmon came with shrimp. Phew; glad we weren’t wrong or he would have been the last one laughing.
The mains came, the salmon overcooked, the pasta overcooked, the sausage tasting like it had been overcooked the day before, and the hilarious difference between the ‘two best pastas on the menu’ (according to the waiter) being chicken for capers. I gave up on my sausage, capers , mushrooms and tomato cream fettuccini, a tasteless mass of starch, 1/3rd or the way through, while my companions made their way through ½ of the pasta. We assured the waiter that everything was fine but we were full, a tragic but necessary lie, with the knowledge that the owner will read this review if s/he has any desire to improve their food and service.
To top things off, the bill, $140 with wine, had a small ‘suggest gratuity’ written in on the bottom. Flabbergasted, I asked my companions of they had ever seen that on a party of less than 6. Of course they hadn’t. I gave him exactly the $21 he asked for, though as a former waiter I usually tip 20-25% after tax. It almost seemed like everyone there had given up at some point. We left, and will not return.