I know there have been recent posts about the pleasures of Pastina (on Westwood Blvd, near Pico), but I feel that as a loyal chowhound I should give a report about my recent experience there.
I made a reservation the day before for 8 p.m. When the monkeyboyrfriend and I arrived, I gave my name to the host sitting right in front of the door. He said ok, and then everyone proceeded to ignore us standing in the foyer for the next ten minutes. Two tables were set up and waiting, but nobody seemed interested in seating us. Eventually, we were waved over.
The food itself was unexceptional--we shared an appetizer of proscuitto and a creamy mild Italian cheese, and then two seafood pastas. Everything tasted fine, but we could tell that while the owner and the staff were genuine Italian, the food had been tamed for American palates. Red sauce, spaghetti, all the stuff from 1970s Italian dining.
But it was the service that had the mbf and I determined not to come back. It was glacial. The owner of the restaurant sat at a customer's table to our right, chatting on like old friends. On the other side was a long table filled with several families, and the waiter (our waiter, too) cooed over the little girls, saying that he'd known them since they were this high, etc. Meanwhile, we were rushed through our food, never offered a glass of wine, nobody came around to refill our water glasses until well after we had finished the meal, and right after our dinner plates were cleared, the waiter appeared, saying, "That's all for you guys?" (the implication being, "Get the hell out") Even though we weren't really in the mood, we asked about dessert. As an afterthought, a cart with tiramisu was rolled by. We paid and left quickly, going to get some frozen yogurt on the corner and walking past the window of Pastina defiantly with our dessert.
Many posters have been pleased as punch with the service and neighborhood feel of Pastina. We found that we were not members of the club, and so were left to our own devices. A neighborhood place should not make you work to feel comfortable. We decided that we didn't want to expel the effort, and will not be going back again.
I hate to be a negative monkey, but chowhounds must report the bad as well as the good.
We'll be going to Pizzicotto for our friendly Italian neighborhood spot from now on (always sitting on the second floor).