I had the unfortunate opportunity to eat lunch today at Pastori's in Elllington, CT. I happened to be up that way to watch my daughter skydive, and was otherwise unfamiliar with the area. After the dive, (all went well) we asked one of the instructors if there was a good place nearby for lunch and he recommended Pastori's. He said he had never eaten there, but they had recently sent some food over and the veal was "real."
That sounded fine, so six of us went there around 1 p.m. We should have known when we walked in and saw that the place was empty at lunchtime on a Saturday, it was not a good sign.
I noticed a signed picture of Robert Irvine at the cash register and after we were seated I asked the server about it. She said the restaurant had recently been re-designed by Irvine for his show Restaurant Impossible (expected airdate Aug. 5), which attempts to makeover a distressed restaurant in the course of a weekend.
Message to Mr. Irvine: Mission failed.
Food Fail: Our server said the whole menu had been revamped and streamlined. Loving all things braised, I decided to order one of the weekend specials - pork osso buco. The rest ordered a turkey club sandwich, chicken parm wrap, philly cheese steak wrap, and two buffalo chicken wraps.
In order of least bad to wretched: The buffalo chicken wraps were pronounced okay. The turkey club was deemed a C-, dry, borderline fresh-old turkey. The chicken parm wrap was in fact eggplant and the server apologized and said she would bring the proper one. The eggplant parm wrap was full of green peppers which I think were canned. I had a bite of the chicken parm when it arrived and it was awful. Again, just chock full of green peppers and the sauce wasn't Italian tasting in the least. I can't even say what it was except awful tasting. Only a few bites were taken from each wrap.
The Philly Cheese Steak was inedible. My daughter nearly broke a tooth trying to bite into the dried out too hard bread and tough as nails cheap steak. Again, this sandwich was loaded with peppers, and barely any cheese or onions. She left it on her plate with one bite out of it.
The very worst dish was the pork osso buco. It was a dried out hamhock like thing. Braised? I don't think so. Zero moisture. I ordered the gravy on the side and it was congealed and gloopy like thick jelly. I tasted it and it was clearly from a jar. In a word - disgusting. I sent it back. And the server immediately said, it's dry isn't it? I said, yes. She apologized for the osso buco and the wrong wrap and said the kitchen was really off that day. I didn't want to keep our party waiting so I asked for a small tossed salad. It was a crappy thing.
Even the water was bad. It had a funny, chemically off taste.
Service: Our server was a personable young lady, prone to long lapses off the floor. Two women came in after we were seated and waited about 10 minutes before the server showed up back on the floor. When the server came back, another three people had walked in and she showed them to a table, ignoring the two women. Finally she walked by the women who asked if they could have a table and told her they had been waiting 10 minutes. They were shown a table, promptly brought (blech) water and after another 10 minutes with the server MIA, they got up and walked out (never even given menues). Can't say I blame them. Other than a quick apology for the wrap and osso buco nothing else was said to us. Server never asked about the rest of the food. Overall - poor.
Atmosphere: Clearly the Irvine team did a nice job sprucing the place up. It was bright and cheerful. But even here, there were issues. The booths had been recovered in fabric but on one of them the fabric had come loose and was unraveling. I doubt anyone noticed or cared.
A facelift can only do so much for a place. Unless the kitchen is willing to serve decent food, forget it. I must say though, I'll be tuning in Aug. 5 to see how this one goes down.