I hadn't been to Bellavitae in a while and when I found myself at an EV station in the rain at 5 yesterday I decided to go down, figuring it was early enough for me to find a seat at the bar, get a drink and some of their fabulous chicken liver crostini and further explore the menu. When I walked in there were lots of staff around including several chatting at the front bar but no hostess. I stood there for a bit, along with another party who had entered right in front of me, but no one came so I went to the back and interrupted another knot of staff to ask if I might seat myself at the back bar. A hostess emerged and asked how many I was and I said one, and after hesitating a moment she said, sure, I will get you a menu right away.
At this point there were only 2 other people at the bar, a father and son. Another couple is seated almost simultaneously and consider their menus. I am asked about water. Water is brought. Couple ask the waiter for a recommendation for a glass of wine. Prompting explanation of quartinos and How Our Menu Works and lengthy q & a about treviso, bottarga, Sicilian olive oil and on and on. Meanwhile I am watching a score of staff mill around and the menu lady has disappeared entirely. Eventually some one notices me and asks if I have been given a menu. How Our Menu Works comes around now with a menu and wine list and asks if I am waiting for some one. I say no for the second time. He asks me to move to another seat at the bar explaining that people might want to sit together in the seat I could vacate and that adjoining. No such people have presented themselves (nor do they throughout the evening) but I relocate without objection, while he returns to finish his conversation with the couple adjacent. I flag him down as he eventually breezes past again and ask if he or some one might take my drink order. I request a wine and the 'crostini toscani', as the chicken liver crostini are listed on the menu. He asks me again, and I repeat 'crostini toscani'. Mind, at this point, I have been seated for at least 15 minutes.
Couple next to me receives drinks, food. My wine comes soon thereafter. Father and son receive their second order. By now maybe 5 tables in the entire place have been seated. At least a half hour has passed from the time I arrived.
I am tapped from behind. Ma'am, here are your crostini with four cheeses. And a plate with huge sopping sponges of cheese drenched bread are set before me. I say: I ordered the crostini toscani. Guy looks blank and I say, chicken livers. He picks up the plate and says, you want chicken livers? ok, no problem. I say there may in fact be a problem; I ordered the crostini toscani; is that the order you have? He walks away. I notice a bit of a dust-up at the end of the bar and then see him walking to the front of the restaurant to re-present the plate he had placed in front of me to an unwitting couple at another table.
About the same time I see the father call the How Our Menu Works guy over to say that they have been given still rather than the sparkling water they ordered. HOMW asks if he would like it to be replaced, and father says, if it is not too much trouble.
Here comes cheese bread guy again with a plate assorted bruschetta, including one with chicken livers and a one with cheese. This is the one with chicken livers, he says as he puts it down before me.
I ordered crostini toscani. Chicken livers. I point it out on the menu. Crostini toscani. Bruschetta with chicken livers. 'Ok, no problem'. By now, some 45 minutes since I arrived, it is definitely a problem.
HOMW shows up again and apologizes, saying he misunderstood my order. There is nothing on the menu that sounds remotely like crostini toscani. And I had both repeated the order and specified 'chicken livers' just in case.
At length I receive 4 disks smeared with chicken liver pate. I wish I could say they were worth the wait. Instead they were oily and too finely pureed and not what I had remembered and looked forward to and trekked down from the upper east side in a storm to enjoy.
HOMW comes by to ask what else I would like and I say I am considering next course then as I do I decide I had better cut my losses and after another 10 minutes am able to catch his eye and ask for the check. I give him 2 twenties for a $24 bill and he asks if I want change. When I say I do, he returns with a 10 and a 5 and I have to ask for change for the 5 as I am not prepared to leave 20 per cent on entire tab including wine (as I generally do. Though am trying to get more comfortable with calculating tip on food).
I am asked on the way out how I enjoyed the meal and here I am at fault for responding 'fine' but at this point I just wanted to get out.
Awfully disappointed. I had been very impressed on previous visits. I can't help wondering if there is new management?