Well, that was interesting! My weekly dinner companion and I dined at this new spot in Lincoln, RI, after much anticipation. We had first attempted to eat there last week, but were told at 6:30 on a Tuesday that we'd have to wait at least until 8:00 p.m. Instead, we made reservations to return tonight.
We arrived at 6:20 and found it to be equally as busy as the week before, although it seemed to be much noisier. While waiting the half hour to be seated, I commented to my buddy that, although most of the restaurant was very attractive, there were two areas that seemed to afford less desirable seating - one at the glassed wall looking into the kitchen and the other at the high-tops within the lounge area. Of course, we were seated at the glassed wall. Okay, we'll live with it.
We placed our drink orders - wine for my companion and a martini on the rocks for myself. We were served bread and olive oil - 3 small, but tasty, pieces for the 2 of us...why not 2 or perhaps 4? By the time drinks arrived, we had had the opportunity to determine our selections, so we placed our orders - calamari to split, caeser salad to split, salmon entree for my companion, a tilapia/shrimp entree for myself, with a side of grilled asparagus to split, since the menu was ala carte and nothing was mentioned as being included with the entrees. (Four of the 5 "pesce" entrees featured shrimp.) About 3 sips into our drinks, the calamari, salad AND the entree "side" of asparagus all arrived together. I asked our waitress if it was customary to serve the entree side with the appetizer and salad, and she looked confused and dismayed when we asked her to return it to the kitchen.
Not even half way through our drinks, barely having a chance to touch the salad, and having not even started on the calamari, the waitress returned to inform us that our dinners were ready to be served. We asked her to hold off for a few minutes, commenting that the experience was making us feel extremely rushed. Again she seemed confused by our request. Once dinner arrived, it was okay without being spectacular. The surprise for my companion was the inclusion of mashed potatoes that hadn't been mentioned in the menu description. Unfortunately, we were now subject to the remainder of the evening with an overly-apologetic waitress each time she passed our table.
So now the bill arrives. Now I don't usually over-peruse the bill, but couldn't help but notice the phrase "on the rocks" as it jumped off the page. Yes, in addition to the normal $6.50 for the martini, there was a separate charge of $.50 for the 5 or 6 ice cubes! (Needless to say, when I arrived home, I opened my freezer and bowed to the 10-lb bag of ice therein, thinking it must be roughly equivalent to my retirement fund.) Am I so behind the times that this should come as a surprise? It's ice cubes, for God's sake!
As we were leaving, we stopped at the front desk to ask if they had comment cards available. The hostess, looking somewhat insulted, replied that they had "no need for them as they had been open only since August". Huh? She was so disinterested that she didn't bother to inquire about our dining experience.
Arriving home, I logged on to their website only to find that the "Contact Us" area listed the owner/managers, but did not provide a reply option. Thus, it is necessary to phone or snail mail them with any comments one may have. Interestingly enough, I lingered for a moment to read the bio of Chef Luciano Canova and was struck by the final paragraph: "At Trattoria Romana you will occasionally see Luciano in the dining room, greeting customers and keeping a watchful eye on things. Much to his delight, he has been called upon to HELP (my emphasis) in the kitchen on occasion!. For Luciano, it's all about the food and the people." Excuse me, but if he's "occasionally" in the dining room and "called upon to help in the kitchen on occasion", just what is his function? It certainly doesn't sound as though it's to cook!
Well, rant over. Has anyone else tried this spot? Our final conclusion was that TR is ok to try, but not worth rushing to get there...maybe better to wait until the initial crowd-press dies down.
I'm headed back to my freezer to pay homage to the ice cubes. In the meantime, Alicante in Mendon remains at the top of my list!