Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 1, 2014

Stylish but terrible

I don’t often write negative things about places I go, I prefer to just not write anything, but in some cases I think people need to be warned.

On a recent trip to Rome I spotted an interesting looking restaurant in Via dei Coronari, not far from the Piazza Navona. It is one of my favourite streets in Rome, lined with interesting shops and stylish cafes and restaurants. I vowed to return on my next visit.

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It has a cheerful and stylish interior and I thought it would offer an interesting modern menu. I walked in to find it reasonably busy, but not full.

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I tried to attract the attention of someone who might show me to a table. The person who appeared to be the owner studiously ignored me. She was busy fussing about the cash register and having a conversation with a friend on her mobile. The eyes of the rest of the staff members glazed over as they looked in my direction.

Finally I was able to indicate that I would like a table and was made to wait while a table that had been vacant for some time was cleared, but not before more important tasks were attended to.

I took my seat and a menu was brought, then I was ignored for some time until a girl who appeared to do nothing except wear a too tight jacket barked at the waiter, the only person who seemed to be doing anything, to take my order.

While I watched and waited other people entered, were ignored and walked out. My order was taken, a bottle of water was brought to the table and I began my wait for my meal.

The owner in the meantime joined a friend at the table next to mine and ordered some lunch for herself. It arrived promptly and she ate it and resumed her spot behind the counter.

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It can be fun to watch pretentious people performing for an audience and the antics of the staff amused me for a while, but after 30 minutes my food still had not arrived. I asked the waiter if he could look into it for me and he snapped that it was not his fault.

10 minutes later I told him that if it didn’t arrive in 1 minute I was leaving. Again he sniffily told me it wasn’t his fault and the owner joined in telling me they were very busy…they were not. No apology was made for the delay.

After more than 40 minutes this plate of spaghetti arrived.

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It could have been prepared from scratch in about 10 minutes and by this time I was furious and wished I had walked out 30 minutes before. I paid the bill and left.

As I walked back down the street a while later the owner was leaning in the doorway smoking a cigarette…a nice touch.

Don’t waste your time and money on this awful place. It really is the worst service I have ever had in Italy and I was disappointed that I had wasted my time there. I don’t think this was just an off day. These people have a bad attitude and serving customers seems to interfere with their chats to friends.

To make up for it I went later to the very excellent Caffe Greco in the Via Condotti for coffee and cake. I will tell you all about it in my next post.


Responses

  1. Not sure at what time you arrived, but I have noticed that some of the South European restaurants start to be slow when siesta time is near. Anyway, this attitude is unacceptable.

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    • It was 1.45pm, a reasonable time to expect lunch I think.

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      • Yes, as a matter in fact early in South Europe, but late in Finland

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  2. What a terrible experience for you, I’m looking forward to reading about your next stop for coffee and cake! Thanks for the warning.

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    • There are plenty of other places to have lunch in Rome. I won’t be going back there.

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  3. Italy can be the worst for service. Sometimes it feels like a constant battle…

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    • I have had great service too. As I said, I don’t mind snooty, it can be quite comical, but this place was awful. I’ll keep an eye out for shifty types on my next visit to Via dei Coronari.

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      • You’re right – Italian service is what it is. It can go either way. I’ll keep an eye out though the next time I’m in Rome… 😉

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  4. Excellent, nothing like saying exactly what you think, Debra. Even one of these incidents would have ruined your lunch but one after the other and then topped off by the owner having a fag in the street! I am sure you were quite rightly bristling with indignation.. maybe it was a front for some kind of deeply exciting criminal activity, you didn’t happen to see a few suspicious types emerging shadily from the back room did you? c

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    • I only had one afternoon in Rome and I wasted a large chunk of it is this crummy place.

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      • deeply boring, who wants to waste time in Rome… c

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  5. Debra, heading to Rome in a few days so thanks for the heads up. Your ending at Caffe Greco, however, hopefully made up for it! I have some restaurant recommendations from locals I plan to try this trip, so I’ll let you know how they are.
    Ciao,
    Judy

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    • I would love some Rome restaurant tips. Have a great time.

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  6. Well we won’t be going there then, will we? . But yes Caffe Greco has always been and still always is so fabulous – just love ‘people watching’ there while enjoying a good coffee.
    x

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    • There is no need to waste time in a place like this when there are really good places to go.

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  7. I love your blog, and as much as we do not like to tell of these bad experiences, we need to occasionally. Thanks for telling yours, I won’t go there when I’m in Rome again!! I look forward to hearing about your coffee and cake because that is the place I will visit.
    Denise

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    • I usually stop in at Cafe Greco at least once when I am in Rome. I mostly stand at the counter with the locals but this time I sat at one of their tables inside for the full experience.

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  8. Very disappointing when you have these experiences….so not necessary.

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    • Not when there are so many good things to do in Rome.

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  9. Nice.

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  10. I trust you’ve emailed em your blog Debra

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    • I would if I could find an email address for them. I did tell them when I left that it was the worst service I had ever experienced in Rome. They just shrugged.

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  11. Ditto with Richard the terrible……

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    • I didn’t get a business card and I can’t find an email address, but I gave them a filthy report on Trip Advisor. I hope they see it, they might try a bit harder to be pleasant.

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  12. Casa & Bottega have two places in Rome. The one in Via dei Coronari is the bar and there is a restaurant in Via di Tor Millina two streets away, I wonder what the service is like at the second location? From your account it seems both places should be avoided like the plague!

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    • I saw some good reviews…they must have been for the other one. There was nothing good about the one I went to.

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  13. They may have been “stylish”… but I am certain that they are terribly stupid.

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    • The owner certainly was and she set the tone for the others.

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  14. Wow. I would have never paid for that – I would have thrown the spaghetti in the face of the owner and told her to try it. Seems this place is just concerned with looking the part and they obviously don’t care about their customers. So sad.

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    • They were quite friendly with people they knew, but not strangers. Perhaps that is enough for them.

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      • Then they can serve their own kind, right? 🙂

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      • I think I only stayed as long as I did to see just how bad it could get. They don’t deserve to be in business.

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      • You’re right. To be treated like that … there is just no excuse. It’s high ignorance on their part.

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  15. Very, very disappointing. And the meal you finally got given looked so boring!

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    • It wasn’t terrible, but is wasn’t great either. It was spaghetti with oil, garlic and anchovies and as I said would have taken minutes to prepare.

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  16. What a shame! Experiences like this are unfortunately all too common in Rome. And seriously, what on earth was that they served you, the spaghetti they’d put aside for a staff members’ dog?!

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    • That is the worst I have had in Rome. I love the city and really enjoy the time I spend there.

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  17. So sorry for your bad experience in Rome. It’s one of my favorite towns in the world, and I still don’t understand how Romans attitude could be sometimes so rude (“strafottente” would be the right word in Italian).
    Please share your experience on Trip Advisor and hit them where it hurts the most: their business!
    Said so, I’m sure that the beauty of Rome will make you forget in minutes the disappointment!

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    • I love Rome and this won’t spoil it for me. I have put a scathing review on Trip Advisor. They deserved it.

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  18. What an awful experience Debra, thank you for sharing it. I can’t wait for your next post 🙂

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    • It is disappointing when something is this bad. The setting is lovely and it should have been so much better.

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  19. Just reading this made me soooooo mad. I hate everything about this place, based on your description. I hope they go out of business. And subito.

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    • I was really angry by the time that crummy plate of spaghetti arrived

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  20. That is one of the reasons Mike loves Italy.

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    • It is not always like this, in fact this is an exception to the service I usually get.

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  21. Why am I not surprised? There are a lot of rude peacocks in Italy. I don’t think my patience would have lasted as long as yours and I wish you hadn’t paid. Looking forward to the happier instalment.

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    • I probably shouldn’t have eaten the pasta, or paid, but I don’t like to make a fuss. I did tell them I thought their service was awful, but they didn’t care.

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  22. I wonder how long they’ve been in business. Can’t imagine they’ll be round for long. Not with all the excellent choices in Rome.

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    • If they keep this up they won’t be around for long.

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  23. 40 minutes for a plate spaghetti? You nature is to write positive posts, so for you to post this tells me this place is even worse.

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    • It is difficult to explain just how awful this place was. As you say, I don’t usually write bad things about places I visit. They might be just having a bad day, or you might order something you don’t like, but this place had no redeeming qualities and I think it would always be the same.

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  24. Totally felt your pain reading this! That would have driven me insane!

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    • I was really angry by the end of the visit, but I love Rome and I won’t let this put me off.

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  25. What a terrible sounding place! Sounds like they have no idea about how to run a restaurant. Shameful really.

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  26. Many years ago on a Contiki tour of Europe,, our tour bus pulled into a service station in the south of Italy (near Brindisi) for a brief snack and rest stop.

    But as soon as our buss pulled in, they closed the café! And the staff held up 10 fingers, to indicate they were closing for 10 minutes.

    When we looked in the window, the staff were having a cup of coffee. I guess that was a higher priority for them, than serving a busload of foreign tourists. Only in Italy 🙂

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    • Unfortunately this doesn’t surprise me.

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  27. Sorry. I was reading the story and when I got to the picture of the pasta, I laughed hysterically. 😆 That pasta looks appetizing … NOT.

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  28. Debra, as bloggers, we MUST to write about such places, like we it or not. This is only one thing we can do to “penalize” bad owners.

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