When people close to you effuse that it’s THE BEST Italian restaurant outside the old country you can’t help but get heightened expectations.
Oh the shame! This Girl could no longer bear the embarrassment of not knowing the Italian Pantry. It was time to dust off Boozy Friday Lunch Friend.
We found the Italian Pantry to be in much the same vein as Bottega Rotolo: half eatery, half deli. Unlike Bottega Rotolo, the seating is not bar tables which makes the Italian Pantry feel much more cosy, less cluttered and certainly more like a restaurant.
The Italian Pantry gets accolades for their Friday night dinners. We went for lunch and perhaps our expectations should have been mooted as a result. Anyhoo, here are our observations.
Greet your customer – we stood at the counter for an uncomfortable period without any acknowledgement by the wait staff like ‘hello’ or ‘I’ll be with you shortly’.
We’re here for lunch not a lesson – My pronunciation of gnocchi can get me by, but Conchiglioni is a completely another matter. Call me old fashion, but paying someone for a service doesn’t need to include at best, a test, and at worst, awkwardness or embarrassment. ‘Try to say it, go on!’
Help me understand the rules –Sinking into despair marooned at our table for 15 minutes, I pondered why our drinks order had not been taken and why the waiter was standing in the door to the kitchen chatting. Order at the counter when you’re ready. It’s not my preference but I can live with it, as long as the expectation is clear. I hadn’t read every line of the menu to uncover the secret, fortunately, Boozy had been more thorough. Eventually we made our way to the counter. There is no harm in seating your customers and letting them know to come up to the counter to order when ready.
Television a no no –You might be watching pasta making instructions but it's still an eatery with a television turned on.
A hearty home cooked meal is soul food –Boozy and I agreed that our pasta meals were wholesome tasty dishes. The gnocchi was the larger and heavier serve with just the right amount of spicy heat. The powdered parmesan and the Sicilian salt in its authentic cardboard container did not add to the experience.
Dessert should be revered - I’d heard the cannoli was TO DIE FOR. I’m responsible for egging Boozy on to try one and what we found for our $6 each was a soft shell and a dry ricotta inside. We shared a custard filled donut and Boozy got the half with the custard. There are better elsewhere. See our earlier post on Bring Back Donuts.
Go for the fresh pasta - A walk around the deli is interesting. It’s the real Italian deal and there is a great selection of handmade fresh pasta to buy. This is the one other place where the Italian Pantry has it over Bottega Rotolo who otherwise offer a more interesting selection of goods with better customer service.
The Two Girls don’t like to blog about things we don’t enjoy so to add balance we point out that on the day of our lunch, Trip Advisor had recorded 27 community reviews. Twenty one rated the establishment as excellent or very good (viewed 26 June 2014).