My ventis will remain of the coffee variety

The instances where the hubster and I actually plan to go out to dinner are few and far between when a special occasion isn’t involved. The premeditated decision to dine out on Friday night was a rare one but seemed a good opportunity to try the new Italian place – Pizzeria Venti – that opened down the street from us recently. To be fair, I’m not entirely sure what I expected, though I think I’d envisioned more of a sit-down experience. By that I mean – one in which all of your table’s food arrives at once…or in a timely manner….or….

Service can kill a restaurant experience. Five-star food will get trumped by no-star service every single time, in my book at least. Add to that, if you really want to see how efficient an eatery is, go during a peak time. That’s what separates the okay from the sublime. Unfortunately, the folks at Pizzeria Venti were grossly understaffed for a packed Friday night and those that were working seemed completely overwhelmed and a little confused most of the time.

Upon entering, we got in line to place our order and took a moment to peruse the wine selection. Wines available by the bottle are on a set of shelves not too far from the entrance. Had I known what was to follow, I’d have just picked up a bottle of red and not let it go. Side note – now having a wine fridge, I’m immensely put off by drinking wine kept at room temperature. We’ll do a separate post on my wine snobbery another day.

I decided on a Timpanini – PV’s version of a calzone, more or less. This one featured chicken, mushrooms, artichokes and alfredo sauce. Hubster opted for a couple of slices of pepperoni, meatball, green pepper and onion pizza. Add to that a bottle of red wine and a Moose Drool beer and this casual Friday night dinner now totals nearly $50. It is important to mention at this stage, the beer was the only thing that was provided immediately. Good thing too, since that’s all he got to enjoy.

Chicken Timpanini

Somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes later my Timpanini arrives at the table. To recap – at this stage, we have one beer and one entree. Oh, and I’d managed to procure some water for myself by nabbing a to-go coffee cup and filling it at the fountain. When the Timpanini arrived, I mentioned to the server that we were still waiting on a bottle of wine a couple of slices o’ pie. He said he would check on it for us.

Another 15 minutes pass and now I go up to the counter – which finally has no line – and mention that we are still missing half of our order. The woman whom I’d ordered from about 30 minutes prior looks around, slams her hand down (clearly she’s having a rough night too) and instructs another person to bring the wine. She says she’ll bring the missing pizza to us herself.

Now…at this juncture, I’m thinking things are looking up. Alas….no. The person who comes to serve the wine happens to be a wine rep and doesn’t even work at the restaurant. As a result, our wine arrives with a side of commentary about how what we ordered isn’t one of the wines she reps and she shouldn’t even be pouring it. I nod along, hoping she will just hurry up, pour, and vacate the table when – horror of horrors – she pours the wine and sticks her nose in there to give it a sniff before handing the glass to me. Ick. Blargh. Timpanini chunks rising in throat.

Now armed with my possibly-germ-infused-room-temperature-wine I make my way through the remaining (now cold) pieces of my dinner and still sit in wait for the missing slices of pizza. Once they arrive, I’m thinking at at least we’ll now get to having full bellies. Instead, I see the hubster making a weird face when he realizes they’ve already sprinkled Parmesan cheese on the slices. Despite his culinary inclination, he generally hates most cheeses. Especially ones with strong flavor like Parmesan.

Much-awaited pizza

It is at that juncture that I find someone to round up a to-go box and we decide to put an end to this travesty. By now, you’re probably wondering, well, was the food any good? Best I can do is give it a “meh”. The innards of my Timpanini were pretty delicious – the chicken was well seasoned and tender and the sauce had a nice flavor. But the amount of cheese on top pretty much overpowered the entire thing. May as well have been a big slice of bread covered in cheese.

The pizza – well, I’m sitting here eating it now since it wasn’t consumed at the restaurant. It’s only so-so as well. And I’m a lover of next-day pizza. Again, the ratio of cheese to everything else is off and the sauce isn’t really that great. This may be that rare instance where pizza is – gasp! – thrown out in my house. Or, the dogs may get an amazing treat tomorrow.

All in all – PV suffered from a variety of issues, the largest likely being the chasm between my expectations and what actually ensued. I was hoping for something more like the experience offered by Coal Vines and got something more akin to my local Pizza Hut. From now on, I’ll stick to coffee when I’m looking for something “venti”. Buen provecho!

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