This was my only bad meal in Italy, but the restaurant was recommended by a now-maimed Sorrentine friend.
The trip to the restaurant was the highlight of the evening, with the cab driver taking us on a ride that was probably the closest thing to re-experiencing the passage through the birth canal.
I knew once we got inside that we were in trouble... walls plastered with photos of Sophia Loren, the tables pre-set with buckets of grated parmesan, angel hair pasta on the menu, mariachi (that's not a typo) players singing That's Amore, and gratingly loud Brits as well as Japanese customers grouped throughout the restaurant, without a native Italian speaker to be found (aside from perhaps the wait staff).
But we were stuck until the driver returned. Our waiter recommended an appetizer sampler, which suggested to me that, as in most Italian restaurants, it would be a family style platter. It sounded edible, and in fact, was the salvageable part of the meal -- until we saw the bill and that it was a per-plate/per-person charge. The appetizer cost us 90 euro. I ordered a gnocchi alla sorrentina, figuring, well, at least they could get a local dish safely prepared. It was mushy and overcooked, and I swear they used Hunt's canned tomatoes.
The door kept banging, the bathrooms were outside and down the sidewalk (it was raining), and the phone rang all night and was on an amplifier. Add to this the beer drinkers on the other side of the room, who just got louder and louder, and the whole night became a comedy of errors.
Thankfully, it was the one bad meal throughout my stay in Italy; it's too bad it was shared with a group of my friends instead of a pain I could bear privately.
However, this place looks very popular for tourists who like un-Italianized, processed and blanded food, and constant aural stimulus. It appeared that many tables of customers were not in any hurry to leave, whereas I almost cried that in this land of incredible food fare I had to eat (and pay for) a sub-par meal.
My rating of 1 dot is only because I couldn't put in anything lower.
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