My wife and I stopped by Twisted Italian in Peoria, Arizona on a Tuesday evening in July 2014 at about 18:15. We have visited this restaurant multiple times in the past and have had experiences which were mostly very good to great, but a few not so great. This visit was for the two of us to celebrate my wife’s birthday.
We were greeted right away by M****. He took us to our east wall-side booth and asked us for our drink order. My wife ordered a simple Chianti ($8.00) and water. I ordered water. I mentioned to him that this was my wife’s birthday celebration supper and that we were both looking forward to another great experience.
While we waited for our waiter to return we noticed that the restaurant was about half full of patrons, which was a surprisingly positive indicator for a Tuesday evening. The wall-mounted TVs on either side of the dining room were displaying sport channels, as was the one wall-mounted TV behind the bar. The temperature was comfortable, a pleasant change from a few of our prior visits. Perhaps since on this night it was 113f outside, it may have had something to do with the thermostat being properly adjusted.
When the waiter returned about ten minutes later with my wife’s wine (but no water) and my water, he asked about our order. We inquired about the “Chicken Parmigiana.” Although we have ordered this item on a few of our prior visits we thought we should ask if the preparation and ingredients had changed. The waiter tried to describe the ingredients, but pardon the phrase, it just came out twisted. We had to ask him three times to clarify and with each response we got a slightly different and more confusing description. Once I finally figured out what he was trying to explain, I gave him my somewhat of a more simplified description and understanding, and he concurred. To be completely honest, the whole dialogue about the ingredients was a little annoying. But here is what we ended up with.
He described, and I am paraphrasing here, the Chicken Parmigiana as being laid on top of an angel hair pasta with a Alfredo Marsala sauce, but with a Alfredo pasta and a Marsala and Parmesan cheese on top of the chicken. Huh? So here is what I understood it to be from the bottom of the plate up; angel hair pasta with Alfredo sauce, then the breaded chicken, then Marsala sauce then the Parmesan cheese. Sounded OK so we both ordered the Chicken Parmigiana but asked for the breaded chicken cutlets to be extra crispy and with some extra Marsala sauce on the side for my wife.
After waiting for about fifteen minutes from when we placed our order, my wife had still not been given her water. So she asked the waiter the next time he walked by. His response, “I didn’t forget.” Another ten minutes went buy, no water. Finally after asking him a third time he finally returned with her water. But by that time my water glass was empty, which he did not notice and zoomed away before I could ask for a refill.
A few minutes later he delivered our hot Chicken Parmigiana entrees on room temperature plates. It would have been nice to offer ground pepper or maybe some ground Parmesan cheese. But neither were offered nor were water refills offered. As we were getting ready to take our first bite, my wife said, “it’s really too bad, because they are on the fringe of being what could be a great Italian restaurant...”.
The taste of the Chicken Parmigiana cutlets was actually very, very good. However, the cutlets had not been pan seared to be extra crispy as we had requested. In fact, mine was a little soggy in the center. But nonetheless, the combination was indeed very tasty. So according to my Italian wife, they got an “A” for this entree. From my perspective it was very interesting to see and taste the combination of two different sauces on one entree. I really enjoyed it. But I would have enjoyed it even more if my cutlet had been extra crispy.
After we completed our main meal the waiter came buy and removed our plates. Still no refill of our water nor did he ask my wife if she would like another glass of Chianti. But he did offer one dessert by name, which unfortunately we did not understand his word for the desert (it was mumbled). So we asked him to repeat and if there were other desserts this evening. Among the few that he cited he did mention Tiramisu. So we ordered one Tiramisu with two spoons.
The Tiramisu was served after about ten minutes. He placed the round ramekin-like dish between us on the table with two spoons as requested. Again, still no refill of our water nor did he ask my wife (or me) if we would like another glass of Chianti, coffee, cordial or anything at all. From a restaurant management perspective, this waiter missed several opportunities to generate revenue for the restaurant or to preserve his own tip. Perhaps training and monitoring might easily remedy this problem, but perhaps not with this individual.
We started to take a few spoonful of the surface layers of the Tiramisu which was sprinkled generously with cocoa powder on top. It was delicious when combined with a few of the layers beneath, including what tasted like espresso. My wife asked if I could see or taste any of the Lady Fingers-type of cake. At that point I did not. However, once we dug a little deeper we did indeed see a few of the tiny and almost unidentifiable cake layers. Upon reaching a little of the exposed bottom of the dish I did notice what appeared to be water. Bottom line, and bottom of the dish, it was watery and rendered that last layer of the dessert as inedible. At that moment and at that layer, we were very disappointed in this dessert.
Hopefully the management of Twisted Italian will take to heart what we hope to be constructive feedback. As my wife said, they have the potential of being a great Italian restaurant with a little twist to the atmosphere and to the entrees. But at present we got the impression that there could be a dilemma in the eyes of the customer; is Twisted Italian a sports bar or is Twisted Italian an Italian restaurant? We weren’t sure.
Overall assessments: Chicken Parm entree – Very good. Tiramisu – Good on top, very bad on bottom. Service – Disappointing this time.
It would have been nice for the waiter to have said just once, Happy Birthday to my wife.
We might be back to give them another chance at keeping us as a long-time diner. But it will unlikely be soon as there is a lot of competition in the restaurant business.
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