Last night I went to Villagio with dear friends. We had no idea what to expect when we walked in as I had not gone through many of the posted reviews. We were simply hungry and the decision of Italian was made.
Getting there is difficult but is not their fault. The construction on the surface roads is terrible and I am certain effects many things about this restaurant at the current time. I would guess that attendance has been down and fighting with the construction debris has not helped.
Once we got parked, we walked in and felt almost beset upon by the staff - Five staff members "confronted" us at the door, and welcomes us. There seemed to be an owner, a maitre d, two servers and a busser - all waiting for us. We were directed to the left of the hostess station and in the second booth on the left. This detail is important later on in this review.
When were were greater we were also greeted in Italian. Any English was spoken with the same heavy accent that caught me a little off guard. Just what type of restaurant did we enter? Even our server, a young woman who was very gracious and professional, yet spoke tithe same accent. It was only when we were leaving and requested a take out menu (and was referred to their business card which had the web address), that she explained that this was 1) authentic Italian cooking, 2) that this was a family run business, and 3) their prices were very reasonable. Had they explained some of this up front it would have eased my confusion and "concern".
We needed some extra time to order as a result of a menu that had a select number of traditional dishes along with some interesting twists. The specials, too were presented by our server and sounded excellent - so much so that I had opted for the Grouper Piccata that was on special. There was also a buffalo mozzarella appetizer special that I should have paid more attention to. We did order the bruschetta which appeared with dark red tomatoes and a light seasoning with what I thought was a "curd-heavy" cheese but surprised to find the aforementioned milky, subtle and silky cheese.
The portions sizes are perfect, if not on the large size especially when considering the side of pasta with almost every dish. The pasta is served al dente and is perfectly toothy. The sauce is light and tastes as if it was prepared freshly on site. A perfect balance of seasoning and garlic so nothing fought for "taste control" over another.
The piece of Grouper was of just right proportion and was served in a butter, garlic, white wine and olive oil sauce. While at first glance it looked a little heavy and the number of capers extreme, but in hindsight I have to say almost perfect. The others at the table enjoyed their entries as well (consisting of a chicken dish and lasagna which I was told tasted better than it looked and it looked great.
OK, so then why the rating? Remember that I told you about the room to the left and the second booth on the right? Well, there is a wall opening between he two rooms and it is above the first two booths on the right in this room. We heard every word of the conversation on the other side of the wall. Everything and all the intimate details about a failing marriage.Nice, hunh?!
Add to that the fact that as I was facing out toward the street and I faced a window in the wall that separated the tables in this room from the hostess stand, and was able to watch what appeared to be a fight amongst the staff and the owners about table assignments or something or other. remember that I mentioned the heavy Italian begin spoken? Well, watching an apparent disagreement between family members in which Italian was virtually every work spoken (except for the passage "this whole room [the other one] and three tables!") made me admittedly uncomfortable. An issue may have been that we were significantly under-dressed for this restaurant and felt as if the placed us here to allow us to enjoy but be segregated front he bivalence of the guests added to this.
I don't know that I am correct but if so, I would have rather had the staff explain that there was a dress code. If I am incorrect and just sensitive to the activities, the arguing was improper and should have never taken place where customers would experience it. That window as well needs to go - it is downright creepy to have a window to a management location where they can "eyeball you" throughout the meal, that faces you directly.
The over zealous staff, the audio issues and the window - bring this rating down an important point. If you go insist on sitting to the right of the host stand. There was a harpist playing which we could hear, so I cannot comment on the layout of that side but know this - stay away from both two on the right of the left room!
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