I have had ups and downs with restaurants in Italy. In this series, I will just tell you about the downs. Unfortunately, negative experiences tend to be more memorable than positive ones. While I have never had disappointing food in Italian restaurants, I am often let down by the slow and rude service. Sometimes I do not mind at all because I know good service is a luxury in Italy, other times the service is just unacceptable and makes me think: “Is it because I am an Asian?”
A random touristy restaurant (August 2016)
I often tell myself to avoid touristy restaurants at all cost. Yet, when you travel with your parents, you cannot be fussy and ask them to go extra miles for a high-ranking restaurant at a certain time. They eat when they want. Near dinner time, I and my parents found a restaurant with good reviews but it was not yet open so we went to a mid-dining restaurant near our hotel instead. The staff welcomed us with friendly smiles. We were not very hungry but it was dinner time so we just ordered water, some salad and a pizza. Suddenly, our waiter became cold and asked us “That’s it?”. Despite wearing formal clothing and looking sharp, he acted like a child not getting what he wanted. He seasoned our salad with his annoyance. We could not approve such attitude so we asked to take away all the food, paid, and just left the restaurant.
A lesson to be learned: Avoid touristy restaurants at all cost.
Where to go instead in Venice: Taverna Al Remer (live music at nights), Il Ridotto (reservations essential).
La Buca di Sant’Antonio (March 2017)
This restaurant is in the Michelin guide. We came here for lunch but did not get a table. We anticipated this because we did not make a reservation and it was on Saturday or Sunday. What we did not expect was the attitude of the restaurant staff. As soon as she knew we did not make a reservation, she immediately said the restaurant was full bluntly and cold-heartedly. She did not even offer us to come back later or another time. Fine! We would not come back anyway.
A lesson to be learned: If you really want to eat in a Michelin restaurant, make sure to make a reservation.
Pizzeria Rusticanella 2 (March 2017)
Another lesson to be learned: While in Lucca, go for cheap eats or pack your own lunch.
Where to go instead in Lucca: La Tana del Boia.
Are those restaurants in Venice and Lucca the only examples of unfair service? Wait for part 2. The next part will be about restaurants in Florence and Rome.
Italian food is delicious, and it is one of the best cuisines in the world but is it so good that those restaurants can get away with their terrible service and the lack of ethics? Personally, even if the food is tasty, I will not come back to the restaurants that gave me bad impressions. There are plenty of fish in the sea after all. And guess what? I can cook too.
What do you think about restaurant service in Italy? Can you share with us your worst dining experience in Italy or anywhere else? If you are Asians travelling in Italy, have you been in a similar situation?