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Restaurant Review: La Famiglia

When doing a food review there are things that I look at to determine whether the place is a hit or a miss. Those areas are food, service, and atmosphere. At La Famiglia, one outta three ain't bad.

A few weeks ago we decided to try La Famiglia on my daughter's birthday.  It was a memorable experience to say the least.  When I was in my early 20s I waited tables, so I have an insider's view on what it's like to deal with difficult customers and hot-tempered cooks.  

When entering, we weren't sure if we should order at the counter or seat ourselves.  There was no waitress in sight and none of the four workers at the counter greeted us.  Hesitantly we took a seat and waited five minutes before spotting her.  Finally! A waitress! But would she venture over, smile and say, "I'll be right with you?"

We watched as she walked back and forth from kitchen to table, bringing two drinks at a time.  I wondered why she didn't use a tray (or acknowledge us).  Another 10 minutes passed.

"Excuse me, can we please have some menus?" I said politely.  She dropped them off and got our drink order with no apology for the wait. 

It was 20 minutes before we got drinks.  We ordered appetizers and salads which generally come before the main meal but they forgot.  The cook brought the pizza and I told him we ordered appetizers.  He said they would be "right out."  Another five minutes and no appetizer, just pizza, soda and restless children.

An hour and 15 minutes passed when I asked to get the check so we could leave. The owner came to ask again if we wanted the appetizers and dinners since they would be "right out."  I said, "No, we want the check so we can leave." We wanted to go to another restaurant to give my daughter a good birthday memory. He said the pizza was on the house and he would wrap the appetizers for us to take, free of charge.   

I told him he might benefit by getting more help and his response to me was, "You know how waitresses are, they suck."  Still no apology.  He never brought the appetizers and dinners he promised.

Last night we decided to try La Famiglia again. We thought maybe it was an off night. No. This second visit just confirmed how bad the service really is.  We arrived at 5 p.m. and saw the same waitress.  "Oh no" we thought.  But alas! She had a tray and a half-smile this time.  Progress! 

We ordered drinks and appetizers right away. At 5:25 p.m. the apps came, but still no drinks.  The kids were thirsty so I got sodas from the cooler.  Two minutes later the waitress came with plastic glasses.  We ordered Fried Mozzarella ($6.95) and Chicken Fingers ($6.95).  Both were okay, as fried food goes. 

We ordered Cheese Pizza ($13.00) for our three children, a Chicken Parmigian Grinder ($6.95) for my husband, and I opted for Chicken Florentine ($16.95).  We fully expected to wait — we did.    

In the meantime, a cook walked by and plopped down a plate of what looked like rolls, drenched in oil and garlic.  I assumed it was garlic knots but wasn't sure since he didn't tell us.  We didn't order this so I wasn't sure if it came with dinner or if it was a peace offering?

The pizza came at 6:20 p.m., a full hour and 20 minutes after we arrived.  It was delicious; thin crust, Italian-style.  The waitress came back to check on us and we said, "The pizza is great, but are the dinners coming out soon?"  She looked puzzled and said it would be right out.

Another 15 minutes passed before she brought out the pasta that came with my dinner and my husband's grinder. She explained my chicken would be a few more minutes because the cooks made Chicken Picatta by mistake (which I would have gladly eaten).

My husband said the grinder was good.  The menu said the chicken I ordered was served with pink sauce.  In my experience pink sauce is a combination of Alfredo and tomato sauce, and fairly thick.  This sauce was thin, watery, and unflavorful.  There were huge chunks of garlic I had to pick out because, as Rachael Ray would say, "Who wants to chomp into a huge chunk of garlic? Not me!"

Dinner for five came to $74.00 which I felt was high considering the awful service and mediocre food.  It wasn't until I got home that I realized our server never brought my salad that was supposed to come with my $16.95 chicken dish.

La Famiglia does have good pizza, but I would highly recommend ordering take-out unless you enjoy sitting for close to two hours for dinner. It feels very cafeteria-like.

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