Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Trattoria La Siciliana – awful experience, great wine

By Jessica Yadegaran
Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 at 10:36 am in Uncategorized.

Argh. Just had to blog about my awful experience last night at the cult Italian restaurant in my neighborhood. Anyone who lives in Berkeley or the East Bay in general swoons at the mention of Trattoria La Siciliana on College Avenue in Elmwood.

Well, I love it too. The charm. The rustic, affordable, Zagat-rated menu. The great Sicilian vibe (cash only). But I hated it last night. It was a Monday, so my friend Kelly and I got in with no wait around 6:30. I had raved to him about it, like all Berzerkley-ites do. Despite the empty tables, it took forever to order, to receive our Proseccos, our salad, and eventually, our entree.

His arrived at 8. Mine, at least 20 minutes later. Isn’t that the cardinal rule of running a restaurant? Entrees at the same time. His salmon arrived cold, and the rationale was that my swordfish was on the grill and would arrive shortly. If it was really on the grill, why was it also cold and dry when it arrived? I was so ticked off.

Then this: The chef kept running outside throughout the night, bringing in what appeared to be large parties of his friends celebrating their birthdays. I know this because the lights to the restaurant were right by our table so Kelly and I offered to turn them off and on to help out with the celebration. We were offered a complimentary chocolate souffle for the overall terrible experience. Funny enough, we never said a word. They just knew how poor our experience was.

The bright side? I liked their wines by the glass. While the selection is minimal, the two glasses we tried were superb, especially the red: a 2001 Tatone Montepulciano D’Abruzzo for $8.50. It was a steal given the wine’s optimal age, dark fruit and peppery nose and silky finish. The Prosecco, a Carpene Malvolti, could’ve been drier but paired nicely with our ice cold fish. The bubbles were big and passive, perfect for Kelly’s sensitive tummy. He can’t drink Champagne, probably because of its fierce, tiny and abundant bubbles. So if you have the same problem, try it. And try that ’01 before they’re out.

How’s that for a balanced review? Regardless, Trattoria doesn’t need a review from me or anyone else. They thrive on word of mouth and that unwavering neighborhood loyalty, a Bay Area phenomenon that can be troubling at times. What if you have a horrible experience? I almost feel like you’re supposed to keep it to yourself. If you’re not careful, the concept of local local local can lull the brain. The next time someone is gushing over Trattoria, I’ll gush along with them, but I will definitely mention this past experience too.

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