Monday, November 06, 2006

Osteria Fasulo

I had high hopes for Osteria Fasulo. In Sacramento on business, I was in the mood for the slower pace of Davis and had read great things online about Osteria Fasulo. I left a message for the restaurant early in the day requesting a reservation, as is their process, and had a voicemail back within the hour confirming my table for one.

Unfortunately, I had already checked out their web site and was drooling over several selections: in fact, I had my entire meal planned. I was crushed to arrive at the restaurant only to realize that the online menu was out of date (they'd lost their web developer, my server explained) and not one of the items I'd been thinking about all day was actually available.

While sipping on my complimentary shot glass of prosecco I sadly revised my plan of attack. While not a big fan of aioli, I was bound and determined to have myself some carpaccio, and so I knew the Carpaccio Cipriani, thinly sliced Harris Ranch filet served with a refreshing aioli dressing for $14 was in my future. I also opted for the Penne all' Arrabbiata, Barilla penne served in a spicy tomato sauce for $9. As a former vegetarian, I really don't go out of my way to eat meat, but I've never met a carpaccio that I didn't like. Fasulo's was no exception. I could take or leave the pasta.

I had gone with a very early reservation that evening and so there were just a few fellow diners in the restaurant. One table, two men and a woman, were having a hard time deciding on a wine. Their server recommended a wine from Osteria's extensive collection and was quick to point out that owner Leonardo Fasulo was very committed to ensuring that guests had a positive connection with their wine. If not, the server explained to the trio, Fasulo would rather bring them a new bottle than have an unhappy customer.

I continued to watch the trio as their server returned with the selected bottle, opened it, and poured the gentleman who'd ordered it a taste. The gentleman noted the wine's flavor by swirling it in his mouth, and deemed it acceptable.

And so I was rather apalled when, a good twenty minutes--and several sips--later, the showy guy summoned his server back to the table and passively commented on how the wine didn't seem like a "true sangiovese". The server promptly brought Fasulo to the table, who graciously brought the undeserving customer a new bottle of wine. I was so digusted at this table's gross willingess to take advantage of the system (and the staff's subsequent fawning) that I had to order my check immediately and get out of dodge. I left the restaurant feeling rather disappointed.

I am a firm believer that some restaurants deserve a second chance and I do think Osteria Fasulo is one of them. Their "no questions asked" willingness to replace a bottle of wine for an unhappy customer is certainly noble; there is no question that Fasulo takes pride in his restaurant. If I hadn't fallen in love with the online menu then the menu I had to choose from that evening probably wouldn't have been so disappointing. (By the way, it looks like they must have found a new web developer as the "current" menu can now be viewed online.)

- K

Osteria Fasulo
2657 Portage Bay East
Davis, CA 95616
Telephone: 530.758.1324


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