July 15, 2010

I’ve been meaning to visit Graziella for more than a year and it finally happened on my birthday, just a few weeks ago! The gorgeous Italian restaurant located in the Old Montreal is owned and named after its chef, Graziella Batista.

I’ve only read great reviews about it that my standards were pretty high but I was also in festive mood that made me, I think, a pretty fun customer to serve. Sadly, I didn’t get the perfect match to take care of my table.

A few minutes after sitting down and waiting for the remaining guests, I was offered to order an apéro and chose the simple and delicious Cosmopolitain. After receiving it, my waiter asked us if we would like sparkling water. I clearly specified that tap water would do it for us but we then received a bottle of water even though all of the tables around us were clearly getting what they asked for. Well it didn’t matter I thought, as I wanted to go on with my evening. Why not spend a few dollars extra for water!

Once the table was full, we all ordered from the exciting menu our appetizers. For my part, I chose the beef carpaccio which was beautifully presented and fresh but it was missing a basic component - salt. My other guests didn’t enjoy their appetizers as much as I did and one of them even ended up with a shrimp with a smell of Javex.

Once again, I decided that it wasn’t so bad after we let our waiter be aware of the situation and started looking forward to trying Graziella’s gnocchis! Well anyone who reviewed this restaurant was definitely right about those. They were the best ones I’ve tasted so far and the simple tomato and basilic sauce just made it all perfect. This time, everyone was pleased with their picks.

Sadly again, when I realized that I would never finish this gnocchi plate even after my guests’ help, I asked my waiter to wrap it up so I could eat it for lunch. I was then given a strict reply that Graziella doesn’t allow take out in her restaurant and that it would go to waste. My waiter was however sweet enough and gave me a chance to eat more of it before he would take it away as if I my goal was to eat like a pig and feel full for the rest of the night. So finally, I had to let it go knowing its future destination.

I understand that Graziella is a chic restaurant located in a chic neighborhood but there’s nothing chic about wasting food. I understand that doggy bags is not an image that fits well with such a place but measures should be taken if the quantity of food in a plate goes beyond what can be eaten in a supper.

After this deception, I really didn’t have much enjoyment left for this first visit. I decided to give it one last chance and ordered the frozen nougat bowl.

Well, this dessert was delicious and finally respecting what nougat is all about. I’ve seen so many types of iced desserts with nougat in Montreal that involve cranberries or tons of nuts when all it needs is nothing. I really hope I get to eat this great treat again, in a more enjoyable evening.

Conclusion: This is sadly one of my worst restaurant review so far and it infuriates me because I know it could have been completely different if so many things didn’t go badly at my table - whether it was the service or the food. I think that Graziella can be a real Italian treat but it was way too expensive for what I got in my plate (and what I didn’t get to take away). I recommend to try it on lunch time for a start. This is what I’ll do to give it another chance!


Written by Sofia Shendi who lives and works in Montreal, as the CTO of Tastet. Join me on Twitter

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