Joe Palombo's Mirabella Cafe — Poor food quality!
My wife and I went out for our 7th "first date" anniversary last night. We made reservations for 8 PM at Mirabella's cafe. We showed up at 8:03 PM and were told that it would be a little while before we would be seated, that they were waiting for tables to clear and that it would only be a few minutes. We sat down in the entrance way and noticed several other groups of people waiting to be seated. We also noted several groups of people (typically couples) enter after us and they were seated outside almost right away. We wondered why we weren't offered the outside seating (we wouldn't have done that as it was very chilly outside) but still thought it was strange that we at least weren't given that opportunity.
There were 3 groups of people that were seated before we were, and at that point I asked if they could put our bottle of wine on ice as it was getting warm (~15 minutes wait at this point). At about 30 minutes into our wait a couple that came in after us was told that there table would be ready in a minute (they arrived almost 15 minutes after we did). My wife quickly pointed out to the hostess that we were here before they were, and were told that 2 tables had opened up and that we would also be seated right away (I'm sure we wouldn't have been if we hadn't said something).
We got seated on the back wall of the restaurant and heard constant banging against the wall which we figured out had to be the dish washer. 5 minutes later the couple that were to be seated before us were seated at the table next to us after they cleared that table.
We orderd appetizers, my wife the gnocchi 3 ways and I the Antipasto. The Anitpasto platter was s0-so, but the gnocchi with the red sauce was outstanding. We were getting excited as to what our entrees would taste like as we had heard great things about the food at this restaurant.
My wife ordered the involtone di manzo and I the roallatine rosmario. Both of us couldn't wait for our entrees to come. We finished the appetizers and our salads were brought out, which we ate. Then after what seemed like forever, our entrees arrived 65 minutes after we had been seated.
I cut into my chicken and noticed that the whole piece I was cutting into moved as one whole piece, which made me think it was bone-in (which it wasn't). I cut through the chicken and ate a piece of it and the chicken was so rubbery and dry that I made a face. I looked at my wife as she was taking a bite of her entree and she made a similar face. Now I can understand one of us getting a bad entree but both of us? I cut another piece of the chicken thinking I had a bad part that was over-cooked, but to no luck... more rubbery and dry chicken.
At this point I asked my wife how her entree was, and she commented that it was very bad. We swapped plates and I took 2 bites of her entree and felt that the meat used wasn't Prime sirloin, but more like chuck steak. The presentation of both entrees was horrible as they both were smothered in sauce and looked like they were thrown on the plate in an effort to just get entrees out. At this point the waitress came over and asked how everything was. I told her "not good". I asked her how the chicken should be, soft and juicy or dry and rubbery, and she said it should be tender (I've had pollo stuffed with prosciutto and mozarella many times before and it was always tender and somewhat juicy, not dry and rubbery). My wife was more tactful (she always is) and said that her entree wasn't what she was expecting. Our waitress took both plates back to the kitchen, saying that she would have the chicken re-cooked and my wife passing on her meal at that point (she admitted that she could do without her meal as we were past the point of starving).
Now here's the best part. Chef Palombo comes out and speaks to both of us. He told my wife that he tasted her entree and that it was supposed to taste like that. I was shocked to say the least! Then he tells me that my chicken was baked (not grilled according to the menu) and it was supposed to be dry. I informed him that that wasn't what the waitress had told me, his reply that she was wrong. I was ready to ask him if his food was supposed to taste like crap, but I could see in my wife's facial expression that we needed to cut our losses and get out of there. He offered other entrees and I just said no, we were fine (trying to take the high road).
We started watching other tables around us and noticed several sending their meals back also, so at that point I felt more sure of ourselves and the decision we made. A large table of 8 or 9 that was seated way before we were finally received their entrees, two of them sending their meals back to the kitchen.
We finished our wine and got the check for the appetizers only, I left a 50% tip for the waitress (it wasn't her fault), and we exited the restaurant.
We were extremely disappointed to say the least, and both of us questioned how this place could get such good reviews including Joe getting "hot chef" and "chefs to watch". It takes a lot to get me to lodge a complaint, but this was enough to do so. I understand kitchens get slammed on some nights, and mistakes are made and food is over-cooked. But for the chef and owner to come out and say his food was supposed to taste like that, well... if I wanted bad Italian food we could have gone to the Olive Garden or Bucca DiBeppo!