Hello – Is Anyone Home At Fiola? Anyone? Bueller?

How many times should someone have to call a restaurant to book a LARGE party before they give up? Once? Twice? THREE TIMES??? How about an in-person visit? And no response… nada, nein, zip, zilch, goose egg.

 Thus is the tale of my experience at Fiola - the hot, hip new Italian eatery captained by Uber-chic Chef Fabio Trabocchi and his spouse, Maria.

I have been trying for two weeks now to book a dinner party at Fiola and cannot get as much as a return call to tell me to drop dead. My firm is getting ready to celebrate our ten year anniversary and I want to treat my staff to a fantastic evening of food, wine and fun to mark the occasion. I had dined there recently for a wine dinner and I was impressed with the service, food and ambiance, so I thought Fiola would be the perfect spot to host dinner for 30 people.

After leaving three messages – count ‘em, three – for Maria Trabocchi (the chef/owner’s wife and director of private dining), I decided to confront her directly. My wife and I went with another couple to Fiola for dinner last week to celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary. When we arrived, I asked the hostess to please send Maria over to the table so that I could give her a card and make the connection.

Overall, the evening was a solid 8. The food was very good and both our server (ask for Ashley) and the wine director (Theo) were attentive and charming. We noticed Maria flitting about the restaurant visiting most of the tables and giving everyone the standard kiss-kiss routine. But somehow, we escaped her attention and she never as much as looked in our direction. Must have been my cologne?!?

On the way out, I asked to speak to Maria. I explained who I was and that I was trying to book a dinner party for 30 – count ‘em – 30 people. She feigned great surprise and promised (PROMISED) to give me a call on my cell phone the very next day…. And I am still waiting.

Why am I taking the time to rant about this seemingly trivial experience? Because I have had my fill of restaurants (and other businesses) that just DON’T GET IT! It’s like the scene in the movie Network when the news anchor stands up and delivers his famous “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” speech. It’s that simple.

Citronelle (another story) and (BLT Steak) could take a lesson from Wolfgang Puck’s The Source or any of Ashok Bajaj’s eateries. Every single time I have been at any of these restaurants, they have made me feel welcomed and comfortable, like Norm at Cheers (you older readers will probably get that reference…). So why didn’t I start with The Source (or Bibiana) for the anniversary party? Good question. And now I will…

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