Rovezzi's Italian Restaurant Review

I had been to Rovezzi's of Worcester several times with iffy results. That restaurant shut down in late 2008. I decided in 2009 to visit Rovezzi's of Sturbridge - the "original" Rovezzi's restaurant - to see how the Sturbridge restaurant was in comparison. Despite my iffy problems with the Worcester branch of Rovezzis, I went into my Sturbridge trip with a fresh, open mind. It could easily have been that the management in Worcester had problems and that the Sturbridge restaurant was stellar, to become my new favorite. Optimism springs eternal.

I arranged with two other people (we'll call them Jane and John) to go out on a Wednesday evening. We figured it'd be fairly quiet and we could give them a very fair review. We arranged to meet at 6pm. I got there right at 6 - but both tiny parking lots were completely full. I drove up to the end of their street but the parking was clearly marked as "not for restaurant use". I turned around and went hunting down neighboring streets. I found a dance studio that didn't have any warning signs, but I still felt very uncomfortable parking there to go to the restaurant. As I had little other choice, I parked and trudged across the grass to get back to the restaurant. It was now 6:10.

Going inside, there were three small groups ahead of me in line. The waitress was talking with the first group at length about various things. After a while she checked them in on her computer and took them away. Then she came back and talked at length with the second group. Eventually she took them away. Then she helped a waitress with detailed instructions about how to ring in a receipt, with button-by-button play information. Eventually she got to the person in front of me, talked with her, and took her away. Then a couple was leaving and they had a long discussion about coupons, hours, and other random things. By the time she got to me it was nearly 6:25pm. I was patient and quiet, but in my years of going to "fine dining" I've never seen a hostess allow people to linger at the check-in table for 15 minutes before even greeting them. She finally led me over to the table where the couple was waiting for me.

The restaurant is in an old home and the dining areas are split into a variety of rooms on two floors. The walls are an orange-red color which I've heard is supposed to bring good luck to restaurants. Here it made the room very dark. Maybe that is why the water-pouring person kept spilling water (and ice cubes) on the table. I had brought a book with me and John warned me not to have it on the table lest it get splashed. In fact he deliberately didn't drink his water so it wouldn't need to be refilled.

I ordered a glass of Gavi to start with - and it was brought to me ICE cold. Gavi should be served at 48F. I'm not saying I need it to be exactly 48F :) But the point is that it should be served "slightly cool" - not almost frozen. I tried to warm the glass up by cupping the bowl in my hands - and my hands began hurting from the cold!

The waitress came back and took our orders. John asked about the beef carpaccio - he thought it odd that it had "shaved onion" with it, and no parmesan cheese. She said she could remove one and add the other for him. I ordered the beef carpaccio the chef's normal way for comparison, plus veal parmesan. I didn't want pasta with that and asked for veggies instead. She said that would be fine. We ordered a bottle of Antinori Chianti for the table.

During the ordering process, Jane ordered Bruschetta. This is properly pronounced Bru-Sketta with a K sound. You can check Wikipedia for verification of this. This is how Jane pronounced it. The waitress MIS-corrected Jane, telling her that it was actually pronounced "bru-shetta" with a H sound! It is one thing to be wrong in fixing someone. But the fact that the waitress publicly corrected Jane was the key flaw here. I've been in many formal restaurants and if the diner mis-pronounces something, the waitress or waiter lets it slide and nods in understanding. It is very improper for the waiter or waitress to call that person's error to the public's attention. Never mind when they are *wrongly* making a correction.

A short while later said waitress returned. The wine we ordered was apparently out. She wanted us to get a Melini instead. She said it was also a Chianti. How much, we asked. "Oh I don't know" she replied. When we asked to see the wine list, she offered to bring a sample of it out instead. We thought that odd, but agreed. She brought us a glass which we passed around. We found it fairly vinegary, but decided maybe we'd been poured the remnant of a bottle and we would try our fresh bottle.

Out came the appetizers.

Rovezzis

Rovezzis

The onion wasn't shaved after all - it was just regular pieces of onion. And it did in fact come with parmesan cheese. The beef was pretty plastered down to the plate, but it was relatively tasty. Nobody ate the onions which seemed to indicate that maybe they weren't really necessary to the dish. Maybe some people love them with the beef.

The Melini came out and was an OK wine. By this point we were just aiming not to make waves.

Rovezzis

On to the main courses. Lobster ravioli, a bolognese dish, and my parm. Except that my dish came with a pile of pasta, which I don't eat and asked specifically not to have. I asked to please have my vegetables instead. She took away the plate and brought back a plate with vegetables - and a ROLLED meat instead. I gave up and took it, it was close enough.

Rovezzis

Rovezzis

Rovezzis

The food was good. As we finished up our dishes we still had Chianti left and felt chocolate would be the perfect dessert to go with it. We asked for the dessert menu. There were literally NO chocolate dishes at all on the dessert menu. That seemed extremely odd to me! They did have one white chocolate item but I'm sure you know that white chocolate isn't chocolate at all - no cocoa solids found in this. We went with a banana dessert.

Rovezzis

Both Jane and John were surprised by the shape of the dessert when it came out - I'll ask them why. At this point I hadn't had my water glass filled in a while. I didn't mind the splashing, I just wanted to drink something. Eventually the waitress came by and was trying to figure out if she could take a wine glass away. "It's too dark for me to see if they have anything left in them or not" she apologized. If the wait staff can't even see if the glasses are full or empty, that's a pretty clear indication that lighting is an issue.

Finally the check came and we paid. On the way out there was *no one* at the greeting counter to talk with us or to give feedback too. The woman who had held me up for fifteen minutes on the way in was now absent. I have friends who do restaurant evaluations professionally. An important part of evaluating a restaurant is whether or not they have someone to talk with on the way out to give feedback and criticism too. Rovezzi's would have failed that test.

Summary? The food was good. The service was usually good intentioned but there were numerous flaws and errors and problems along the way. The prices were very high. There are many other restaurants in the Sturbridge area that I absolutely adore, with fantastic food, top notch service and tables that are lit. I really wanted to do my best to help promote this Rovezzi's after having such serious issues at the Worcester one, but it just wasn't meant to be. We eat out fairly often, at a wide range of restaurants, and I was rather surprised to hit this many issues in a single location on one night.

Menu: Good items
Wine List: we had iffy experiences
Dress: business casual
Staff: Friendly, didn't know the menu well, not prompt, other issues

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