Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cafe Firenze

I've been wanting to try Cafe Firenze for awhile now. With Chef Fabio Viviani making it to the finals of Top Chef and his restaurant being pretty close to my house, I thought why not. I also heard that it was really good.

The occasion was my sisters birthday and we had a party of four. Our reservations were for 6:30 on a Thursday evening. Located in Moorpark, CA. the building used to be Bauduccos, which closed over a year ago. The entrance leads directly into the martini bar, martini happy hour goes on Mon-Fri from 4-7pm. The decor is rustic and has a old world feel. Our table was well lit, almost too much light. We ordered a bottle of Acacia Pinot Noir and we also had a couple of martinis from the happy hour menu. With a quick glance at the menu, I noticed the specials right away. There were two things that stuck out to me, there was a Squid Ink Pasta with Clam and Sea Urchin Roe sauce, the second item that stood out was the Rabbit Cacciatore.

Before we jumped into the entrees, we started of with an appetizer trio and the Beef Carpaccio salad. The trio consisted of two small crab cakes, a shrimp wrapped with Panchetta and Burrata served on top of a grilled eggplant. The star of the trio was the Burrata, it was silky and smooth with a drizzle of Olive Oil. The shrimp and crab cakes were good, but nothing special. The Carpaccio salad was delicious, the bitterness of the arugula went well with the beef and Parmesean.

I decided to go with the pasta dish, the rest of the group went with the Grilled Ribeye steak, the larger portion of steak had a mushroom sauce. We also ordered a Fettucini Bolognese Arribiatta to share. I was so excited to see my pasta dish, but the looks were deceiving. It was completely bland and I honestly thought there was no Sea Urchin in the dish. The steaks were inconsistently seasoned but were cooked well. The best dish was the Fettucini Bolognese, which was very spicy and the pasta was cooked perfectly. My Squid ink pasta was bland and tasted like pasta tossed in oil. We did order a Flourless Chocolate Cake which was served with a scoop of Gelato. I didn't have any, but was told it was good.

With the prices of these dishes and all of the hype surrounding the chef, I was very disappointed with our meal. The one thing I have yet to mention was the service. I have rarely experienced service so poor that I contemplated giving the server no tip. Our dinner took over two hours, this was not due to the number of courses or the kitchen not expediting our food quick enough. During our two hour meal, our server literally checked on us four times. The time between her visits were up to 30 mins. The bus boys did their job keeping our water glasses filled and clearing plates, but our server was missing in action. We noted all of this on a comment card, but I'm not sure I'm going back.

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