/Primo al Pigneto, Rome's Worst Service?

Primo al Pigneto, Rome's Worst Service?

I gave Primo al Pigeto second chance. I went in with an open mind, a good attitude, and great company, but left disappointed, especially with the service, for a second and final time. My first visit was back in 2008 for the Cites of the Underworld wrap party. The food was good, but the service was abominable. I’ve been treated like shit in plenty of Roman restaurants before–in fact, it is a rather common occurrence–but that night, our server brought things to a new low. It took almost two years for me to suppress my anger and return.

On Wednesday night, I went back with COTU star Don Wildman and his lovely wife Melissa. The company was amazing and certain aspects of the meal were good— the smoked articoke with straccitella di burrata was interesting and the galletto was just as memorable this time around—but the service was, once again, awful. At least this time it was polite. So I guess that has been a slight improvement…

I know Rome is not a city renowned for its customer service in any sector, particularly hospitality and dining. And I know that trendy places like Primo employ servers who are deliberately aloof and often inept. Its part of their “thing”. I get it. But I don’t excuse it. So here are some random thoughts on my experience and service:

If a restaurant has a sommelier, he should be trained to present and serve the wine properly. For example, if a woman orders the wine, it should not be presented to the only man at the table. This happens all the time and I am able to overlook it, however begrudgingly, in a casual setting. But since Primo chooses to employ a wine professional, I find it absurd that he doesn’t bother to inform himself who ordered the wine. It’s insulting.

If a restaurant offers an amuse-bouche, it should be delivered to the table with an explanation. If the chef has taken the time to create it, it is worth at least a 5 second description. Tell me what is hidden behind that golden crust. By the way, Chef, you forgot to put salt in your potato and octopus crochette.

If there are variations to the menu, that is totally fine. In fact, I like that the items on the menu change based on market availability. But the server should not present the menu and say, “we’re out of cod and a bunch of other stuff but I’ll tell you if we don’t have something when you order. It’s pointless to go over all the changes now.” I disagree, I think it’s kinda the perfect time to go over the variations. Like, before I decide on something.

Now Chef, this one’s just for you. Taste all the food before it leaves the kitchen. And use salt. The lasagnette with egg, asparagus and parmesan cream was seriously one of the blandest things I have ever eaten.


  1. Conchita Vecchio May 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Ah, how I miss the good ol’ days of places like Da Meo Patacca and La Parolaccia…at least the rudeness was part of the charm!

  2. Heather May 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Seriously, it’s 2010, is it that inconceivable that a (gasp!) woman orders the wine? At one place in Montalcino I ordered the wine, the server brought it to my boyfriend, he passed it to me and I tasted it. This scene was repeated THREE times! (It was more than just the two of us ordering three bottles!) He just refused to accept that I was doing the picking. Mah!

  3. Alfredo de Bonis May 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Cara Katie,Una bel pugno al tesoro di famiglia li metterebbe apposto!. Where is this great place? Have you ever tried Da Memmo on the Via dei Soldati? Go there and tell Memmo your a friend of mine, ask for either Guido or Gabby. Memmo is from Amatrice and uses meats like abbaccio from his farm. I’ll be back in Oct with more time in Rome so let’s plan on getting together. Ciao Alfredo

  4. shayma May 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    that’s too bad, bec the lasagnette looks absolutely divine. and i think you should say smthg; i would not appreciate it if the sommelier did that to me and i would make it known to him or to the proprietor. in fact when they do do this, my husband immediately tells him to stop and pour it into my glass. or i just lower the tip (in so many places in the US and Canada they expect a 20%- not 15% tip) if i feel miffed. x shayma

  5. Katie May 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    @conchita yes the good old reliable i pay you to mistreat me. only in rome!

    @heather maddening! not that the first time would be ok, but once you let them know theyve messed up, one would hope they’d learn. but no. not ever.

    @alfredo this place is on via del pigneto in pigneto. ive never been to da memmo. ill check it out. let me know when youre back. ill be doing a tasting at clydz in august so hope to catch up with you then!

    @shayma Oh you KNOW i said something. But was ignored! When the wine was brought to the table and presented to Don, I told the somm I ordered the wine and asked if I could see the label, as it was across the table from where I was sitting. The somm put the bottle on the table for me to look at it…3 ft away from me…while he walked away to find a wine key (I keep mine in my pocket when Im serving!!!). He then proceded to pour the wine for Don to taste. No words. Also the lasagnette looks divine but didnt taste like anything. bland mcbland.

  6. The Worst of 2010, Rome Edition January 2, 2011 at 3:11 am - Reply

    […] Primo al Pigneto: Ugh! So over this place. More here. […]

  7. […] course not everything in Pigneto is great. The most famous restaurant there, Primo al Pigneto, wins my imaginary award for worst service in Rome. It’s one of those see-and-be-seen joints […]

  8. […] al Pigneto. Pigneto's other acclaimed restaurant. At least one review indicated it was up its own culo in terms of service, so we gave it a miss. [primoalpigneto.it] […]

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