It’s the last time I eat at Pazzo. It takes a hell of a lot of unpleasantness for me to declare that about any place.
My sister was over at my house and it was a toss-up between Pancake house and Pazzo. To think that I vigorously argued my case for Pazzo saying that I was in the mood for pasta and that my sister could have pancakes any time. What a waste of energy.
Pazzo used to be run by Chef Maurizio Gibillini, who now runs his own restaurant called Pagliacci at the Podium. It’s a stellar Italian place that I highly recommend. When I interviewed him two years ago about why he left Pazzo, he cited mismanagement and too much focus on profits at the risk of letting the food suffer.
It makes more sense to me now than ever. I’ve noticed a decline in Pazzo’s food the past two years, but now I believe they’ve hit rock bottom. The first thing I have to say straight off the bat is how poor the service is at Pazzo. These waiters have the most sour dispositions of any that I’ve encountered; it’s like, “Dude, I’m not being paid enough to serve you.” Attitude like this is enough to send anybody right out the door. I should’ve done just that and saved myself the grief.
At Pazzo, the focaccia is a sorry excuse for this most simple of rustic Italian breads. It has a hard-chewy crust covering a mushy, under-cooked interior. It was like eating a rosemary-flavored sponge. The restaurant serves their focaccia with a trio of dips: (olive, garlic-cream cheese, pesto) in these tiny receptacles. It gives an entirely new meaning to the word “dip.” The focaccia is even bigger than the opening of the bowl.
Not happy with that, I asked the waiter to bring me some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. He brings me a repository that’s even smaller, if you can believe that. It’s the kind of dipping bowl Filipinos use to hold their calamansi (native lemon)-soy sauce in Chinese teahouses. Atrocious. Seeing my bewildered look, the server stares at me and walks away. I turned the contents of the dipping bowl upside down onto my saucer. So miniscule were the amounts of oil and vinegar that I had to ask the waiter twice for a refill.
At this point, another waiter comes up to my sister and asks her, “Ma’am, would you like to change your order? We don’t have the smoked salmon and goat cheese ravioli.” Already feeling quite miffed, my inner bitch felt like telling her “Of course she doesn’t want to change her order. She’s already ordered what she wanted, moron.” So my sister scans the menu and asks if she can have the 4-cheese ravioli with a cream sauce instead of the regular tomato sauce. The kitchen acquiesced.
The dish arrived with the ravioli swimming in cream, helpless in their dairy death. There was so much cream that I wondered if the cooks had any left over in the kitchen. This was no extraordinary cream sauce, it was just ordinary cream, with no salt, no nothing.
I wanted pasta with sausage, so I ordered a dish called Penne al brandy, which isn’t on their menu anymore. It’s penne with sausage, tomato sauce, and of course, brandy. Having ordered it before, my sister was enthusiastic about it. She quickly changed her mind. The dish used to be served with slices of sausage, now they were reduced to ground sausage haphazardly mixed in with the noodles. Frankly, it looked and tasted like ground pork to me. The brandy used in this dish must’ve been some stuff on sale that had been forgotten about in some god-forsaken place in the pantry. It tasted like dirt and burnt wood. Yowza. On top of this flavor abomination was the pasta itself ”“ it was overcooked and soggy, much like my appetite at this point.
Wanting to boost our sagging spirits, my sister and I decided to have the gelato for dessert. Having come from Amici where a scoop is only P35, I balked at Pazzo’s price. For that much money, I expected something a lot more substantial than the meager serving handed over to me. This was a serving I could consume through one nostril: a P60 sniff on a cone.
The proverbial rotten cherry on our sundae was the server who hands us our bill while my sister and I are still eating our gelato. I thought that maybe she’d leave since we were still eating (or sniffing, as it were), and then come back. Noooo, the idiot hangs around expectantly, about two feet away from me. I haughtily told her to come back.
I for one, never will.