Sunday, March 04, 2007

Food and Conflict in a Mid-Atlantic Restaurant (or Coming of Dinner in Sammy's Trattoria)

Bucking my initial desire to visit Amicci's, based on HG's highly favorable blog entry about how great it is, I opted for a place to eat where parking was less than three blocks away. I headed to Mt. Vernon and, after paying for parking (instead of circling the block for half an hour until I find a place to park), I headed for food. Passing by the Stable (not in the mood), Mughal Garden (smells good, but no) and Brass Elephant (not tonight), I went by the Grand Central (later) and its Tijuana Cantina (uh, no), past the Belvedere (wedding going on) and down the next block. I noted the Brewer's Art (Oh, THAT'S where it is!) to my left, and headed for Sammy' Trattoria.

Across the street from Thai Landing (again, not in the mood), Sammy's Trattoria is a busy, moderately upscale restaurant - the third in this location in as many years. It is particularly busy on weekend nights. This two-level restaurant, featuring a second-floor balcony area with additional seating, also features a bar with limited seats which its customers may use while waiting for a table. Without a reservation, customers at Sammy's may wait up to 45 minutes to be seated.

Instead of waiting that long, I opted for a seat at the bar.

Taking note of the middle-aged couple next to me (a fairly quiet woman and a very hungry man with a potty mouth), I ogled my menu. While the waitress apologized to the man amidst his barrage of "Fuck this shit"s and "We've been waiting for half an hour"s, she took my order of a fried calamari appetizer and a paparredelle alla pesto main dish.

A glass of Chardonnay and a cheerful gay couple both eased fifteen minutes of the man's bitching, which would come to a head after I received my calamari. And man, what a large bowl it was! I had no idea I would receive so much. And along with this came an equally large bowl of blanched Roma tomatoes with basil, onion and garlic. I REALLY didn't expect something the size of (for me) an entrée! Perhaps this was the catalyst, but I don't give myself that much credit. The waitress got frustrated with the man and stormed off, even though (as she later admitted) she had been constantly nagging the kitchen about the couple's food. But the calamari helped ease my irritation. It wasn't terribly tender, but it did the trick.

Fifteen minutes and about three more "Fuck this"es later, I got my papparadelle, and it was wonderful. The flat, broad noodles bathed in pesto, with whole pine nuts and light sprinklings of shredded parmesan were, again, heaped into a large bowl that could still hardly hold it all. I still have the noodles from Saturday night (as of this writing, of course), and probably will have it for lunch tomorrow. This is my third serving of it.

Total cost: $8 (calamari) + papparadelle ($15) + glass of white wine ($7) = $30 (rounded). I left a $5 tip. My service was slow, but come on, the place wasn't exactly empty.

Oh, and the conflict ritual that unfolded next to me? Both the man and waitress apologized to each other some time after the couple received their food (he a massive steak, she some kind of risotto mush). This all led to the waitress surprising the couple with the news that she had taken care of their bill, due to the wait. Coincidentally, I didn't hear a single "Fuck this" after that.


Fairfax said...

I drive by Sammy's all of the time and was wondering about it. Too bad about the crass patron next to you.

Dan said...

Yes, Amicci's can be tough to find a spot for on a weekend night. And once you get there you might wait some more for your meal. Try a weekday night sometime and then head on ever to Vacarro's for their "to die for" Tiarmasu.

I'll have to add Sammy's to my list of places to try. Too bad about the couple near you and a shame that behavior of that type gets rewarded with a free meal.

Around Christmastime we went to dinner with my in-laws at an Italian place on Long Beach Island (NJ). Either the waitress forgot to put our order in or something happened in the kitchen because we waited, and waited, and waited. The table behind us was seated and had salad, appetizers and dinner in the time between the time we got our appetizers and our meal. Instead of enjoying our drinks and laughing about the service (my wife's family had a restaurant for close to 50 years) maybe we should have dropped some f-bombs!

Baltimore Snacker said...

Dan, Fairfax: It was, to put it kindly, mildly irritating. True, their food did take an absurdly long time to come out, but there is no call for acting like that to your server, even when you say to her "I know it's not your fault, miss, but..." Do try out Sammy's, maybe more during the week if possible.