Roll on by Barolo
If you think the twinkling garden terrace and the spacious open entrance look inviting at Barolo, an Italian fixture on West Broadway, think twice and keep walkin’. Two companions and I were seduced by the notion of dining in the expansive back terrace dotted with white lights, birdhouses, and tree boughs on a warm summer evening.
The only highlight of the evening was the relaxed (although cramped) outdoor bar that served up serviceable sangria and cocktails made from fresh fruit. As soon as we were seated, things started going downhill.
The service was stilted, awkward, and strangely rapid. I felt rushed through my meal, which was ultimately OK because it was so terrible.
The food started out average and slowly tumbled towards dreadful. Mike and I both ordered appetizers, which showed up with 4 minutes of ordering them. This, naturally, made me think that they had been sitting out pre-prepared for awhile. He shared the grilled octopus with John, which both said was pretty good. I played it safe with a Caprese salad which consisted of huge blocks of mozzarella cheese and 3 very thin slices of tomato. I would have preferred it if there were huge thick slices of tomato and thin cuts of mozzarella. However, it was fairly good (albeit disgustingly over-priced at $16).
The entrees were an unmitigated disaster. I had the trenette avvantaggiate al pesto – essentially whole wheat and chestnut linguine-type noodles with asparagus, potatoes, and pesto. The linuine was very clearly freshly made, however it tasted strange because of the chestnut flour. The potatoes were horrendously undercooked, the asparagus just flat-out didn’t go with the other flavors in the dish, and the pesto tasted very fabricated. I ate only 1/3 of my dish as the chestnut flavor started to make me feel nauseous.
Mike had the biggest flunk of the night though – opting for granny-smith stuffed ravioli topped with a lamb ragout. Everything about this dish was wrong. The granny-smith apple bits tasted almost pickled and sour and yet were slathered in a formulaic cream sauce. On top of this mess was a lamb ragout that clashed with apple and cream sauce flavors. Not only did it taste like it came out of a jar, but it also was too savory in comparison to the mild cream sauce. The flavor palette was just terribly off.
John’s steak looked meek. It was over-cooked and not juicy enough. While steak always tastes fairly good, this cut was, in one word, lame.
I didn’t even bother with the dessert menu as at that point I was hoping to fly the coop as soon as possible.
The check was the most painful part of all – everything was painfully over-priced to the point of highway robbery.
Either way, skip right on by Barolo while strolling through Soho. It isn’t worth your time, money, or effort.