Friday, March 5, 2010

Facci Ristorante In Laurel (Truly South Columbia)

I can't applaud Facci Ristorante enough, but I'm worried that I won't get to eat there again now that people have discovered this new treasure off Rte 29.

In January, Facci replaced a Pasta Blitz on Johns Hopkins Road.  The practical differences were obvious -- a wood-fired oven, new design, and a menu titled towards house-made pastas and pizzas aspiring to live by the rules of Naples.

In several months of meals, Facci has never disappointed.  Like Bon Fresco or Victoria Gastropub, this is a casual place that pays close attention to ingredients.  So you just order what you prefer, and it makes for fun meals, whether you're blowing out with wine and three courses or you're splitting three pizzas among four adults just to escape your snow-bound homes for an afternoon.

Facci fills a valuable niche -- interesting food, affordable prices, and a decor that feels more like a date night than a shopping center restaurant.  That makes it a restaurant that I want to visit again and again -- a weeknight with Mrs. HowChow, a "snow day" afternoon with neighbors, the Saturday night when my parents drive up from Virginia.

The problem is that I can't get inside.  Facci is packed, and they take no reservations.  Last night, we waited 20 minutes.  The Saturday night when my parents were here, my father and I circled the parking lot for 15 minutes just to find a space, and the wait was still 75-90 minutes once we got to the hostess.  We ended up eating southern Indian food instead of southern Italian that night.

When I get my parents back, we'll probably start with the "Italian boat" antipasta.  As I wrote in my first thoughts on the soft open, you get a platter of meats, cheese, toasted bread, grilled zucchini and roasted peppers. It's an auspicious start because each piece was delicious, and each offered a distinct flavor -- charred zucchini, sweet peppers, salty cheeses. The zucchini was tender with a vinegar bite. The bread was perfectly brushed with oil, then toasted. Five minutes into our first meal, we were talking about summer nights on Facci's patio with that antipasta and a drink.

Then, we have grazed the pasta and pizza.  The pasta highlights are ravioli and gnocchi made in the kitchen.  They come drenched in sauces -- maybe even too much sauce for Mrs. HowChow -- and they have the firm consistency and the flavor that stand out from Italian places.  Normally, I'd rather make pasta at home and order something else in a restaurant, but Facci's pastas are the exception to that rule.  But don't leave without a pizza.  Again, this is about personal taste.  All the pies come with the charred crust of the brick oven.  Personally, I'm infatuated with the "mamma lina" with gorgonzola, mozzerella and speck and the monteso topped with arugula, but I will work through the entire list.

On some visits, the service has been inconsistent, but it always come with a casual energy that makes Facci feel friendly even while we're waiting too long for food or the check.  I'm hopeful that energy will carry Facci into the future.  To me, it's a pleasure to pay $12-14 an entree for something unusual and delicious, but I recognize that Facci is taking the road less travelled between "reservation restaurants" like Iron Bridge Wine Co. and the casual joints like Kloby's a few doors down.

If you have the choice, consider asking to sit in the dining room so that you avoid the televisions that overlook the entire bar.  And, if you have the self-control, save a little space for dessert.  We had canoli the first night, and Mrs. HowChow thought it rivaled the best in Baltimore.  So far, we have stuffed ourselves at every other visit and been too full to want a sweet.  Next time, I'm planning ahead.

In all seriousness, the hostess told us last night that the way to avoid waiting at Facci is to come before 6 or after 8.  They're so packed at dinner time that they haven't offered takeout.  They literally don't have enough people to stand around.  If I can get this Wegmans open, I might bring my cordless drive to Facci and help them expand into the empty store next to them!

There have been a string of comments with detailed reviews on my initial post by Cathy and others and on my post about the opening by Stacy Lyn, Jason and others.  They're a fine source for reviews of specific dishes, and you should read the Pizzablogger's comment about how Neapolitan pizza can be "wet" in the center.  The PB talks about "tip sag" and suggests how to eat it.

In addition, the Hungry Wanderers blog has a bunch of photos and a detailed review, and Facci has had quick pieces written by both the Sun and the WPost.

Facci Ristorante
7530 Montpelier Road
Laurel, MD 20723


NEAR:  The key fact is that Facci isn't in Laurel.  It's in a shopping center on Johns Hopkins Road just west of Rte 29.  This is the same shopping center as Kloby's for BBQ or La Palapa Too for Mexican, so expect the lot to be full at prime dining times. This sliver of land is south of Columbia and north of Fulton and Scaggsville, but it certainly isn't Laurel.

  Facci Ristorante on Urbanspoon


K8teebug said...

this place has pretty terrific pizza. I usually make my own at home, and would probably only go here if I wanted pizza I didn't make myself. That said, we went at 9:45 on a Friday night and the wait was an hour. We ended up finding a cozy spot at the bar in 10 minutes though. I hope that some people who don't want to wait decide to eat a pulled pork sandwich at Kloby's instead!!!

Anonymous said...

I'd say the entrees are outstanding, but I prefer the pizza and salads at Coal Fire. The cannoli doesn't just rival the best in Baltimore, it is the best in Baltimore. They are serving Vaccarros cannolis. I especially enjoyed the pesto ravioli and the chicken and mushrooms.

SkyWriter said...

I feel your pain. During a break between snows storms, my husband and I dropped by the evening of Feb. 13. Of course, that's also the day before Valentine's Day. Even so, the wait was 40 to 60 minutes and we were meeting friends at a movie theater in an hour. Wound up at Ginza [also a nice place]. Finally, March 3, we arrived around 5:30 p.m. In this part of the world, we've discovered that if we don't get to a popular restaurant well before 6:00 p.m., there's going to be a wait. You can bank on it. We were seated right away, but 30 minutes later people were in line waiting for tables. Had the Italian boat and loved it. Shared a Moneste [sp?] pizza and a glass of wine. Everything was top notch - food, service and visit by the manager, Lisa Passalacqua. They could fill a place three times the size of the current location. Wonderful place! We'll be baaaack!

Hungry Bob said...

Great pizza! Wife and I went there yesterday for lunch and thought it was first rate. This is now our preferred HoCo pizza place (not including our homemade) after having had some overcooked pies at Coal Fire. Plus this is so close to our house!

This is Laurel in zip code only. The neighborhood is more or less Scaggsville/Fulton. Some locals have been trying to get the Scaggsville name dropped for awhile, but it still appears on an I-95 exit sign.

I would expect to see Facci expand by late '10 or early '11. That's what La Palapa Too did after several months.

Lisa said...

Due to the great comments about this place, husband decided to pick up a few pizzas today (he was already in the area). He showed up right when the restaurant opened, and was promptly told that they absolutely do not do takeout. I can understand not having takeout during busy times like dinner, but this seems sort of ridiculous. We're still interested in trying Facci, but this abnormal policy has turned us off a bit. And, ahem, Facci -- a note on your website about this policy would have been really helpful.

Anonymous said...

Pretty goo food. But I felt like the service couldn't keep up with the demand. Or Server "janice" only stopped by our table every 25 mins or so. I tipped hr accordingly.

Sue said...

We FINALLY were able to get in for the first time on Friday night and sat at one of the tables in the bar. It was packed. Our server was Janice, who told us she is the wine person, and who seemed to be waiting most of the tables in the bar area that night because the bartenders were swamped. We LOVED our meal! The shrimp gondola is to die for, and we can't praise the pizza enough! Janice's wine recommendation was great and her service was really good and personable. Lisa the manager also stopped by to say hi and chat with us. She is very bubbly and friendly and asked us how everything was. We only wish the parking lot was bigger and it wasn't so hard to get in, but now we know why. We will be back (if we can get in again!)!

Anonymous said...

The food is great. I'm not a big fan of the pizza really (I guess it's just a style thing), but the rest of the food is awesome.

I too have faced long wait times, told that they didn't do takeout, and found myself ordering items that were sold out two weeks in a row when I visited (calimari). And at first I was fairly agitated about it all.

But I think what's happening is they had no idea they would be this successful, and they clearly have no plan to deal with this level of volume.

Regarding the takeout I mentioned to an employee that it seemed ridiculous not to do takeout. He told me it's because they started with takeout and they actually managed to sell out of all their dough during dinner services. Oops. That's gotta hurt. "No, we can't serve you any pizza just now sir but you could have some calimari...err...wait...that's sold out too. How about some bread and a salad?"

Anonymous said...

The best cannoli in Baltimore are served from where old time Little Italy residents go when they want pasties, which is Piedigrotta.

Vaccarros is mostly a tourismo driven zoo. --K

FoodBooty said...

My dining experience was worth the wait. Good food at a reasonable price (something that the Fulton/Maple Lawn area often lacks - especially in the price department).

A menu that offers unique and tasty dishes.

FoodBooty said...

This is the same owner as the Pasta Blitz on 108 in Clarksville...just a different menu, ambiance, and dining style.

Anonymous said...

just got back. food was nothing special and the service was horrible. waited over an hour. I'll never make the mistake of straying away from klobys and ginza in that shopping center.

if you want good pizza and fast go to pubdog, food is good, cheap and there staff at least smiles.

Anonymous said...

They do seem to have a bit of an attitude. I'm sure it's unintentional, but they better watch out for that.

Anonymous said...

I just got back from there too & what a great thing to see "a packed house at Facci,so worth the wait!I know that the food is amazing there ! Im looking forward to eating there again this weekend & bringing my whole family! You know what they say "good things are worth waiting for"! Sorry to read the negative comment on the wait & service,we had wonderful food & service,great job Matt! ! If you want "fast food" there is always McDonalds or a quick frozen meal from your grocery store !Facci has my vote & I know they will be around for a long time!Im so glad I don't have to drive into the city to have real Italian food!Bravo Gino & Lisa!

Anonymous said...

I have eaten at Facci several times now. I have had to wait to be seated a few times. But the food is well worth the wait! I have taken my parents, my kids and my friends there. Everyone has really enjoyed the food and ambience. I have always had great service. Great job to the bartenders James and Matt!! I know this is the same owner as Pasta Blitz on 108 and I think he and the Manager, Lisa, have done an outstanding job! I am craving the salad and pizza even now. Will go back again soon for my "girls night" out.

Anonymous said...

Just had lunch at Facci because Kloby's was packed...should have waited for Kloby's. Service was rude and food was expensive. I suppose my problem is that I don't like these new fancy pizzas. Asked for basic pepperoni and sausage. They charge $3 a topping on top of $9 for the cheese pizza!! $15 bucks for a two topping 10" pizza. Was the pizza good?...yes...great? Frankly I think the pizza at Pub Dog is cheaper and better with much nicer servers.

Unknown said...

I think the posters who are complaining about not getting their food fast enough should realize that this is a RESTAURANT. It's not a fast food joint... if you want fast, go to Chick-Fil-A across the street. I am Italian and believe me, this is REAL Italian food, IMHO better than what you'll find in Little Italy. We go to Italy every year for 3 weeks and I cook Italian, so I think I know what I'm talking about. Good food takes time to cook, and Facci cooks to order. I hope they do expand, since the wait can be long, but as long as I can have a glass of wine I'm fine. The energy in the place is really fun and it's just so great to see a restaurant that is doing so well. Lisa is amazing, so bubbly and friendly and smart and engaging... the perfect manager. And Gino came to our table on our very first visit there which was last week, and when we walked in last night everybody greeted us like we were old friends. I can't believe some people are complaining about rude service, although last night the servers were literally running from place to place, they were just slammed. Have a little compassion, people! And regarding the comparison to Coal Fire, the pizzas are MUCH better at Facci. The Coal Fire sauce is the worst sauce I ever had on a pizza. Facci is the real deal, just like they make it in Napoli. This place is great, I highly recommend it and will be making it a regular spot on our rotation.

RDAdoc said...

I am a big fan of Facci's. Since I have a young child it's not always easy to go out to dinner. I've stopped in several times asking if they have take out available and have been told no but they plan to. I am not sure why they don't have it yet but hope they will soon. I am a huge fan of their broccoli rabe pizza!

Penny said...

At 8:15 on a Friday, 40 minute wait. But worth it for the incredible bolognese. Once we sat down, the service was great. The staff was extremely pleasant.

I do wish they'd have a reservation section in the main dining area and open seating for the tables by the bar. We have elderly parents we'd like to take when they visit, we just know they couldn't stand and wait for as long as we can.

Anonymous said...

Love this restaurant. The food here is wonderful. I've been here several times now. Tonight we brought a friend in for his birthday and only had appetizers and desserts. Love the fact that the appetizers are 1/2 off on Sundays. Joey waited on us, he is always a delight. I recommend this restaurant. Good food and Good service.

thenewguy said...

Finally got to check this place out the other evening. Arrived and was one of the first tables in for dinner so there was no issue with wait, but I was also extremely early.
The half price appetizers and $1 off reasonably priced wine is a great deal. All the appetizers ordered were quite good.
The service left something to be desired unfortunately. Every visit from the server wound up being uncomfortable. She also incorrectly identified the drinks when delivered several times. Nothing to ruin the meal, probably just one of her first shifts.

Most importantly, the pizza. The crust gets an A, the sauce an A+. They used a bit too much of the fresh mozz for the pizza, and I prefer the basil either underneath the cheese when baking or shredded on top of the pizza immediately after coming out of the oven to wilt. These are just preference issues, it was still a good product.

Overall, really enjoyable evening. It's great to be able to order rounds of quality food and drinks in a nice space without racking up a huge tab.

Pizzablogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pizzablogger said...

Great to see this place is very popular. Three times and the service, at least during my vists here, has been very friendly and attentive.

Good to see the pizza has made progress and improved since the place opened. Seems Gino is getting more in tune with his oven and the process. I hope he keeps pushing this to the point where the pizza could be included in an "A Line" of Neapolitan pizzerias.

I'm a supporter of the no-take out policy and looking at some nearby diner's plates makes me want to try a non-pizza dish next time. Hope this place keeps pushing it! --K

Trip Klaus said...

Now that the weather is improving, you will have to add this to you're outdoor dining with a parking lot view list.

tt said...

I have tried to go twice at 5:30pm both times, but on a Friday and was told an hour I've had my daughter and couldn't wait that long, we are still waiting to try this place--sigh!

Trip Klaus said...

While I'm still deciding whether or not I like Facci, the Washingtonian gave them some love.

pizzablogger said...

Papa Blogger chimed in via text messaging while he was at Facci on Saturday. Very interesting in that we had just visited Neapolitan stand outs Paulie Gee's and Motorino East Village as part of our Spring 2010 NYC Pizza Tour just two days prior:

Papa Blogger: At Facci's

Papa Blogger: Pizza excellent tonight! Now for a pasta.

I notice the texts while out eating pizza myself. Me: How does it compare to Motorino East Village?

Papa Blogger: Actually......close. Cornicione not as puffy but raised sufficiently. Great place for a meal with wine. Entrees need to be shared.

Papa Blogger: Best meal out in a good while.

In a phone call later he mentioned the crust was not quite as flavorful as Motorino EV or Paulie Gee's, but that it was "in the ballpark".

That is pretty heavy praise from someone who has eaten some very good pizza. The camera and video is ready as apparently Facci is now running at full steam and is ready for a review. --K

Unknown said...

Facci has just become one of my very favorite restaurants in the area. I went for the first time this past weekend, and the Sophia Loren pasta was so fantastic, that I went back last night to have it again. The pizza is amazing, the wine prices very reasonable, and I plan to spend many an evening there.

Unknown said...

We stopped by there after a long hike with our dogs hoping to grab a sandwich or a pizza to go and were told we could only dine in - not do any sort of carryout. This was around 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon and they weren't busy at all - but they refused to do takeout. Since we had the dogs with us, there was no way we could stay and dine. I was disappointed with this ridiculous policy and how inflexible the staff was.

Pizzablogger said...

While this may be the first pizzeria in this area to do a no-carryout, there are areas where this is somewhat of a standard operating procedure.

I believe Esposito himself has mentioned the carry-out interferes with focusing on making pizzas for in-house patrons. It also makes it difficult to guage how much dough to make in a given day.

Now I realize you were there when it wasn't busy, but where would such a situational allowance of carry-out stop? For consistencies sake and fairness to everyone, a strict no-take out policy is the most fair IMHO.

If I were to open my own pizzeria (while a dream it can't be ruled out), I would most certainly not have a carry-out option. My primary purpose would be to focus on those in the house, not to the greatest number of people possible, which is a sure fire way to water the quality of a product down besides. You can't make everyone happy all of the time....

Unknown said...

Pizza Blogger, I completely understand that an establishment can't make everyone happy all the time, but for a restaurant just starting out, it would be nice to cater to as many as possible. Also, I completely agree that they should stick to one policy - but I think it is RIDICULOUS to have a ni carryout policy. Gino and Pilar are well-seasoned in carryout as well; all of their Pasta Blitz locations have carryout and appear to get quite a bit of business that way.

On another note, had we not had our dogs with us that afternoon, I highly doubt they would have wanted us - muddy, sweaty, and wearing hiking boots - sitting in their restaurant.

Pizzablogger said...

@Brooke: I hear you -- and I am often a sodden mess after trekking around with my dog as well :)

What Pasta Blitz is serving is an entirely different style of pizza. I know two other pizzamakers who serve Neapolitan pizza that would never offer take out. It's not because they are trying to be haughty, create a buzz or demand for seating, etc. It's because they are so passionate (you could say neurotic)about their product that they would never even consider having their pizza eaten in any other fashion than fresh out of the oven, period. To do otherwise would be a disservice to the diner and, more importantly, to the object which drives their passion.

Now, in Napoli, some places do have carts to sell their pizze to the passerby on the street, but that's another story.

Pizza demons, LET US LIVE IN PEACE! --K

Suzanne K Perlman said...

As far as I'm concerned, having no take out at Facci is appropriate since the pizza there is the best there is and should be served right out of the oven. Of course, in my humble opinion, Facci can do no wrong!!

Sanz said...

It's interesting that this is the most commented post in recent memory. It suggests to me that this restaurant is stirring up extreme passion on both the positive and negative side.

A couple more thoughts:

Pizzablogger said, "While this may be the first pizzeria in this area to do a no-carryout, there are areas where this is somewhat of a standard operating procedure."

Where? And if you say New York...

Pizzablogger said...

Sanz, you make a good point and that is one of the problems with electronic communications (and speedily doing it while at lunch break at that).

I should have qualified my statement better as, based on my travels, most anywhere in the country you go the majority of pizzerias do offer carry-out.

What I was trying to get at is that it is not unheard of in the artisinal pizza segment of the pizza world(which Facci is part of) to encounter a no-takeout policy....and that includes some pizzerias in NYC, even though the majority of pizzerias there selling the more oft encountered NY Style slice do offer takeout.

And I'm not saying ALL artisinal pizzerias do not allow take-out (indeed Motorino even delivers), but it's also not uncommon to encounter such a policy....and other cities/areas of the country are ahead of Maryland with regards to already having an artisinal pizzeria(s) established. My experiences in such places have shown me that I should not expect a place to offer take-out or I may be dissapointed.

Again, I am no pizza expert and I am not even sure Esposito is doing it for the same reasons I would, but if I ever got fortunate enough to open my own pizza place I would not offer take-out....and it would be for quality control reasons only, as I have already mentioned.

Unknown said...

I am probably one of the few people who have had carry-out Facci pizza. My wife got it just a few days after they opened and weren't crazy busy like they are now. And to their credit, they said they normally wouldn't do carry-out (she has a way of talking people into things!).

I have to say ... I agree with the "no carry-out" policy for quality control. The pizza we got was good, but was just lukewarm by the time we started eating it.

Now that I've had the "real thing" at Facci's -- excellent 'za -- I know I'll only be eating it within the restaurant's four walls.

If I could only get in ...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the no carry-out. Now that the patio is open I really don't see how they could do carry-out.

I've been there at least 8 times and recently the pizzas seem different. Somehow more "American" or more "suburban". A bit thicker crust on the edges. More even and in a perfect circle as if they have been "formed" by some sort of instrument. And also less goopy and a bit thicker. I'm a bit disappointed. Earlier they seemed more like real knive and fork Italian pizzas with a nice puddle of sauce in the middle and really thin crusts.

I wonder if the owners ended up changing based on American suburban tastes?

Or maybe it's just the nights I've been there. Hard to say.

@Brooke - I wouldn't worry about what you wear. It still amazes me what grown adults will wear out at night to semi-nice restaurans tehse days.

Cathy said...

Went to Facci for the first time tonight (Saturday.) We were told a 35 minute wait (about 6:45pm) and luckily it was only about 15 minutes. The outside patio area was closed due to the wind & cool weather, so the inside was quite packed.

The service was prompt, friendly & professional. And the food was definitely as good as we have heard! When other chains are cutting back on their portions, Facci is serving ample portions. The Caesar salad was huge! I got the Pappardelle w/creamy bolognese which was absolutely delicious! The noodles were perfectly al dente to my liking. My husband got the Gnocchi Sorentina in which he cleaned the plate.

I also ordered a side of the spinach, and rosemary tuscan potatoes to try. I was planning on taking those home, but sampled a bit while we were there, and both were also very good. You don't get much potato for your money, but they are quite flavorful. We didn't even think about dessert since we were both stuffed.

The draft beer was cold, although everyone around us was partaking in the wine.

I hope they will offer a different chicken option in the future, as the 3 options did not suite my tastes; and I'm not sure I'll like their style of Pizza, but I will probably try one for lunch one of these days.

Bottom line, this place is absolutely worth the wait! We will be coming here again for sure. Although, next time we may ride our bikes, or walk over to avoid the parking.

AlPal3 said...

I went here for lunch a few weeks ago and I thought the pizza was great. I didn't have any problem with the service either. I wasn't very hungry so I didn't get to sample the other items, but I want to go back for the meats and cheeses. I think the Fulton area has to be the best in HoCo for eating at this point, but that parking lot at Facci is a mess in the evening so I avoid it like the plague.

teter said...

food and bartenders and managers were horrible avoid this place. was a regular but these new guys will never replace james matt or jeff

Anonymous said...

Where's James, Jeff and Matt?! I haven't been there in a few months but those guys were awesome! Are you serious??? My next visit (yes, I will be coming back) won't be the same without them!

Facci has excellent food. Lisa better still be there!

Anonymous said...

We've been there several times, never had to wait, always sat outside. Our service there has bee spectacular. The wait staff at lunch on the weekends is outstanding. The key to getting great service might be getting there at off times. Our waitress told us the secret way to get takeout is to go to the bar,order a drink, and some food to go. Enjoy your drink while you wait for them to prepare your food.

Hey, it's sneaky, but I'd love to have a glass of wine to distract me while I wait.

Angie said...

Had to try it out so husband and I went last Friday night. We waited for our table for about 10 minutes which wasn't too bad at all. We chose to eat outside as it was a beautiful night. Our server was fantastic right from the start. We started with their Calamari and it was wonderful. Light and crispy, not greasy in the least. It came with a creamy horseradish type sauce and a heated marinara, both were delish! Next up were the Mediterranean salads full of fresh crispy vegetables in a light dressing. The pepperoncini were large and had great flavor. I had the Italian Garden pizza. The flavors were bright and the cheese was fantastic. The crust could have been a bit crispier for my taste and the spinach could have been spread a bit more evenly over the pizza. Husband had the Quattro Stagioni and said he really liked all of it but the Olive, because like my spinach it wasn't really spread out and thus he got one massive clump of olives that had cooked together on each piece. For dessert I had the newly arrived chocolate cake, moist, rich and very tasty. Husband went with the Cannoli and he said it was creamier than any he had in a while. All in all it was a great experience food and service and we will be going back!

Toby said...

I've been able to get into Facci a few times, even though it's still as crowded and as popular as ever. Of course the pizza is delicious, and the appetizers are yummy (I've stolen more than my share from my friends' plates, so I know). But I can't ever resist ordering the Shrimp Gondola AND the cannoli, to my waistline's dismay! Even the salads I've tried are tasty (when I'm trying to be more restrained). Each time I've been there, no matter how jam-packed, we've noticed how Lisa the manager always seems to have a real smile on her face, and we've watched her visit every table to check on things, chat a bit, and thank customers for coming in, while she's also managing the restaurant and juggling a million other things. Maybe part of the magic of Facci's popularity is because people like me not only really love the food and find it reasonably priced, but also feel as if Lisa and her team are really happy we came to Facci, really care about how we are treated while we are there, and really want us to have a good time. That's why we go out to dinner, and so many places forget that. So maybe that's why the crowds are still pouring into Facci, because of that special attention every time. After all, there are lots of restaurants out there serving good food at reasonable prices.

PizzaPoPo said...

Finally tried this place out last week for their neapolitan pizza. It was pretty decent, and probably some of the best in the Columbia area.

But, I noticed 2 really strange claims in their menu:

1) "Our imported wood burning oven was hand built by Neapolitan artisans"

- No, it was not. It's available from Made in Northern Italy, distributed in the USA.

(il Canale in DC / Pupatella or Orso in Northern VA - have true hand-built Neapolitan ovens)

2) "Our dough is made using imported organic Caputo flour"

- Caputo, while used in most Neapolitan places, only makes conventional flours. No organic ones.

Part of me hopes these were just mistakes that will be corrected on their next menu printing. Misleading info is not cool!

Dan said...

OK. So while I've eaten at Facci's before, tonight's experience was absolutely awful. We've known Lisa, the co-owner, for a little while now. She used to work at J&P's around the corner. Quite frankly, at this point, I'm a bit surprised that she's willing to put her name on this establishment.

First, after looking over the wine menu (this place does refer to itself as a wine-bar), I decided on a bottle of Piccini RISERVA Chianti Classico, relatively reasonably priced at $38.00. After much fumbling around, looking for a bottle that matched the label listed on the menu, the waiter, John, brings me a bottle of Piccini's standard Chianti Classico. The waiter explained to me that they were out of the Riserva, but had the regular Classico instead. I immediately explained to the waiter that this was not what was listed in the menu and he agreed and noted expressly that he would charge me accordingly, since the Riserva was not in stock.

So, after explaining that what was listed was not in stock, and after telling me that he would charge me accordingly, John, the waiter, came back and indicated that he just spoke with the other co-owner, who knowingly prepared the wine list with this error and that the price of $38.00 for the standard chianti classico was in fact correct.

Now, I'm sorry, but when a customer points out an error, and you admit that you're clearly peddling something that doesn't match your description, well, that's fraud in my book. I'm slightly more than inclined to call my credit card company and have them handle the charge reversal. What's worse? Asserting that the description was in fact a mistake, but the price is correct and insisting that, despite John's overtures to right the restaurant's error, the other co-owner, Geno, was demanding that the full price be paid.

No matter what this place advertises, it's a restaurant in LAUREL. The co-owners have clearly selected this area as they thought they could serve up nicer food with a nicer ambiance and pull the rug over the patron's eyes. If you want to order X and get Y, along with an explanation that the description is incorrect but that the price remains, then, by all means, piss your money away here. I'll eat elsewhere, not a place owned by a pretentious import who's too pompous to even come over to the table to acknowledge that HE made an error and that they would certainly correct it. Don't think that I'm too American to know the difference between a Chianti Classico and a Riserva Chianti Classico. Go back to Italy.

Second, this place has developed an awful infestation of fruit flies. Between the two of us, we killed three alone before our salad was through. Our dinner was peppered with both of us swatting, killing or otherwise shooing a seemingly incessant number of fruit flies. The straw that broke my back was one of these fruit flies deciding to go for a swim in my wine. Hopefully, the health department will force the restaurant to take some corrective actions. Before we were done, including the fly that kamikazed into my wine, we had killed 5 flies and there were plenty more hanging around.

To call the food here authentic Italian is to say that Olive Garden serves authentic food. While the food is palatable, it's generally over-salted, over-cooked and lacking in genuine flavor.

I won't be returning.

Janelle Wasmer Margolis said...

I originally reviewed Facci on Yelp, and gave them 5 stars. Having been there a number of times, I can no long allow my original "5 stars" rating (shortly after they opened) to stand. Here's a run-down of our most recent visit:

When we arrived, we ordered a bottle of Piccini Chianti Classico Riserva, menu price $38.00. Nearly 20 minutes went by (no appetizer order, nothing...) before our waiter came back to inform us that they were out of our wine selection. As he was speaking, someone else came running up with a bottle, saying he had found one. My husband immediately pointed out that this was NOT a bottle of Riserva, but was, rather, the straight Chianti Classico. Much less expensive bottle.

Our server assured us he would ask the bar tender, as Lisa was off for the evening, and Gino was eating. The bar tender said that was the Riserva, and that they had a regular Piccini Chianti on the menu, and showed us that bottle as evidence. Enter smart phones and Guys, THIS is what a bottle of Riserva looks like. THIS IS NOT THE CHIANTI RISERVA.

Our server then said he would adjust the price of the bottle down. Having been told that, we accepted the bottle, and poured.

Apparently Gino got wind of the situation, and informed our server that there was a typo in the menu, and that he had typed the wine list himself. Conveniently enough for Facci, the typo he claimed was that the word RISERVA shouldn't be there, but the price was correct. Steepest markup I've ever seen. Like...250% markup. You can get a bottle of regular Piccini Chianti for just over $10.

We were under the impression that the bottle would still be price adjusted, or that at the very least, Gino would behave like a competent owner who cares about his clientele, and come over and personally explain the situation to us. Neither happened, and we were charged $38 for a $10 bottle. Let's get rid of 2 stars.

Had our experience only been with a bait-and-switch wine list, we might be willing to return. The lack of any sort of customer service made it that much less likely. The HUGE turnoff though?

Facci's is overrun with fruit flies. Before our salads had arrived at the table, my husband and I had already killed 5. By the time our entree arrived, we were picking them out of our wine. NOT COOL. If I could have subtracted 3 stars, I would have, but Yelp only allows me to subtract another two. To say that waiving flies away, swatting them out of the air, picking them out of food and drinks was enough to kill whatever enjoyment we might have been able to scrape together after the wine.

Given the managerial response to the wine situation, we decided not to even bring it up, and asked for to-go containers. We had our food boxed up and left.

The food wasn't even that great. The beef carpaccio was FROZEN. As in stiff, still cold and frosty.

I HIGHLY DOUBT we will EVER, EVER, EVER return. And you can count on the fact that we will tell all our friends about this one. For a "neighborhood restaurant", giving the people IN your neighborhood this kind of experience is really unadvised.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Those last two posts are a bit disconcerting. We had some minor problems the first time we were there but blamed it on the newness of the place. We have returned several times since then to generally pleasant experiences. Granted I don't drink alcohol and the BF only drinks beer. We were just there last night and there's a big sign on the front about Facci's plan to expand their restaurant to the next door space in the spring. It also looks like takeout will be part of the business plan (a topic much discussed in this post a few months ago). Sorry I don't have a picture to share.

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