Updated with Final Thoughts Below…
A dinner/show at Randy Loren’s La Dolce Vita restaurant in Schenectady. A birthday celebration in my honor. With my mom and her childhood friend (both named Kathy, friends since 3rd grade. K2 – her new nickname – is my second mom).
I’m liveblogging it (my first time), as an experience with cultural and anthropological implications. Our reservation is at 8:00pm; updates will commence soon after. I hope you’ll follow along!
7:54. Seated right away. Ordered a glass of Riunite Lambrusco. Because it makes sense here. The view from our table:
757: Ordered zucchini wheels as an appetizer. Contemplating Chicken Dolce Vita as an entree (chx with capicola, peppers, olives, provolone). Old school eye-talian music playing over the PA.
827: Sauce here is pretty great. Loved it. Bread from Perreca’s. Yum. I’m having a great time. This place is kinda neat. And I’m frankly shocked that I haven’t run into anyone I know.
852: They just turned on the spinning disco ball. Uh oh. Food decent; a lot of it kinda cold. Served a glass of wine full of ice; sent it back, got watered down wine. Sent back again, got correct wine. Hm. Chicken Dolce Vita:
903: Band takes the stage: The Rogues.
This place reminds me of that scene in Goodfellas when Ray Liotta takes Lorraine Bracco to the club and they set a special table up for them. Just like that.
941: Band playing “Satisfaction”; dance floor is packed! People are having a great time.
I’m on my third glass of wine.
948: I’m getting worried. I think they’re planning to embarrass me for my birthday. And now they’re playing Aimee by Pure Prairie League. Love this song. Reminds me of college.
1013: They made me get up and dance to “Today is Your Birthday”. After I zipped up my fly (damn jeans) I got up and busted a move. Now I’m out of breath AND old.
1034: I’m getting tired. Jesus, how the hell old am I?
The Next Day – Final Thoughts:
It was difficult to post updates last night – I felt like a dork typing on my phone while everyone else was dancing and singing.
I was probably not the youngest one there (I noticed some scowling teenagers and twenty-somethings having dinner with their parents and grandparents), but this place definitely caters to an older Italian clientele. The atmosphere was very old school Vegas showlounge-y, with a platform stage, a shimmery silver backdrop, giant dance floor, and spinning lighted disco ball. It was kitschy, but the patrons seemed to enjoy it. Especially the two ladies who were dressed as Peggy Lipton in the Mod Squad.
The food? Eh. Mediocre. Not inedible, but nothing special. The chicken dish was tasty, and their tomato sauce was quite good. The sides (roasted potatoes, seasoned carrot coins) arrived pretty much cold, like they’d been sitting in the dishes on a table in the back, waiting until someone ordered them. And the dessert was a pre-portioned tiramisu-like thing topped with whipped cream and a cherry. The whole dinner service reminded me of an Elks Club dinner. If Randy really wanted to make this place special, he’d make sure the food was brought out hot, and served on nicer dishes (he’s got the same ones you find at any Chinese buffet or school cafeteria). But maybe people don’t come here for the food. I don’t know.
I was especially irked at the whole wine thing that I briefly mentioned above. When I ordered my first glass of Lambrusco, the waitress brought me the glass alongside a highball glass full of ice, telling me the wine was not chilled enough. It actually was chilled just fine – it should not be ice-cold. I never used the ice (I hate ice in wine – it’s wrong). When she brought me the second glass, it was half full of ice, like a sangria. I told her I didn’t want ice in my wine, and she returned it to the bartender, who merely STRAINED OUT THE ICE AND SENT BACK A GLASS OF WATERED DOWN WINE. Seriously. I sent that one back, too, and asked for an un-iced, undiluted glass. I can’t believe I had to ask that (the waitress was awesome about it – it was really a bartender problem). Perhaps the little old ladies who frequent Randy’s prefer their Lambrusco on ice – but the bartender should not assume that to be the case with everyone.
Don’t get me wrong – this restaurant has its place, and people really seem to enjoy it. I wish him success.
Last night, when I was going out to dinner with Paula for our 7th anniversary, we had a bizarre experience. We went to La Dolce Vita, on Union St, Scdy, and were “greeted” by the owner. He started by telling me that he didn’t appreciate the last time that I was in the restaurant that we mistreated the wait staff. I told him that no such thing happened, and the waitress that waited on us the last time was standing just to his left, and that he should ask her. He just continued to accost me, verbally, and said that he knew it was me and the we had mistreated the waitress, and that he didn’t want us in his restaurant. Despite the waitress agreeing that she recognized us, and that she didn’t remember any bad behavior, he continued to tell us he didn’t want us in his restaurant. He then offered to call the police if we didn’t leave. As we were leaving he said he was particularly upset at my wife’s bad behavior the last time that we were there.
Having eaten here in the past, i would only go with a Groupon, or some other discount, because the food has never been worth the full price on the menu.