We dropped in on the spur of the moment. We had been watching the place, Raia's Italian Market, come along and our interest was piqued, besides, I had heard different things about the place while working.
It was Friday and we did not have a reservation and the place was on a short wait. I am assuming it was the owners who were on premise and participating in the evening, which was nice to see. We were offered drinks while we waited and were seated before finishing them.
It's a quaint little place with a marketplace atmosphere. You can buy Italian meats and cheeses and anti pasti at the counter for take home or you can enjoy a meal at the store. Shelves for browsing and shopping are set amidst the sufficiently sized dining room. The patio was unused due to weather.
The wine list was small but well conceived, offering a nice variety of Mediterranean wines at good prices.
The food was quite nice and seem to be house prepared, for the most part. The calamari was quite good. The Rotunno pizza was not so great.
Once seated our service was slow and well, not smooth. The server was new to the store and new to service, I assume. His uniform was not crisp, but it fit in with his colleagues. He was friendly, but lost in what he was doing. And we were in a corner, just out of view of anyone who could help.
We ordered a round of drinks, of which, only one came. When I asked if we could get a half order of Calamari, something every other family owned Italian restaurant in this city would do, we were told unceremoniously "No." Our server never offered to check with the kitchen. At least lie to me and tell me my request is special enough for managerial consideration. Instead, simply "No."
The restroom was clean, but the hall leading to it was teeming with dry goods. Not in an organized, intentional fashion, but more in a "put it anywhere" type of style.
Lastly, we observed a manager or shift leader smoking in the parking lot while on duty. Not good. we almost didn't go in.
The owners were there, the people were friendly and the food was pretty good. All positive in concept. But the details missed amount to an opportunity lost on us.
Some of the issues, I am sure, stem from the place's rapid growth and management's struggle to keep up, but there were many, many details being missed. Meanwhile, there are more choices coming to Washington Ave.
After a few months, I imagine many of the kinks will be worked out and the service will be much smoother. The place is worth a try, but go on a slow night or try takeout, because the food was worth the visit.