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My fiery Latina rant of the week…

posted on August 2, 2009 at 8:54 am

Moon and I have been regulars of Varasano’s since they opened–we love our pizza. One thing that has always irked me–aside from the severe inconsistency with the pies–is how self-important Varasano seems and the trickle down effect on the service. I don’t know why, but I hate being asked if this is my first time dining somewhere. And it happens every single time I go to Varasano’s, where the mostly inept servers launch into a long Stepford-esque spiel about Jeff’s many accomplishments (including the Rubik’s Cube nerdfest), all of the national press he’s received and direct you to that horrible slideshow on the front plasma. I took it all in stride because I love(d) Varasano’s pizza on its good days–even though I have yet to see Jeff in the kitchen on any of my numerous visits. But, people, this inane table tent pushed me over the edge last weekend.

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I understand you may need to explain certain details of particular dining styles if we are taking about a churrascaria for instance. But do we really need to be told how to eat pizza??? I find it insulting and equally ridiculous that the signage seemingly indicates that eating the pizza with a knife and fork is taboo. Well, here is a little truth: This is NOT a New York street slice. You actually do need a knife and fork lest the inherent juiciness ruin your favorite outfit. Pure douchebaggery.
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And while I am ranting, I have to add that our last visit was less than stellar. Actually, the pizza was incredibly bland and soggier than ever. Moon actually looked a little heartbroken and sadly whispered the place “has lost its magic.” I couldn’t have agreed more. And Moon Junior stopped eating it after two slices, which is extremely abnormal for a child that *LOVES* pizza and will eat just about anything–even chicken feet at dim-sum.
I am by no means damning Jeff’s restaurant or attempting to discredit him. But the truth is the truth. The service is and has been horrible since the place opened. And the pizza is as temperamental as my Jew fro. You can’t phone it in when it comes to restaurants. And doing so in this economy is pure suicide.
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34 comments

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 2, 2009  9:34 AM

    I couldn't agree more. While the pizza is 'pretty good' definitely not great I can't stand being told about something and their accomplishments over and over. Thus I don't go there anymore and only went 2 times because I can't stand arrogance.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: BuHi · August 2, 2009  10:10 AM

    Interesting. This is exactly why I refuse to go to "hype" restaurants. I have been let down far too many times by the BS that comes from places that are "it".

    Unfortunately, the customer service problem is endemic in Atlanta, both in food service and elsewhere. (We've actually had several waves of this since I moved to Atlanta in 1989). Keep speaking up and maybe it will change.

    Hopefully we'll soon end this pretentious food phase ($40 hamburgers, effete pub food, cliquish restaurants)…

    Would be nice to see more sincere, honest restaurants show up.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Carl · August 2, 2009  10:25 AM

    My last (and I do mean last) visit was nearly three months ago. I'm over the drama, hype, and inconsistency. Last time I had dinner at Pizza Fusion I overheard other diners (from NY) referring to Varasano's as "a joke."

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · August 2, 2009  10:27 AM

    We always have BuHi, Smyrna, Marietta and Duluth. I know some people hate the drive, but I live bear the Dome and work it out.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Ciambellina · August 2, 2009  11:06 AM

    I haven't eaten at Varasano's yet but would like to see what all the hype is about.

    I did see that Jeff said in an interview that he does not cook the pizzas at the restaurant — he said making and cooking the pizzas day after day "is not his thing."

    Needless to say, that caught my attention.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 2, 2009  11:22 AM

    I too had a mixed experience there recently. I find the policy of serving the pizzas as soon as they come out — regardless if the entire table's order is ready, to be lame.

    We had a 4-top and one person's pizza came out a good 10 minutes before anyone else. Makes for awkwardness for everyone involved.

    I would put Shorty's and even Osteria 832 up against Varasano's if you're looking for good thin crusts. And both places don't have the attitude. We also enjoyed a great tomato and basil pie at Savage Pizza recently.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: pointedview · August 2, 2009  12:35 PM

    Preach it, my sister foodie! :) I hate being asked if this is my first time, and I loathe table monologues. I've come to your restaurant to eat, not to test your servers' oratory. If I have a question, I'll ask. Furthermore, pimping your press only creates higher expectations for your product, and if you don't deliver your patrons will likely depart with a worse impression than if your staff had kept quiet. Let the food stand on its own merit.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: tanline · August 2, 2009  5:03 PM

    Douchbaggery? I had to look that one up… ;-)

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Stephie Z · August 3, 2009  5:24 AM

    "As temperamental as my Jew fro" Please, oh please can I use this line. So perfect and fits me to a tee!

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: foodnearsnellville · August 3, 2009  5:33 AM

    You know, I lived and worked in Philadelphia for two years, and New York City was a 90 minute Amtrak train ride from where we lived (and 30th Street Station was a long walk or an easy bus ride away).

    But to the point. When I reviewed Jeff's pizza, I didn't compare it to New York pizza because it was nothing like New York style. It's far closer to 'Saint Louis style' pizza in its thinness. You know, like Imo's Pizza, for those who have been to Saint Louis. And it makes it so thin it handles differently, and the toppings can steam out the crust quickly.

    And to be contrary, I never had bad service at Jeff's. It was quite good when I took my family.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 3, 2009  6:29 AM

    So true. Great pizza some times and purely average other times. At least the staff is consistent though – weak. Also, you can't call and order take out – you have to go there and order it to go. Perhaps this guy has forgotten that he is making pizza, not miracles. Get real before you are cast back to the internet, Mr. Varasano.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 3, 2009  10:18 AM

    The pizza is only slightly better than average, the hype train has jumped the tracks and the space is a joke.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 3, 2009  10:43 AM

    Last week:
    server: "Is this your first time at Versano's?"
    me: "no.. i have been here a few times"
    server: "well we have changed our menu, so let me tell you about the changes"

    Thoughts in my head (not spoken out of politeness):
    1. "If your menu has changed, why does it matter if this is not my first time here?"
    2. "Yes, I noticed the menu has changed… three of the pizza's I have ordered before are no longer on the menu. Just because I like pizza and beer doesn't mean I'm illiterate"

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 3, 2009  11:13 AM

    Varasano's has jumped the shark.

    Maybe it's time to rename it Fonzarelli's!

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 3, 2009  1:10 PM

    agree. i prefer buford hwy, marietta, and home cooking over most atlanta restaurants.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 3, 2009  2:09 PM

    I went this weekend and my crust was over-charred. When will they become consistent?!?

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 3, 2009  6:12 PM

    Their lack of consistency with respect to their food, and their consistently bad service, will be their downfall.

    I have been several times and each time the pizza has been different. One third of the time it has been excellent, one third of the time it has been mediocre, and one third of the time it has been bad.

    The service has been consistently pretentious and absurd. The first time I went I honestly didn't know who "Jeff" was, and the server kept talking about this "Jeff" guy like he had just descended from Mount Olympus to bake me a pizza. Then the server started talking about how fast this "Jeff" could solve a Rubik's Cube, and while I was trying to figure out what the hell that had to do with baking a pizza she kept throwing other random facts at me about "Jeff" with a wild-eyed look befitting a brainwashed North Korean reciting the superhuman feats of Kim Jong-il.

    She gave me explicit instructions as to how to eat my meat and cheese plate, and also how to eat my pizza, which I defied just out of spite.

    What an odd group of people, completely nerded out on the pizza that they can't even make consistently well, and completely clueless on the fact that they are in the hospitality business.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 3, 2009  6:21 PM

    i despise being asked if its my first time at a restaurant, nothing
    if you are in atlanta and want "authentic", pizza just go to fritti

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Jim L. · August 4, 2009  4:25 AM

    Shut it down

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 4, 2009  4:55 AM

    What does Miss Manners have to say about eating pizza?

    http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food/manners/eat-pizza-oct01

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 4, 2009  5:32 AM

    We have been twice, and are actually going again this week (now feeling guilty). But each time we have gone the pizza was great, and the service was just weird. The oddest thing was the second time we went, my wife asked them to add onions to the nana's pizza. Raw or cooked, whatever was fine. The server acted really nervous and mumbled "um, hm, I don't know if Jeff will allow this. He says it changes the entire taste of the pizza". My wife was like, "um, hm, yeah, I know; that's the point." So, off she went to tell the kitchen. It was never brought up again, and the pizza showed up with no onions. I guess next time we can just bring our own onions? They acted like my wife asked for Jeff to personally take a shizz on the pizza. Well, we are introducing our friends to the place this week and I am nervous.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 4, 2009  7:26 AM

    I would suggest we "stick a fork" in Varasano's but forks aren't permitted…

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Sudhir · August 4, 2009  11:29 AM

    I have seen some pretty egregious ways to eat food like putting slices of picked ginger on top of nigiri, but come on, no one needs to be told how to eat pizza. Maybe if it's your first time somewhere fairly out of the mainstream like Korean or Ethopian, but if you are 30 years old, you've probably been eating pizza for 26 years or more.

    I admit to putting some chefs on a pedestal, but if Blais or Quatrano or Hopkins ever had their staffs tell me how great they were, I'd probably never go back. Humility goes a long way.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 4, 2009  4:36 PM

    If there's one thing I hate it's a pizza nazi.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 5, 2009  6:03 PM

    I just can't stand the fact that 2 or 4 people can't have all their pizzas at the same time.
    Somehow every place in Italy can do it, yet here they make excuses that it just can't be done.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 6, 2009  5:00 AM

    After half a dozen visits to V's I'm consistently unimpressed. Consistency or lack thereof can make or break a restaurant. A cheeseburger in any of the thousands of McDonalds tastes the same. If a single site restaurant can't achieve this level of consistency with pizza of all things, especially when the proprietor has set himself up as some pizza making wunderkind, is truly pathetic. It looks like he wasted all that time and effort to design the utmost in production equipment when competent kitchen staff would have been a better investment.

    V's needs to take itself a whole lot less seriously and focus on consistency,of product and execution, and vastly improving service.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Atlanta Vegetarian · August 6, 2009  5:40 PM

    I loved the pizza on my first trip and was so disappointed my second time around.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 9, 2009  6:22 PM

    i haven't tried it, but will say no thanks. I think Fritti nicely combines the good pizza and atmosphere I like, and they never raise an eyebrow when my wife asks for them to cook her pizza "well done."

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: daily slave wage earner · August 12, 2009  9:07 AM

    So what exactly is going on with this post?

    Bliss, were you upset that the server did not remember you or somehow not realize who you are and what incredible culinary power you wield over your readership?

    For me, the table tent in question inspired a more cheeky and fun spirit to the dining experience overall but good humour aside, maybe the need to be insulted by it is a result of a lack of positive attitude because last time I checked, the staff at Varasanos always provided a knife and fork to every guest.

    Here is something for your consideration:

    Locally owned and operated restaurants in Atlanta truly need to be supported and not so readily condemned for the somewhat bizarre reactionary nonsense that has been presented here.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · August 12, 2009  9:42 AM

    daily slave wage earner:

    My problem with Varasano's is the amount of ego that permeates the entire restaurant and the fact that the service and food do not back it up most of the time. I'd rather spend my money at other local spots with consistent food and a humble owner.

    It seems other patrons—at least those who commented above—feel the same way. And I have received many private comments from local chefs and servers supporting my comments. Nobody likes to be hit over the head with hype.

    Your implication that my rant—which is exactly what my post was—was brought on by not being recognized is quite funny. While I do daydream about being chased by paparazzi and crazed fans with autograph books, the sad reality is that this is only a BLOG that caters to a very small percentage of Atlanta's dining public. I “wield” little “power” over my readers. I like to think they are smart enough to decide their feelings for themselves.

    And just a p.s. re: your last line about supporting “Locally owned and operated restaurants”: Have you forgotten how much Jeff bashed other local pizza spots on his original website? That doesn’t seem very community friendly to me.

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 12, 2009  11:53 AM

    "And just a p.s. re: your last line about supporting “Locally owned and operated restaurants”: Have you forgotten how much Jeff bashed other local pizza spots on his original website? That doesn’t seem very community friendly to me."

    amazingly well said, kudos

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: BuHi · August 13, 2009  5:37 AM

    daily slave wage earner:

    "Locally owned and operated restaurants in Atlanta truly need to be supported…" – does this mean "regardless"?

    I agree they should be supported – as long as they merit support. All of the comments and reviews I've been reading have pretty much said the food is inconsistent and overrated, and the owner is arrogant in his insistence that his food is the best.

    "Reactionary"? Part of interaction with anyone or anything is "reaction". Without that, you have "indifference" – which for a restaurant means "death". Seems to me that's is better for a young restaurant to get some honest, open negative feedback so it can correct to what it's customers are demanding, than to sit in silence wondering why everyone has stopped coming in….

    And I don't see where anyone said "f**k'em – go to Pizza Hut", so what's your point?

    Here is something for your consideration:
    Most national chain restaurants are franchises and are "locally owned and operated restaurants". McDonald's for lunch anyone?

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Anonymous · August 18, 2009  12:10 PM

    How about I go if I like the food and I dont go if I dont like the food?

    Or is that dining philosophy not allowed….

  • Re: My fiery Latina rant of the week…
    posted by: Chicago Pizza is the Only Pizza · August 18, 2009  6:50 PM

    Can't we all just agree that NO ONE can make decent pizza in Atlanta? I mean, even pizza in NYC is better than anything I've ever had in Atlanta. ;)

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