Like most couples on their anniversary, celebrating the occasion while dining out is very common. For our anniversaryÂ this would be one crazy dining experience.
With a “strong”suggested( as recommended on Mia website) dinner reservation for 7pm we arrive 15 minutes early, full of anticipation, hungry, and anxious to be seated. First impressions are important and the dark wood tables, subdued lighting and great furniture pieces give Mia an upscale look. While standing at the hostess station, we couldn’t help noticing that the dining room was empty, less 4 tables and with no host or staff in attendance. After a 5 minute wait and with no attention to our presence, we decided to call the restaurant in hopes that someone would come to the deskÂ and recognize that we were standing there. The idea worked as what turned out to be the waiter/owner rushed to respond to the ringing phone. Although we shared a laugh and thought it was kind of funny, we thought it would be a good way to get some one to notice us.
With only 4 other tables we expected service to be quick but that thought slowly faded as we waited 5 more minutes for menus and water. Again, theÂ waiter/owner greeted us with the menus and asked us questions such as “have we ever dined here before?” We told him that we believed we had some years back but the menu was very different and perhaps we were wrong. As it turned out, it is the same place but the menu was changed. He also told us that he believed he had the “best food in Ocean County”. I found that to be a pretty strong statement with Villa Amalfi and Il Giardenellos serving the same style food, right in his backyard. Regardless we looked over the menu and found some interesting and refreshing choices.
I chose the Veal Chop Milanese and the wife opted for the Filet Mignon. I also asked if I could have my pasta side with their house sauce that was spicy and light tomato based. My wife asked if the vegetable (broccoli) was frozen and the owner insured us that he only uses fresh vegetables, sauteed with butter and seasonings.We also ordered side salads as they do not come with the meal. I was told the Bleu cheese dressing was excellent so my wife chose that and I went with a Balsamic dressing.
At 7:55 pm, an hour and 10 minutes after being seated, our salad was served. All the time we waited we noticed no other servers but a young woman who bussed the tables and poured water. It seems the owner was the only person serving meals this evening. That would not have been a problem if one, he made it clear to us that they had a situation and two, he served us cheese, an appetizer or even our salads, while we waited. There is only so much bread a person can eat while waiting an hour for dinner.
Salads were nothing out of the norm and the Bleu cheese dressing wasn’t anything more than the bottled type you would find in any restaurant. We were expecting crumbled cheese at the very least, but instead received the basic creamy dressing. Our dinners followed shortly after and didn’t do much more to make our experience any better. My Veal Chop was so thick that it was under cooked and completely raw close to the bone. I was under the impression that the chop would be pounded thin while still on the bone, breaded and sauteed until crisp like most Milanese dishes I have eaten in the past. While it wasn’t a problem exchanging it for the Veal Cutlet Milanese, and although it was very good(sauteed not fried), I was disappointed that the cutlet weighed in about 3 ounces while the original chop was closer to 10 ounces. That in itself was okay if the price would have reflected such a difference, but alas it did not. My Rigatoni’s in the house sauce were very tasty but the sauce was too thin, didn’t stick to the pasta, and the peppers should have been diced instead of whole so as to get the most flavor and also to fit on the fork. No one wants a Fra Diavolo type sauce with whole Pepperoncini’s in it. My wife’s filet while tasty, was not tender enough to cut with a fork, which has always been a tell tale sign of a great steak. We would not have expected a “great” meal if the owner hadn’t boasted about how they had the best food in the County. Great food speaks for itself and doesn’t need the owner to brag about it.
We did however, experience some good and unexpected customer service before paying for the dinner. The owner gave us a 20% discount for the uncooked Veal dish and didn’t charge me for having the house sauce on my side pasta. That goes a long way with me as most places attempt to charge for dishes that patrons don’t care for or eat, and rarely offer a gesture like a discount for the inconvenience.
So with mixed feelings about our visit, I would have to say that I probably would give this establishment the benefit of the doubt and try Mia one more time, if only for the fact that the owner recognized the mistakes and offered to make good on them.
Regular Guy Rating * * *
1214 Rte #7 East
Toms River NJ 08753
732 929 0595