I was monumentally disappointed in Mediterraneo. Entering, I was generally pleased. It's a very pretty restaurant with all the architecture and design I'd expect from a supposed 4-Diamond eatery. The architecure was classy, the tables looked well-dressed, and the overall feeling was of subdued trendyness.
We had called ahead for our table and were greeted by a maître d' who was brusque at best. We were shooed upstairs where we waited around for five minutes. The upstairs was cold. Like, really cold. Sixty-degrees kind of cold. I found it acceptable, but my partner was shivering. After this random wait for a table that was supposedly set, we were sat and given water.
It took them over ten minutes to bring us our bread which was so tough that my partner had to stop halfway through her second piece because her jaw hurt. We were about to order our appetizers when we were informed we must order all at once. I'm unsure of as to why, but so be it. Another ten minutes pass before our server returns. It's now almost 30 minutes in and we have only bread. Finally, the server returns to take our orders. Our appetizer comes out, mozzarella en carozza. For $9 we got a single piece of glorified fried mozzarella. I've had its equal at places not much better than Olive Garden. It was good, certainly, but for $9 we got $.89 worth of food. It came with some random mixed greens as to seemingly say, sorry for the overpriced piece of cheese you've ordered, so have this cheap salad to help explain the cost.
Our entrees arrive. My partner's Filetto di Maialo pork loin is truly excellent. At $25, it's a bargain. The pork was tender and juicy, the breading and horseradish sauce were perfectly seasoned, and the potatoes on the side were wonderfully done. In fact, it was so good I wish I had gotten it. My ravioli all' aragosta is technically perfect, but is nothing special for $25. Yes, it comes with lobster and shrimp, but I can have similar foods for $5, maybe $8 cheaper at a number of places. At least here, the sauce is excellent. As I say, Italian food lives and dies by its sauce, and this sauce was very good.
Our desserts arrive. My molten lava cake is bad. Very bad. It's dry, luke-warm, with what could be gelato or ice cream on top. Either way, it's bad gelato/ice cream. The house-made whipped cream is good, if that makes up for anything. My partners gnutella mousse is very good, though. Rich and flavorful, it's a success, but kind of expensive. But it's got nothing on mine. Over $10 for bad cake. BAD CAKE. I can nary think of a greater crime.
All the while, an army of seemingly confused servants wander about ignoring us. I was never given water without directly asking. The tables had butchers' paper on them. You may think that picking a nit, but for such a trendy, expensive place as this, there better be a God-damned table cloth on my table. Another detail that just chapped my ass the entire night was the windows. The windows were dirty. Dirty as though they hadn't been cleaned in days, perhaps weeks. A nice thing about the upstairs is the aerial view of Atwells, where you can watch all the mid-life crisis men driving by in their Ferraris. To have that view sullied by handprints is unacceptable. The windows should be cleaned nightly.
The night finished nicely enough. Our waitress, freed from some mysterious obligations somewhere in the depths of restaurant, suddenly was aware of our existence and we received some attention. I ordered a cappuccino, which was very strong and well-brewed. Our night concluded with a complimentary shot of house-made Limoncello for a digestif. It was very good, and ice cold. Just the way it should be. Still, the good entrees and free drink can only do so much. AAA's Four-Diamond means a place of dining nirvana, not this train wreck. If AAA were to review Mediterraneo that night, their award would be stripped away, no questions asked. I expected a lot from Mediterraneo, and got very little.
I originally wrote this review for Citysearch.com. Since then, their Four-Diamond review has indeed been revoked, reduced to a Three-Diamond. Also of interest, at 11:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays it turns into some latin dance club where the bleary-eyed night-lifers of Providence swarm. I recommend avoiding it like the plague.
Price range for two: $50-$100
134 Atwells Ave
Providence, RI 02903
Winter Hours: October - May
Monday through Thursday 11:30am to 9:00pm
Friday 11:30 am to 10:00pm
Saturday 11:30am to 11:00pm
Sunday 3:00pm to 9:00pm
Summer Hours: June - September
Monday through Thursday 11:30am to 10:00pm
Friday 11:30am to 11:00pm
Saturday 5:00pm to 11:00pm
Sunday 5:00pm to 10:00pm