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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Italian Soho Moderate Don't Bother


There are several kinds of restaurant in New York City. There are those that serve great food, but miss the mark on service. Then there are those places that overflow with hospitality but that offer food that stumbles along a bumpy road. And then there are those rare restaurants that manage to breed both thoughtful and knowledgeable service with simply beautiful cuisine. In the often-debated foodie issue of what is worse—bad food or bad service—I’d rather have sub par food with great service, than the other way around. At least when you have good service, you are in a place where people care that you are not pleased and will hopefully do something to change it or make your visit as pleasant as possible. If you are eating good food and the service is bad—you can’t place your order, you don’t have a fork to eat with, your wine glasses languish empty for hours—your entire experience is ruined.

But the other night I experienced a rare and unfortunate combination—bad food and bad service, at Ama, a sleek Pugliese restaurant on MacDougal Street owned by Donatella Arpaia, the beautiful co-owner of David Burke and Donatella. I was quite surprised to have had such a bad experience, because I had read glowing reviews of her little place. Unfortunately, at least on the night I dined at Ama, it was a restaurant that fell into a category all its own—a lazy, could-care-less restaurant without an ounce of passion or spirit; a thoughtless place with a kitchen serving lousy fare. In short, Ama, was a disgrace.

I had dinner there last week, on a stormy night that followed an all too humid day. My friend Michael and I were ignored as we entered, a waiter pushing past us to get to a computer, and a bartender continuing his telephone conversation. NOTE TO RESTAURATUERS: Greeting guests who enter your restaurant to dine is important. You should actually stop and say hello. We are not there to stand around and stare at the four walls.

While waiting for someone to welcome us, I spied Ms. Arpaia perched next to a writer I know from The New York Times’ “T” Magazine. As she fawned over the press, Ms. Arpaia could not be bothered with monitoring the rest of the room. In fact, she sat with her back to the door for at least 45 minutes, oblivious to the service flaws in her restaurant, before leaving for the evening. Way to go Donatella!

Eventually the bartender noticed us and seated us at a table—a deuce along the ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in Soho :
+ Balthazar   + Savoy   + Blue Ribbon   + Lupa   + Public   + Kittichai   + Lure Fishbar   + Barmarche   + Porcupine-- CLOSED   + Ama   + La Esquina   + Jerry's- Closed Now   + The Tasting Room   + Papatzul   + Shorty's.32   + The Monday Room   + Ed's Lobster Bar   + Aurora   + Provence   + Tailor   + Hundred Acres   + Delicatessen, By Guest Reviewer Julie Besonen   + The Mott   + The Dutch   + Cherrywood, by Guest Reviewer Dara Pollak   

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