When I fancy a cheap Italian, I normally head to Donatello’s (http://www.qype.co.uk/place/66800-Ristorante-Donatello-Brighton) in The Lanes. Seeing as Pinocchio’s is owned by the same people and has exactly the same menu, I thought I’d head here for a change of scenery. I’ve heard appalling things in the past from friends about their service, but I wanted to find out for myself.
At first glance, Pinocchio’s is perfectly pleasant – all bistro-style tables and gingham tablecloths. We were seated upstairs by two very welcoming members of staff and our drinks order was promptly taken. So far, so good. After perusing the familiar menu, one very nice waiter informed us of their ‘special’ dish – meatballs with either pasta or rice. Being gluten-intolerant I thought offering an alternative to pasta was a nice touch, so I went for it as part of the set menu along with garlic mushrooms to start. The starter came out quickly and was, well, exactly the same as Donatello’s. Still good. Then the main course came out. It was, in essence, a bed of risotto rice topped with six meatballs and generic tomato sauce poured on top. Not so good. I could have made it myself and done a much better job – I should have stuck with my gluten-free carbonara. To make matters worse, after the waitress said she’d go and get parmesan and black pepper, we watched her serve two other people and stand chatting to her colleague before finally looking over to us and seeing us waiting for her. True, she was very apologetic, but still…
So, after a slightly disappointing main course, I decided I’d give them a chance to redeem themselves with dessert. Although there’d been less than ten minutes between our starter and main, our dessert didn’t arrive until after 20 minutes I called someone over to ask what had happened to it. It was then brought over immediately by the fifth person to have served us that evening. I had my usual Coppa Pietro (lemon sorbet, meringue, whipped cream and lemon sauce) and it was as lovely as ever.
I don’t mean to do the staff a disservice, as nobody was rude and they all seemed like lovely people, but they were highly disorganised and didn’t really seem to know what they were doing. I’d hate to go here in a larger group as I’m sure it would be a total disaster. I think I’ll stick with Donatello’s in future.