Normally one of, if not my favorite restaurant in Orlando...I've been going here on my annual trip to Orlando, for probably 12 years or so. I come down to Orlando once a year for a conference, and then an occasional visit to meet with clients. Every single time I am here, I go to Christini's. I've never had anything but an excellent meal and experience...always...I've posted about them, raved about it, and just always enjoyed it very much...until tonight.
While the place was crowded, the first thing I noticed is that Chris Christini, the owner, was not there tonight. First time ever I haven't seen him. No big deal. We were seated and while the service initially was attentive -- we felt rushed. Then, it got worse. All around. We had to ask multiple times for water and bread. We ordered drinks, which took a rather long time, and when looking to order another, we had to wait and really ask hard for someone to take our order. When the waiter finally came for the order he said "I was waiting for you as I thought you were going to order wine, you had the wine list, so I waited for you to be ready to order wine" -- and my thinking was that he wasn't waiting for anything as he didn't come back to the table at all -- not for wine, drinks, he didn't come back at all! Foolish excuse. We ordered appetizers and salads. First, I ordered the gnocchi bolognese -- a pasta entree, but all of their pasta entrees are available as appetizers. Now, I don't look at prices -- especially at this type of place, I know it's "pricey" -- but it's high-end, fine dining, and you know why you are there, so that's that. My appetizer came and I got 5 gnocchi, with the bolognese sauce dished out sparingly. I was very disappointed. Second, my two friend split a caesar salad -- and each was given a small bread plate, with approximately 4 fork-full's of salad. Quality, taste-wise -- the gnocchi was OK, a bit overcooked, and the bolognese sauce was somewhat bland. The salad was fair at best, soft and overdressed with dressing, thus, drenched and not firm, substance, etc.
Service got worse -- drinks were ordered with lime, and didn't come with it, water glasses remained empty, and plates were not cleared until asked. The waiter was MIA numerous times.
I got the bone-in veal parm -- 16 oz -- a house speciality. It is not a special, but on the menu...$67.50 I think. It was good. Not as good as I remember. Four cheeses, very good balance with the right amount of sauce. The veal was soft, too soft, but had good flavor and taste, coupled with the cheese and sauce, the latter having a nice flavor. The other entrees were good. Portion size is down -- very much here.
This place has slipped in my mind. I would be willing to consider it was an off-night, and next time I am here, I'll try again, but if it is not back to where I know it was...then it has slipped. When the bill came, it was simply the credit card signature page. I asked "don't I get an itemized bill" -- and the waiter said "of course, we normally do bring that first, but in this case we were waiting." I looked at him, simply curious, and said "Waiting for what?" and he gave me some vague nonsensical answer before simply saying "I am sorry, I'll get it for you right now." Very foolish. I can put up with mistakes -- but not excuses which make no sense whatsoever.
Anyway, I enjoyed a night out with friends and came back to the hotel, enjoyed a drink and a wonderful cigar.