2724 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 447-1000
Ever watch one of those antique shows, where some poor schmuck brings on a rare "antique" lamp on to be appraised? You know the lamp that his Great-Great-Great Grandma Gertrude strapped to her back and brought with her on the boat from Poland that's supposedly 100% gold? The lamp that the appraiser inevitably flips over and rubs the bottom with his thumb to...lo and behold...uncover in tiny script the words, "Made in Taiwan"? Well, that's what Gianni's reminds me of. At first glance, its sleek Tiffany blue colored tables and exposed brickwork radiates an oh-so South Beach hipster cool but a little rub with the thumb uncovers a multitude of imperfections in its polished facade.
Let me explain...Gianni's was our choice for our January girls' night out. We entered the establishment around seven o'clock on a Friday and were greeted by a polite silver haired gentleman within seconds and were assured that we would be seated shortly. True to his word, the host ushered us over to a nice roomy booth within five minutes. Wonderful! From that point on though, the night pretty much went downhill. Now I'm a pretty easy going customer, I don't expect my waiters to channel Mr. Belvedere and wait on me hand and foot but our waiter that night took the term piss poor service to a whole new level. Seriously, when the service wasn't non-existent it was horrendous. Our waiter would disappear for extended lengths of time and we had to flag him down to order both our drinks and our meals. Had the restaurant been even remotely busy, I could understand but not only was it barely full but I could see the waiter slacking off a few feet away. In addition to this, our waiter actually got into an argument with us about what type of wine we should order and whether we should order individual glasses or a bottle. When we held fast and reiterated what we wanted (the Antinori Super Tuscan), his reaction was to pout and spout off a smartass remark...classy! Whatever happened to the customer's always right? At this point we hadn't even eaten and I was disgusted with Gianni's.
For our orders, we decided to share several appetizers and two pizzas. For the apps we opted for the house salad, the creamy polenta dish and the calamari. The creamy polenta dish was smooth and accented with a light hint of what I believe was truffle oil. The calamari was a good sized portion, marinated in buttermilk (unbreaded) and tossed with tomatoes, basil and chilies-- in my opinion, the best dish out of what we ordered. As for the salad and pizzas, they weren't anything to write home about but did the job of satisfying our hunger. During the course of our meal, the ex-waitress in me noticed that the silverware was dirty (I had to ask for another fork and knife because there were remnants from someone else's dinner encrusted on the tines and blade), the glassware was spotty and several plates had obvious chips and cracks. In addition, our busser was slow to refill our water and early in the evening had dropped a large hunk of bread in the middle of the table. I found it amusing that throughout the night, he continued to carefully bus around the bread as though it were a centerpiece. My guess is that bread is probably still sitting in the same spot on the table even to this day.
Now usually when I go to dinner with my girlfriends, it's customary for us to linger over dessert and some coffee, perhaps even an after dinner drink. At Gianni's, we couldn't get out of there fast enough. Although we did leave our server a tip, I sincerely felt it was undeserved and that he should have tipped us for having to endure his crappy subpar service and abhorrent attitude. I most definitely would not waste my money at Gianni's again nor would I ever subject anyone I know to such a hellacious dining experience by recommending it. It just goes to show that a restaurant can look pretty, but to get customers to return it needs to be able to offer up a pleasant dining experience as well. I believe Gianni's is what the Italians refer to as, "Tutto fumo e niente arrost," (all smoke and no fire) and places like that rarely stick around for long.