You know those places you go and pay a ton of money when compared to the service and the food but you come back because you loved the atmosphere and the decorations?
Me neither but “Bocca Lupo” in the centre of the top beach resort in Romania, Mamaia, has set the goal to do just that apparently.
Meeting the wolf, dead hungry
I like Italian food. Who doesn’t, am I right? I mean you have to be really different in order not to like a good pizza. Or some nice pasta bolognese. Even the seafood in Italy is great so not finding anything delicious in their cuisine I think it’s impossible.
That’s why I’m (to be read “was”) a fan of the chain of restaurants we have in Romania, called “Bocca Lupo”. It’s maybe too much to call 3 restaurants “a chain”. As I spend quite a lot of time during the summer on our beaches, I discovered the first “Bocca” restaurant somewhere in the North of the resort. Not necessarily secluded but quite low profile. We loved it and the fact that only in high season they would have pretty long waiting hours was forgiven because of the quality of the food. Of course, it’s not Italy level but for Romania, “Bocca” in Mamaia North is pretty damn good.
But we are not talking about “Bocca” in the North but about the new one, dead centre Mamaia.
The place is right on the beach and together with the bar and lounge, it occupies half of the width of the beach in that sector. That’s a total waste of space for a restaurant with such low quality in both service and food.
Each year new places appear. Either to eat or to drink. To dance or to stay. Each year they close some places and open new ones so as a tradition already, the three of us put on the walking shoes and around the beginning of the season we start the evening stroll that can go up to 3 kilometres. If I’m not complaining about this, consider that my daughter does so when we saw the well-known logo we immediately entered. We knew the quality, we knew the service (or so we thought) and we needed a place to rest until the way back.
“Let’s have dinner here!” I proposed like the idiot I am. A falafel place would’ve been money better spent.
By the time we got to the centre we were already very hungry and thinking about the options we had on our way back, this seemed like a good decision.
Getting to really know the wolf
I don’t know who their designer is but he does a very good job hiding the imperfections. The places are decorated in a very Italian way and their open kitchen concept (in the other places they have the pizza preparation place inside half of a FIAT 500) is going along with this look very well. The tables are always simple, Napoli way, with “carta” on it but without the charging. After all we are in Romania, we don’t charge “carta”.
They have their own “chandeliers” made out of Coca-Cola bottles. They use them everywhere and this type of decoration is the one that crawls under the skin of the “hard to satisfy” customer, getting an appeal to his emotions, to the things that are familiar to him. I have to say that this restaurant for me gets an A in decorations and a clear C in food. This one is especially nicely decorated as it continues to the sea, connected by a lounge and ending with the actual beach, sun-beds, umbrellas, the whole package.
I went with a glass of “Pouilly Fume” and a “Fisherman’s Soup”. I’m a seafood craving human being and I can’t stop myself when I kind of trust the place. Sometimes I’m a little bit to open and go on and try their seafood even though it is clear that I’m eating a frozen, pretty ancient creature.
The guy that welcomed us in the (almost) deserted restaurant – it was us and another table – was a tall, chubby guy, gelled hair, pretty dark skin (don’t know, maybe he was properly tanned) and with that slick attitude like he would kiss your tush for the tip. I went on and got fooled again. Trusted the guy and made me believe that he knew what he was saying.
In fact, he was on another planet completely and as time went on and hungry people kept flooding the place, they were totally overcome by the whole situation.
My daughter, who’s at that age when she likes to ask for things when she’s in the restaurant, asked for Parmigiano to go with the pasta her mother took for both of them. He giggled with her. We laughed at how the kid was ordering. Hihihi. Hahaha.
The soup came! Thank God! I was starving.
I think I ate something like a whole rectal thermometer of mercury until now, that’s how much seafood I consume. I consider myself pretty educated in this sense. Wherever and whenever I had the opportunity (place-freshness) I went with the seafood like there was no tomorrow. But this soup… I mean COME ON! You take a tomato, you squeeze it, you put some pepper, salt, boil it and then add the steamed mussels? That’s it? Absolutely no aroma at all. I wasn’t expecting to have it as fresh as in Greece but for God’s sake, that shellfish died for nothing. I ate it out of hunger really but it held nothing more than what my grandma makes out of her tomatoes. Even less than her’s.
As time went by and the night was falling, the second course was very late already – may I remind you that the hungry kid ordered some pasta and her precious Parmigiano and she was already killing her mother’s phone – and the seaside walkway was fueling the intake of customers which didn’t help with our hopes of getting the food. The two waiters that we met when we came, in peace, were now destroyed. Totally desynced because of a 30 minutes talk over some wine with some customer (that tall, damn waiter and his impressions of a sommelier…).
At some moment in time, there was a clear quarrel between the waiters and the cooks inside the small kitchen. Couldn’t really make out what they were saying but I was pretty sure that it was something to do either with our food or the food for the table that was already here when we came. The other people flowing inside the restaurant later couldn’t have been the victims because they had barely ordered.
After more than 1 hour since we sit down, with the kid really hard to control, came the food. I had some ravioli as the second course while the two beautiful ladies in my life had some simple spaghetti (the kid is not ready yet to eat seafood and I don’t think she’d really appreciate it yet).
What can I say? Should I start with the fact that both types of pasta were totally boiled and not “al dente” at all (really?! an italian restaurant?!) or with the fact that both lacked salt, like my seafood soup did? I really think that the worse a cook can do (not a chef – these guys were not chefs for sure) is to be afraid of the salt. So afraid that almost none is present in the fucking dish. For God’s sake: USE THE DAMN SALT! A devoted taster will always appreciate a little bit too much salt instead of none. It shows you have no fucking balls at all. Grow some!
We ate fast, as much as we needed in order to fill the belly but not enjoying at all.
We paid the overly expensive dinner, got up and left. I paid by card. No tip was needed OR deserved.
In the end, the kid got no Parmegiano at all. He forgot to bring it.