The inner suckiness of the local Italian restaurant


After a long and hard week we often decide to have a take away, or something similar so it’s nice and easy on the kitchen- namely my gorgeous wife. With having small kids in the house the inevitable answer comes when I ask “so guys, what’re we having for dinner?” and the chorus chimes – “pizza daddy.” now the hunt really begins.

We live in a small town about 20 mins or so form Durban, in South Africa. The problem comes not here, but with us. See, we used to own Italian restaurants, had several of them in fact and the last one was an award winning establishment of note. So we’re kinda, ok let me rephrase that, I’m kinda picky when it comes to anything Italian. Sometimes I think my wife only married me or even offered to bear my children so that I could make her traditional napoletana and bolognese sauce! But we have a few establishments in our area that you can go to.

Today I’ll run through just one of them, and I’ll let you know all about the others as we try them.

This place is called Pappa Giovanni’s, and it’s in Hillcrest, Durban.

When I had my last place I used to try my utmost to make sure this place had as few tables as possible on a Friday night. Terrible I know, but who said business was fair. But after we sold our restaurant they really started to pick up their socks. Now we quite like their pizza. I don’t eat anything else there, so I can’t comment on the rest of the menu.

It’s a small place, about 14 tables with Italian paraphernalia all over the walls and other decorative pieces. Cozy, or at least it would be if it didn’t have bloody great big glass sliding doors as it’s entrance. They have wrap around canvas blinds that keep most of the chills out, but I’d say a good 20% still manage to creep their way under the blinds, up your trouser legs or skirt and to areas where they’re just not welcome!

Anyway, back to the story. In my family we have 2 adults, a 3 1/2 year old and a 6 week old baby. So I figures we should be safe with ordering 3 pizzas. Time upon arrival was 17:30 and the place had 5 tables. All was good I thought, my daughter wanted to come with, so I’d brought my trustee iPad as companion to keep her occupied whilst we waited, and her dinner time is normally at 18:30. The waiter kindly told me the food would be ready in 15-20 minutes, as they were quite? Awesome stuff!

At 17:38 our waiter kindly came over and took our order and placed it on the computer system, known as a POS, or Point Of Sale. It’s basically a computer system to track food orders and stock used and a damn good way for any decent waiter worth their name to steal from the owners of the restaurant, oh and it’s patrons.

Now let me revert back a bit here. We’ve had pizza’s from this place many, many times before. The pizza’s are pretty good. I would rate them a 7/10 on the Nick Rating guide ( yeah get used to the name, I’ll be using it a lot in future.) the tomato sauce used on the pizza is good, the pizza base is nicely made and e ingredients are of a pretty good quality. The pizza’s are cooked in a genuine wood fired oven, so that always adds a bit extra to the score.

At 18:15 I asked the waiter to check on the order. My maths might be old but I though the 15 – 20 minutes had already gone by. At 18:25 I started to get a bit more vocal with my displeasure at having to wait further for my food. My daughter was now bored of the iPad, my drink long finished, only one more take away order in and now my daughter was also complaining of being hungry.

Yes, 5 minutes later the manageress came over to tell me the pizza’s would be coming soon, no apology. “excuse me” I said as she started to walk away after thinking her job at been done with me.

“can you please tell me why your pizza’s always take so long to make?” I asked her.

“well sir, we had a really busy night last night and we ran out of bases, so the guys have had to prep today. They hadn’t finished their prep, so we ran out a bit tonight.” she answered.

Now there’s one thing you should avoid at all times when dealing with me – no BS! Period.

So I replied as nicely as I could, “oh dear, want time do you open in the mornings then?”

“At 10:00 am she said.” I thought about this for the 0.2 milliseconds that it took to fathom just how stupid an answer that really was.

“I see, so you’re telling me that for lunch and a total of 6 tables and take away orders tonight your kitchen hasn’t managed to do enough prep, roll enough pizza bases to satisfy your restaurant- on a Saturday.” I asked the manageress.

“oh” was the reply. Obviously realizing I had caught her out, I asked for the owners number. I actually know him, but had forgotten his number. He’ll be getting a call tomorrow.

So, my order of 3 pizza’s arrived at 18:33. Almost an hour from when the order was first placed, according to the time on the bill and order slip. Wow I thought.

R260 later, we had our pizza’s and were off and away back home, which was another 12 minutes away. Daughter crying for her dinner, dad ready to murder any and all that may have passed.

The verdict of this fine establishment:

Don’t go there for takeaways, or at least double the anticipated time of arrival for your order. The pizza’s were good though. We had a Mexican, which had enough chille on it to power a boeing 767 for a good 250km. Once scraped off, the pizza was very good. It had peri peri beans, onions, mushrooms, mince and of course chille. I had a “pigletto” which had ham, bacon, salami and banana – to which I added avocado at home. A lovely pizza, but I’m still not a fan of banana on this one. My daughter had a margherita with extra ham and bacon. It was lovely.

I would return there again only for a sit down with lots of time, and the fact that we have a 3.5 year old and a 6 week old basically means we’ll see them in about 2 years.

Thanks for teaching us how not to do customer service. I only hope that they get it right with more customers than they get it wrong with!

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