KB and I caught up over dinner at Via Dei Mille (VDM). The place is marketing itself as Soho's version of Cipriani, but it's got a long way to go before it can come close.
The service needed serious help and training. We arrived to a raucous happy hour event at the front of the restaurant. Our hostess didn't realize we had a dinner reservation and almost wouldn't let us in. Once we were seated, we were asked by the wait staff to move to two different tables. We eventually ended up at a table next to the bathroom. Our server took so long to check in on us between courses, we often wondered if he had forgotten about us.
The food was mediocre at best. Our server recommended the meatballs to start because they were one of the more popular dishes on the menu. After tasting the dry underseasoned hunks of meat, I didn't want to imagine what the other starters were like. I cleaned my plate anyway. Mostly because our server took a long time to return to our table, but also because I was worried that my entree was going to be worse. My Dover Sole entree wasn't that bad. It wasn't great either, and at a $28, I would have expected the sole to taste less fishy and the tomatoes to taste less canned, but I was happy to take what I could get.
Finally, the clientele came nowhere close to the sceney trendsters and socialites at Cipriani's. I didn't realize that it was possible to be even more obnoxious than euro-trash B&T, but the orange-tinted women next to us that compulsively took flash pictures of themselves every 2 seconds or so proved me wrong. They wore acid-washed cutoff jean shorts (newsflash: 80s clothes were ugly, which is why people in the 80s stopped wearing them once they reached the 90s), and one girl's shorts were so short, KB asked me several times if she was wearing pants (upon closer observation, we realized she was). KB and I were grossly engrossed, not because we wanted to be, but because the flash going off in our eyes every 2 seconds or so forced us to participate. We were further fascinated and horrified when a meathead stallion and a S&M outfitted bleach-blond walked into one of VDM's single serving bathrooms together and then reappeared 15 minutes later. Eew.
As we left, one of the proprietors apologized for making us move several times (which we appreciate). He then NAME DROPPED (can you believe it?!) and explained that they had to reorganize the tables because Rihanna's party was running late. We doubt Rihanna would actually go there. Unless they paid her.
If I were a betting gal, I'd say VDM won't last long unless it makes some drastic changes. It's a good thing I'm not a betting gal!