The Friends had been hearing the buzz about the new Italian restaurant, Farina, by chef-owner Nunzio Scardo, who also owns the Driftwood Southern Kitchen. Both are located in the Lafayette Village, off Falls of Neuse Road. We loved the food, service and ambiance of the Driftwood and had high expectations for Farina.
We loved their mission statement: Farina is a casual, neighborhood spot serving up delicious, handmade American-Italian fare. We want you to feel right at home dining with us. Don’t worry, we’ll even clean up and do the dishes. Enjoy a sampling of our small plates, a wood fired pizza, fresh handmade pasta or a glass of vino from our eclectic list. Dining with us should bring you right back to those Sunday family dinners at Nana’s.
Saturday at 7pm, the restaurant had many open tables, which surprised us. We always like speaking with the staff, and quickly learned the wait staff were employees of the previous Italian restaurant at this site. In fact, the Hostess referred to the restaurant by its previous name Paparazzi. She was not familiar with the menu and told us to speak with the waitress. This was a new menu, but management needs to train the wait staff appropriately.
The waitress let us know that she had worked at Paparazzi as well. She had some familiarity to the menu and gave suggestions on what she had eaten. But through the course of the evening we learned the reason Farina charges $2.00 for their bread is that they wanted to save money. They had originally charged $3.00 but lowered the price. If they offered complimentary bread, they would have to charge more for the entrees.
The room was very dark and there were no candles on the tables. I pulled out my handy IPhone flashlight in order to read the menu.
I started with the Octopus salad. It was expertly prepared and tasted lovely! Belle ordered the Baked Goat Cheese. The goat cheese was ample and well prepared, but there were only two crostini’s on the plate. The ratio to the crostini to the goat cheese was unbalanced. We like to share our food, so Belle asked for more crostini. The waitress brought only one. She later told us that we should have requested a specific number of how many was wanted. I assumed they wanted us to pay the $2.00 and order bread.
The waitress had raved about the braised short ribs, so I ordered it. I received one piece of meat that looked like a chunk of roast beef. I counted 10 undercooked gnocchi with little sauce. I could not find the Gorgonzola cheese in the sauce. I also order ordered heirloom tomatoes with Barrata and vegetable pesto. This was my favorite part of the meal.
Belle ordered Rigatoni with grilled chicken, rosemary, goat cheese and parmesan cream. She felt it was too heavy and under season. Badboy ordered Melina’s lemon cheese ravioli, topped with crab and heirloom tomatoes. Badboy found it delightful, although skimpy on the crab. He also ordered the chocolate and Nutella Tiramisu. He thought it was awesome.
The manager was not circulating among the diners. Typically in a new restaurant you want to make your diners feel welcomed and appreciated so you chat with everyone, looking for input, feedback and critiques. The owner needs to look at what makes the Driftwood so successful and apply it to Farina. We support local businesses and wish Farina luck, but they have a lot of work to do to live up to the standards set by the Driftwood.