Charming service attempts to woo disappointed taste buds
Mista Italian Kitchen is misleading and disappointing from the first step through the doorway.
My friend Brett Peters and I were greeted by owner Roberto Gaggioli, who allowed us to choose our seat. We were not given menus when we sat down, and we hardly noticed due to a speaker spitting music at us from directly overhead.
It seemed the middle-aged owner chose tunes he thought would attract a trendy crowd, when genuine Italian music would have done wonders for the borderline tacky ambiance.
We put the music past us and asked for menus, eager to see what Mista had to offer.
“We are the only real Italian restaurant in Boulder,” Gaggioli said. “We are from Italy and we know how to make real Italian food.”
Our server, Brittany Brown, eventually delivered menus and provided a few recommendations. To my delight, no appetizer was over $6 and no entrée was over $20.
“We offer very reasonable prices,” said Marco Monnanni, co-owner and head chef of Mista. “It’s a restaurant for everybody.”
Not only the prices were reasonable, but the menu also had plenty to offer.
“The veal marsala is the best thing on the menu,” Brown said. I knew I could not refuse such a bold review, so I closed my menu with my decision made.
After quite a while, our appetizers arrived. I tried Brett’s caprese salad, a medley of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. While caprese is generally an easy dish to prepare, Mista managed to spoil it with tasteless tomatoes, soggy mozzarella and dried basil.
My lamb meatballs in ouzo sauce were slightly better, yet not by much. Their single redeeming quality was the fact that they were only $3.
As we pushed our appetizer plates to the side, Gaggioli appeared with a sample of eggplant parmesan. While certainly a surprise, I could not decide if the distribution of samples to each table was charming or tacky. I nibbled on the morsel of eggplant and noted its alarming mediocrity.
The owner left and we waited for our entrées. Had they disappeared? Did the kitchen forget? Peering at our watches yet again, Brown finally came striding towards us with large, steaming plates of food.
We dug in. My veal marsala, served with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes, was tasty. Unfortunately, Brett’s osso buco with a side of fettuccine was not nearly as delicious.
Feeling stuffed and slightly weary, we waved our hands at the dessert menu and asked for the check. For what we had ordered, we didn’t spend much, but the restaurant did hold true to the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”
Is there anything positive to say about Mista? Perhaps. The service was charming and prices were low. Sadly, that is about all I can think of. In its defense, Mista is fairly new, so there is a chance they are just smoothing out the kinks that every fledgling restaurant must go through.
For the time being, those looking for good Italian dining should look elsewhere. While Mista keeps wallets full, it leaves empty feelings.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Lauren Duncan at email@example.com.