Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pulcinella Ristorante, McLean, VA

6852 Old Dominion Dr.,  
McLean, VA 22101
(703) 893-7777

Judging on food alone, this place is exceptional.  Too bad dining experiences are not based on this one element.  Simply put, our night out at Pulcinella Ristorante, a local McLean Italian eatery, was nothing short of a disaster.  Interestingly, www.tripadvisor.com ranks Pulcinella’s #1 of 62 rated McLean eateries.  We must have just arrived on the wrong night, but we’ll explain further why this rating is a complete misnomer.

We both agree with a tripadvisor.com review that this is New York Italian food.  Problem is, you can’t serve NY Italian food with NY Italian restaurant attitude this far south of Delancey Street.   We found the food great but the service awful with a rude and aloof attitude.  The place was crowded and busy, which was a good sign, we thought and since they do not take reservations for two, we waited in line for about 10 minutes. Once seated, it took several tries to get someone's attention to stabilize our shaky table, give us cutlery, bread, drinks, and napkins.  A word of caution and advice--When you get your check, look it over carefully.  We noticed a wrong price (higher of course) for the seafood gumbo. When pointed out to the waiter, he argued with that the higher price was correct despite what the menu indicated. A little alcohol would have helped to get past all this, but be prepared - they serve about 3 kinds of wine and that's it - nothing else! Needless to say, we do not think we will ever return.

P.S.  We found it to be quite rare to have such a negative experience and called the owner the following week to let him know about this.  We actually thought he would be appreciative of customers' honest feedback and would assure us that if we ever return this would not happen again.  (Obviously we wanted to like this place, we really did.)  Nothing of the sort.  He was contentious and uncourteous.  Now we see from where the rest of the staff at Pulcinella get their attitudes.  


  1. Lena, no - regrettably your experience there is not an unusual one. It's a McLean townie favorite but it gets incredibly crowded and they do not care. The food is average, the service sub par (rushed and overwhelmed, as the staff navigates between tightly fitting tables) and there is an odd air of entitlement. I do not think that these are the original owners. I say - check out Rocco's for casual dining or Capri across the street (over JosABanks) for a more upscale meal and real service.

  2. Victoria, thanks for the great post and your suggestions. We will definitely try them.