McLean, VA 22101
Based on Trip Advisor reviews back in December 2010, we tried Pulcinella Ristorante in McLean. It was, after all, rated #1 out of the then 62 McLean eateries. Since 2010, restaurants in McLean have nearly doubled to 112 and Pulcinella finds itself now at #22 (according to TripAdvisor.com). We wanted to try the #1 restaurant for ourselves and were disappointed, to say the least. But when we found ourselves in the geographic area near Pulcinella, we threw caution to the wind and decided to give "The Italian Host" (subtitle, per its website) another twirl, hoping that 5 years was enough to address the myriad shortcomings many people pointed out over the years.
Bottom line: Aside from the consistency in the kitchen, there has been not much improvement in the areas they needed to improve.
As we wrote in 2010, “Judging on food alone, this place is exceptional. Too bad dining experiences are not based on this one element.” Back then, we wrote it was nothing short of a disaster; however, while not a disaster during this experience, certainly there is plenty of room for improvement.
The pluses: Our table, though not the same we sat at 5 years ago, was wobbly, but not wobbly enough enough to knock our glasses off the table as it was previously. Cutlery and napkins were on the table upon arrival and the bread and drinks came out pretty quickly.
The minuses: After we had read through the menu and ordered our meal, the waiter noticed that we did not receive the night’s dinner specials supplement. Would’ve been nice to know about the specials before studying the menu and selecting our entrees.... While the bread and butter were brought out with the drinks, the olive oil was brought to the table quite a bit later AFTER we already ate our bread... And there is more.
A salad came out with dressing “on the side,” not how everyone else's salads came out, even though we did not order it that way. We chalked it up to the noisy dining room and the server mistakenly hearing “on the side” instead of something else. We did not return it, as it takes little effort to pour dressing on a salad (about as much as it would have taken the waiter to confirm he heard the order correctly... or not).
On to the food. This is Pulcinella's strong point and they do not disappoint. The Ravioli alla Panna (Spinach Ravioli), usually prepared in a very heavy cream sauce, came in a nice light cream sauce, which was quite good. The Vitello alla Parmiglana (Veal Parmesan), was delicious, moist, tasty, served with perfectly al dente pasta. The Chicken Fettuccine seemed to be the only “miss” of the night. While the pasta and cream sauce were nice, the chicken lacked taste and, while grilled well, needed something—salt? Pepper? Lemon? Not the best effort there.
Our review from 2010 said, “Needless to say, we do not think we will ever return.” We did. And while there was some improvement five years later, it was not enough to want to come back. But who knows, maybe if we find ourselves in the area again and want to check it out five years from now... we'll let you know.