No! Battuto don’t go

My favorite restaurant in this city is leaving. Battuto, in Little Italy, is hands down the best Italian restaurant we have – and we’re losing it as of August 4. I’m a food snob and extremely picky about what and where I eat, but this is especially true when it comes to Italian food. I’m full Italian, and growing up, we rarely ate Italian out because no one could make anything as good, let alone pronounce it properly, as my mom and grandma. We do have some pretty good places, but not great – not until Salvatore’s in Little Italy, but they closed 6 years ago, and now Battuto. Battuto is/was small, charming and known for its daily changing menu based on whatever is fresh at the market. And they make their own pasta fresh everyday – which is a pain and I give them a lot of credit for. It really depresses me to hear when great restaurants are forced to shut down because no one is going – and yet you drive by Bahama Breeze or Bravo any night and they are packed. I’m not totally anti chains, but I have to believe chains play a part is really good restaurants/chefs being forced to close. I could devote 40 posts to this topic, and it probably wouldn’t change much… If you have the opportunity, and are craving really, really good Italian food, check out Battuto before it’s too late. It will make you sad to see them go, too.

8 Comments

  1. August
    Posted July 25, 2007 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    I have never been there before but now I want to go. I might have to try it next weekend but then I will be sad too.

    I agree about the chains. My friends always would pick the Applebees and Fridays which I totally hate. I am also not totally anti-chain but I definitly feel you get a whole different level of quality in a privately owned restaurant.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted July 26, 2007 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Very sad about the closing of Batutto. Outstanding on all counts. However, I can’t even begin to compare the once hugely overrated, vastly overpriced Salvatore’s to the gem that is Batutto. Not in the same league at all, IMO. If Sal’s had served the same food they had been serving at fair places, it would have been a decent simple Italian joint – again, not the same as Batutto. Not the same ideal and plane of culinary craftmanship.

  3. michelle v
    Posted July 26, 2007 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Oh, I agree – maybe I didn’t make myself clear. Salvatore’s was the first place my family thought of as good Italian in the area and one of the only Italian places we would go to. I totally agree that the quality and level of culinary craftmanship and dedication was much superior at Batutto – and overall Batutto was hands down better than Salvatore. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Anonymous
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Battuto is closing, I think I know why.
    I worked at Battuto. The food was truly delicious, and pretty healthy, too. It was expensive, but not overpriced. However, the owners, a married couple, had a soft-spot for down-on-their-luck employees. *Names changed to protect privacy. Diane*, was drunk a lot. The manager, Susan*, could be rude to customers and guests alike. A waitress, Lee La*, was always late and didn’t help with set-up, yet she got the best tables.

    Karen* was slow as hell. Plus, there was a slew of Albanians* who didn’t speak a lick of English.

    So, I think part of the problem was that they didn’t know what the front was doing. For customers, it was hit or miss as far as service.

    Another part of the problem was that they refused to serve bread at dinner. So many customers requested bread to sop up the delicious sauce. Unfortunately, the owner, G*, promoted some snobbish atttitude of “they don’t do that in Italy.” Same with a lemon rind with an espresso.

    Wish I’d had the balls to tell them “Hey, go with what the customer wants.” I have a feeling they wouldn’t have listened.

  5. michelle v
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Great insider view – thanks!! I has dinner there last night and it’s funny what you said about the bread b/c that’s exactly what I wanted for the sauce! And, for the first time, our service was slow – we must have had Karen!

  6. Anonymous
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Michelle,
    I like your blog. I was also sad that Battuto closed. They did make it for 7 years, which is pretty good for an independent restaurant. The food was so good that I’ve tried to recreate some dishes at home.

    However, here is another insider’s view. I also used to work at Battuto. And perhaps this can be a warning to other independent restaurant owners who might be reading your blog:
    You will not succeed if you bring an East or West coast attitude to Cleveland. Bring the flavor and ideas, leave the attitude.

    I really think this attitude ruined Battuto’s business. For example, the owner of a 20+ year restaurant in Cleveland told me that he dined at Battuto one night. He’s not the type to brag about who he is, so nobody knew he was coming. He loved the food. But that night, everything was slow and the restaurant was not more than 50% full. The waitress seemed harried, and the hostess/manager was rude. He asked the waitress if there was a big back-up in the kitchen. She naively told him that the big party in the middle of the restaurant was the owners’ family. He hasn’t been there since.
    I saw the kitchen come to a halt many times in order to accomadate the owner’s family. I understand you want your family to be special, but not at the expense of other guests. That’s just bad business.

    They also allowed the owner’s brother to boss the waitresses around, “Go get so-and-so,” without a please or thank you.
    They kept servers who were downright awful at their jobs, servers who rolled their eyes if a customer ordered the less expensive bottle of wine.

    So, a few lessons can be learned. Treat your customers as equally as possible. You can comp your family’s check, but don’t make other customers wait longer to rush food out to your family and friends. This may work on the east and west coast, but Clevelanders will not wait too long for even the best of dinners.

    Know what the guests think about your front staff. Tell the front staff (hosts/servers/bussers) to treat every one equally. Do not tell when someone “special” is coming in. If they give good service all the time, they will give it to your friends and family. And don’t play favorites, because you can lose good service.

    I hope the owners of the former Battuto start cooking again. My buccatini all’ amatriciana is just not the same.

    Is Grovewood Tavern still good? I loved it 3 years ago.

  7. michelle v
    Posted August 5, 2007 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing, I love these insider’s views. It’s funny, that another stong point Zack made over and over, that when running a restaurant, it’s so important to make every customer feel special and like thye just entered your home. He even said customers are more important to him than any celeb that was to walk in the door. Sounds like that is something the Battuto owners just didn’t get. That’s sad. Such a simple thing, too. Hopefully they will learn a lot from this and be more successful – and less egocentric – the second time around. And smarter when hiring, too!

    As for Grovewood, I’m also 100% positive they are still open. That’s another place I need to get back to. Talk about great food at very reasonable prices.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted September 14, 2007 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I know this is outdated, but I had lunch at Battuto over the summer and I was really unimpressed and not surprised that they closed. I went there with my husband and was one of maybe 4 tables total in the place. It took so long to get our food that I was more than late getting back to work. Our waitress wasn’t rude but didn’t really seem to have the entire picture either. The food was decent but I admit that we got a pizza and a sandwich, so really no basis for comparison there. We left saying the same thing to each other…..never again. There are too many good restaurants to try in this fab city to miss this one for long!!!

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