Friday, June 5, 2009

Has Pappo Lost Its Swagger?

Once upon a time, not too long ago, Pappo Restaurant on Central Avenue was a very popular spot. Customers came in and dressed quite chic and filled the brick room with coolness. For some reason, the atmosphere is now gone and the restaurant is an empty room. Even before Angela's moved into their new space on Central Avenue, Pappo was no longer on the radar. I'm not exactly sure what happened?

One of my belief's of why Pappo is empty in that the prices are slightly more expensive compared to other restaurants in the neighborhood. The prices of wines by the glass or by the bottle are more than their competitors, however their selection is different. The quality of food could also be challenged since their food and flavor profiles are more sophisticated than Burgermeister or Havana down the street. I'm not sure if Alamedans appreciate complex food with flavor subtleties that don't immediately hit your palate.

I wonder if another reason why Pappo is not popular is that the Executive Chef devotes more time to his deli, Culina in the Marketplace than the restaurant? During recessions, people are looking for lower priced foods, which the deli can offer. And luckily for customers, Culina offers high quality simple foods for a small price.

I have to say the food I had at the restaurant on a dead Thursday night was better in taste compared to a handful of times I've previously been there when it was a hot spot. I had a Curry, Tomato Soup with Cilantro creme fresh and it was delicious. The soup was creamy and smooth, with the perfect amount of heat. My second course was a generous sized Caesar Salad. The dressing tasted flavorful with a slight hint of anchovy. The romaine lettuce was fresh and had a good crunch to it. My last course was the gnocchi with bacon bits. I am fussy when it comes to gnocchi because it is difficult to make and a majority of the time, it comes out bland. Well their gnocchi was quite delightful, very flavorful with a creamy cheese sauce. The gnocchi were light, fluffy potato pockets which was a welcomed surprise. And of course, everything tastes better with bacon. The saltiness of the bacon brought out the flavors of the cheese in the sauce.

The million dollar question is when are the patrons coming back?


Chadorama said...

I've been there a number of times and I wouldn't say the food was complex. It just isn't really that imaginative. Anyone can make Salmon with a pesto sauce at home. I think the competition of Angela's and other restaurants opening up on the island will push Pappo to make their menu more interesting.

Anonymous said...

I only went once and am still suffering the sticker shock. With no dedicated children's menu and not much else to choose from, I was forced to order pasta for my picky eater and was served spaghetti plain (no sauce, nothing else) that still came with a $12 price tag. OUCH!

Chattwin said...

I went to Pappo when it first opened and was completely unimpressed with the food and with the prices. I've never gone back.

I also went to Angela's once when it first opened in Marina Village and never went back, so it will be interesting to see how it does at the new location.

Anonymous said...

I've gone to Pappo many times since it opened, and I've always been very impressed with the food and the service. The prices are high, but I think it's worth it.

Every dish I've tried there (either my own or a taste of a friend's) has been fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Pappo and Angelas are both a case of the Wizard of Oz syndrome - no one is really there - Alamedan's, don't be so gulible!!! There is no talent there!!! In Pappo's case I wonder how many people are aware that the same chef who ran the kitchen under Skylight Cafe (remember folks?), once Lucien sold it, is still running the kitchen - the hot shot Chef/Owner spends more time chatting than cooking and as for his Culina venture - eh - the last deli at Marketplace had much better meatloaf, friendlier service and better pricing - and don't get me started on Angela's and the 17, yes folks, not a few but 17 partners throwing their money into that culinary wasteland!