Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Incredible Potential Of The New Spezia Location

Like others, I was sorry to see Spezia leave it's original Park Ridge neighborhood location to become another dining location in the greater "mall area."  I am happy about plans for a new restaurant to fill it's old space- French continental perhaps?  At any rate, the location is not what I wanted to discuss in this post.

The new location is gorgeous.  The decor is extremely well done.  I haven't walked around the whole place yet, but it is clear that some thought went into what the old location needed badly.  For instance, there is a great outdoor seating area and there appear to be spaces that can be used by larger groups.  Those should come in pretty handy for those Sunday brunches around graduation time.

Sad as I was to see Spezia leave Park Ridge, I think this new location is going to serve Spezia very well.  Given its location, the place should be packing them in anytime a soccer, softball, baseball, hockey, etc. tournament is in town.  I've got to think the business plan calls for a lot more traffic from the out-of-town folks who probably wouldn't have made the trek off the beaten path to 26th and Western.

Our experience last week was fine.  Probably 5 out of 10 forks on the whole.   In a nutshell, the food was okay and the service should have been better.  The experience just didn't live up to its potential.  I was thinking about writing about the details of the meal, but as I thought about the experience we had last week, it made me think about the "bigger picture" for Spezia.  With a beautiful new location that is sure to bring increased traffic, it will be interesting to see if Spezia can take it up a couple of notches.  I don't think Spezia needs to do anything drastic.  it just seems to me that the place certainly has the potential to push itself a little.  Some thoughts:

  • I'd like to see a little more Italian on the menu.  I don't mean Olive Garden/Carino's Italian.  I am thinking more like Mario Batali Italian.  There is nothing on the menu that makes me think "Wow!  There's something that sounds unique and adventurous!  I am going to give it a try."  The menu as it is written is just too safe and, actually, has items I could probably get at Minerva's.  I can get the same roast duck that I can basically get at Minerva's.  Why isn't Osso Bucco on the menu?
  • How about some more special events?  I missed the wine tasting last week, but I definitely plan on checking one out.  Spezia has a great opportunity to be the authority on Italian wines.  Go for it.
  • How about combining the food and the wine for a really special event?  Tasting menu?
I want to love Spezia in the worst way.  To get there, it's going to take more than just getting the kinks out of the service, in my opinion, it's going to take some risks with the menu and special events.  


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