Pistola hit the West Third restaurant strip like a slug to the chest when it opened in September, shattering the area’s more casual aesthetic with its white tablecloths, high-end bar program and well-known chef, Vic Casanova. There was even pedigree to the location, thanks to AOC’s longtime run at the same address.
Now that fall has cooled to winter, what’s become of Pistola’s white-hot opening? It was, after all, 2014’s most anticipated restaurant opening, and falls right in line with the reemergence of the Italian steakhouse as a certified trend. While none of the city’s biggest critics have deep-dived into Casanova and partner Seth Glassman’s latest venture, there’s plenty of digital ink spilled on the place. Here’s the good news and bad news on Pistola.
The Shine of the Place: Everyone’s gushing about the look of the place, particularly the long white marble bar.
"The ambiance was beautiful. The bar is incredible, a beautiful white marble." [Urbanspoon]
"White tablecloths, a marble bar and velvet banquettes create a serene and elegant ambiance." [Zagat]
"I was here on a date, and this was a perfect location for a quiet (but not *too* quiet) romantic dinner. The light and atmosphere here was really lovely." [OpenTable]
"It’s all dark wood, white tablecloths, big red wines — and beef." [LA Times]
Pasta Problems?: Customers seem genuinely split on the pastas at Pistola.
"The pasta was very hard (not just al dente) even though I sent it back once - the new one was just as bad." [OpenTable]
"Any misstep would be quickly put out of mind by house-made pastas like the superb squid ink agnolotti with lobster, shrimp, scallop and sea urchin." [Gayot]
"The lobster was really good but the pasta seemed a little under cooked and hard." [Yelp]
Comfort Food Galore: Overall, the menu gives off a vibe of stick-to-your-ribs (and your wallet) comfort food, something that resonates with many eaters.
"The menu focuses on comfort food classics including meatballs with Sunday gravy, rigatoni all vodka squid ink agnolotti and baked ziti." [The Daily Meal]
"Pistola’s philosophy is straightforward: use phenomenal ingredients, combine true Italian tradition with modern flair and serve with flourish and joy in a spectacular setting." [Time Out]
"The tomahawk was perfectly seared and medium rare, full of flavor. We ordered a side of the black truffle butter and while the steak was very good on its own, the truffle butter elevated it to another dimension." [Yelp]
Rushed Behavior: More than one diner has noticed Pistola’s desire to turn-and-burn tables, moving diners in and out as quickly as possible — including one notable Iron Chef judge.
"The hostess wanted us to give up our table so she kept pointing at our table and counting out loud, one, two, three, etc. the number of seats she could get in our space." [OpenTable]
"A pleasant, if very hurried dinner at Pistola. Rather aggressive on the pre-bussing. Had us in and out in 50 mins. I now have whiplash." [Simon Majumdar]
"Though we had reservations for 7:30 p.m., we couldn’t get a table until almost an hour later. We ended up having appetizers at the bar." [Yelp]
The Clientele: Let’s face it, the high price point and location can occasionally attract a certain type of person. And not necessarily one you’d want to dine with.
"An 8:30 p.m. reservation with two friends found the restaurant absolutely slammed - the bar three deep and exceedingly loud while the more subdued upstairs was a mix of overpowering cologne, unnecessary music, a couple making out in plain view of thirty others and a private room." [Yelp]
"They treated us like kings too. Our waitress really put up with a lot of wine guy "hassle" and did a good job managing the flights." [All Things Andy Gavin]