Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Much Blander, But Not Much Cheaper

I've always cringed at the thought that many Americans get their introduction to "Italian food" by dining at a place like the Olive Garden or Buca di Beppo.

"But, hey," I used to tell myself, "that's a more affordable way for middle-class people to eat what they think is Italian food." Yet, having seen the menu prices for Buca di Beppo's Washington location, that explanation no longer makes sense.

Entrees basically start at $17 (to be more precise: $16.99), and that's for the small portion. And side dishes are a lot more pricey than I would have expected.

So what gives? Why eat second-rate, bland Italian food at prices that aren't much below those of a bona fide, high-quality restaurant? You'd eat far better at Sorriso (in Cleveland Park) than at a place like Buca di Beppo -- and without spending much more money.