I'd been looking forward to trying Azzurro's ever since I saw it on Urbanspoon and checked out the website. Richmond seems to be a hotbed of delicious Italian restaurants from the ever popular Mama Zu's and Edo's Squid, to (my favorite) Maldini's, so there's a multitude of choices when you're craving pasta. I figured Azzurro's would have to be on par to stay afloat in this environment, but after the meal we had there last weekend, I am not so sure what's keeping them open. Well, okay, that's admittedly a little harsh. In truth, my meal was not so hot, but there were others who enjoyed theirs. However, the service was a real problem for everyone. Most of us only got to order one drink for the whole meal (the smart ones got a bottle of wine), and it took us forever to get the check. The waitress seemed pretty capable, but I think she had too many tables and we got the short end of the stick.
The appetizers and salads are all meals in themselves. I ordered the beef carpaccio (as I am wont to do) and was so excited to tear into it that I totally forgot to take pictures of any of the appetizers, so you'll have to use your imagination. My carpaccio was very good, although admittedly it's hard to mess up raw beef. I did take issue with the mountain of salad it was on top of and the fact that they used thickly shredded parmesan instead of shaved. It seemed like the generic shredded cheese you get at Kroger. But that's me being picky. I do give them props for letting Steve order shrimp wrapped in prosciutto off menu (an item that had been removed). Unfortunately it was so salty that he couldn't finish it. I can't remember the other appetizers, but overall I think they were well-received.
(clockwise from top left: penne vagabundo, bucatini carbonara, tortellini azzurro, espresso martini, key lime martini, vitello parmigiano, toasted pepperoni pizza)
Steve and I both ordered the carbonara which is a favorite, but again it was waaaay too salty. I think the problem was the prosciutto they were using was extra salty, and they didn't account for that when seasoning the rest of the dish. I only ate about a quarter of the meal and declined a box which is almost unheard of for me. I think the rest of the dinner guests enjoyed their main dishes well enough although the salt issue was a common theme. The desserts were pretty decent, and again, gigantic portions. I had the espresso martini which was so good I wanted to drink it in one gulp (I resisted that urge.)
Overall, while Steve and I didn't enjoy our meals the rest of the table seemed happy enough, but the service just put a dark stormy cloud over the whole thing. In a restaurant of that quality, with those prices, having to look around for a server and never getting a drink refill is just unacceptable. Maybe they were just extra busy that night and we got unlucky, but unfortunately with the multitude of great Italian restaurants around here, they aren't going to get a second chance from us.
Pros: We hear it's great for lunch
Cons: Salt! And really bad service. And did I mention the salt?
My rating: 2 sporks out of 5
Location: 6221 River Road,
Henrico, Virginia 23229