Young and Hungry

A Disgruntled Reader Suggests Y&H Change His Review of Pizzeria Orso


Melisse Baylor sent me an e-mail this afternoon, under the heading, "pizzeria orso — you mind want to amend your review." Never mind the typo, I got the idea. Melissa Baylor and her family had a bad experience at the new Falls Church pizzeria, which I had raved about earlier this week.

Below is the full text of her e-mail:

We read the reviews, including yours, that were in the Washingtonian and that were hyperlinked on the Pizzeria Orso website and were so excited to go. We love Two Amys and 2941, so we had high hopes. Our family went last night before 9p. We had to wait 15-20 minutes for a table – not a big deal, my husband and I got drinks at the bar. After getting a table, we had to wait another 5 minutes for a server. Her first words were – I have some bad news, we are out of pizza dough. She didn't apologize, make suggestions for other things to eat, or anything. When we expressed our shock without cursing or screaming – just pretty surprised that a pizza restaurant ran out of dough, she said I'm sorry, turned her back, and walked off. Our family of four was just left there. (While I appreciate the fact that dough is made daily there, the ingredients for dough are not massively expensive and they might want to consider erring on the side of having to throw some out).

As we were leaving, another group was being seated. My husband asked them if they knew the pizzeria was out of pizza, and they did not – the hostess had not warned them either! After that, I asked the bartender to get the manager – still calmly and politely – but the manager did not show up and after a few minutes we left.

I am shocked at the total disregard for the customer. At a minimum, we should have been told upon arrival that they were out of dough. I feel like we were almost tricked into spending money at the bar. In my mind, an apology and possibly an offer of a freebie on our next visit would have been much more appropriate – then we would have been disappointed but still would have returned.

I can only hope that food critics get much better treatment than the rest of us.

I contacted Pizzeria Orso's publicist, who put me in touch with Thea MacQuaid, the general manager and wife of pizzaiolo Edan MacQuaid. She said that they were expecting Tom Sietsema's First Bite column on Wednesday, but not the other reviews, like mine, which also came out this week. As a result, the husband and wife team had not prepared enough dough balls for last night. Edan MacQuaid had prepped 360 balls, which lasted until about 9:30 p.m.

"Because of the 36 hour fermentation, we can only plan so much beforehand," Thea MacQuaid told me. "When we're out, we're out."

The GM said that the Baylor family was unfortunately seated shortly before the kitchen found out about the problem. Thea MacQuaid and an assistant GM then went into the dining and started to notify customers. By the time, the managers had alerted patrons, MacQuaid added, the Baylor family had already departed.

"I feel horrible that we could not rectify the problem while she was here," Thea MacQuaid said. The diners who did stay despite the dough outage were treated to free gelato, she added.

Thea MacQuaid plans to contact the Baylor family and make up for the problem. Her husband, meanwhile, has prepped 500 dough balls for tonight's service.

  • Derek

    Thanks for posting that reader's email Tim. Only in America, at a time when fellow citizens are being killed in Afghanistan and losing their livelihoods to an oil spill, can people get so bent out of shape over a pizza shop running out of pizza (at 9:30 pm no less). So many great quotes, like "When we expressed our shock without cursing or screaming..." I fear they normally curse and scream? "possibly an offer of a freebie on our next visit" Nasty sense of entitlement.
    The best is "Our family of four was just left there." The imagery this statement conjures up is LOL funny. I can just imagine the look of despair, desperation and hopelessness on their faces when they got the news, and their feeling of complete and utter abandonment as their fellow diners feasted on neapolitan deliciousness around them.
    I would love to see video of the Baylor family's demands for satisfaction being met by the MacQuaids.

  • Anon

    Pupatella ran out of dough several weekends in a row before 8:00pm.

  • foldingtime

    Derek, you make some good points, but, really couldn't you say that about anything in life? It's like saying, "Don't complain about having cancer, because at least you don't have cancer and COPD and live in Ethiopia."

    There are always "worse things in life"--does that mean that we should never complain? Maybe we should just never review restaurants at all, because there are "fellow citizens being killed in Afghanistan." I guess we should wait until after the war ends before we ask for our order to be correctly filled.

    And, I mean--come on, really? Pizza dough is about the easiest thing in the world to make. So you have to make some dough that is fresh, not your special "36-hour" Peter Reinhart deluxe--I think people will survive. Just say something like, "Unfortunately, we're out of our 36-hour dough. If you still would like a pizza, we would gladly offer you some fresh dough."

  • Rich

    Went the night of the original Y&H post and was the last group seated that could order pizza at 7:45pm. Everyone else after that time was notified that they were out of dough. After looking over the menu and ordering a pizza, the waitress comes back 15 minutes later and tells us that they were out of dough. She suggested a sandwich as that is all they had left. I understand they were packed that day, but they need to have a better system for their dough. People should not be seated and then be told after they order that they ran out of dough. There were people that had ordered way before us that could not get pizza too. I hope they get their act together, but I will probably wait a few months before trying again.

  • Rbh


    Pizza dough is not the easiest thing to make, or perhaps you can give them a tutorial.
    I suspect that Orso has strict standards for their dough as Edan takes his craft rather seriously and will likely not put out an inferior product to satisfy the great unwashed.

    Or you could just go to the store and get crappy frozen pizza and share it with Baylor family

  • Drew

    I was one of the people who ate there anyway despite them being out of dough. My observation was that this staff is obviously very green and were completely unprepared for how to deal with this problem. It was a Wednesday night which is traditionally a very slow night for restaurants and they were slammed by a rush of customers. I don't think that the staff was rude at all, I think that a lot of them just didn't know what to do or how to react. This situation was unfortunate but doesn't change my view of the restaurant at all. On the contrary, I'm glad it happened because I tried some of their awesome appetizers / sides like their lamb meatballs and baguette with tomato rub and proscuitto.

  • Michael K. Wilkinson

    360 balls of pizza dough is a boat-fucking-load of pizza dough. This restaurant should NOT be criticized for running out after 360 pies, on a Wednesday night, mere days after their grand opening. They should be applauded. As other posters have noted, it sounds like the staff was caught with their pants down for a brief period, when this family was trying to order, and in the light of the following day after learning of the situation, have done exactly the right thing to make it up to this family.