Waiting is no fun and waiting for a meal is even less fun.
—Robin Summerfield, SCENE writer
In mid-November, Pizzeria Gusto chef Eric Lee delivered one of the most fantastic pizzas--a thin-crust melody of caramelized onions, salami Calabrese, oozing cambozola, citrus-spiked arugula and sweet, yet tart fig jam--I have ever tasted.
After a fantastic dinner, I cursed myself for not trying Gusto sooner.
What else? Pizza from Pizzeria Gusto (courtesy Pizzeria Gusto)
Sure, the Academy Road eatery had received rave reviews during its more than five years in business. Sure, it had made everyone's best list. And sure, many of Winnipeg's hottest chefs had helmed the big wood-fired oven.
On paper it all made sense. But for me, the only paper that really counted was the reservations list. And Pizzeria Gusto didn't have one.
Now either you're the type of restaurant patron who can go with the flow and wait for the first available table. Or, you have kids, a pricey babysitter and one precious date-night per month.
And Gusto, it seems, started the "no-reservations" trend in Winnipeg when it first opened. Others have followed and today, Tre Visi Café on Grosvenor and Segovia on Stradbrook are also first-come, first-served.
Segovia on Stradbrook (Google Street View)
While we're not exactly being overrun by dining-room dictators, it's all a bit annoying. Waiting is no fun and waiting for a meal is even less fun.
In Toronto and New York City, countless no-reservations food purveyors keep customers waiting and waiting for the privilege of their tables. New York Magazine
food writer Adam Platt dubbed it the "no-reservations generation" in a recent column. The Globe and Mail
has also taken Toronto eateries to task for the dining trend.
In Winnipeg, Segovia's owner wouldn't talk about her no-reservations policy. But others defend the practice. "People need to relax and embrace that every restaurant experience isn't going to be the same," says Winnipegger Sarah Zaharia, a 29-year-old new media professional who has dinner out about five times a week.
Owner Bobby Mottola (R) chats with a patron (courtesy Pizzeria Gusto)
But in November, Pizzeria Gusto reversed the no-reservations policy for its 60-seat restaurant. "It just made more sense for us," says owner Bobby Mottola. The reversal was due, in part, to feedback from customers, he says.
People want to know there will be a table waiting for them and now more customers come from around the city because they know they will get a seat, says Mottola.
That policy reversal, as it turns out, was the right decision for everyone involved. As Mottola says: "We're busier now that we're taking reservations."