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Toscanini's Restaurant, Ocho Rios

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The Rise and Fall of Toscanini

Posted on: May 22, 2013 at 2:52PM

By Guest

I have seen some other glowing reviews on Toscanini - I actually wrote one several years ago. This year when we returned, both in February and again in May we were shocked at the poor quality of the food, the diminished selection available on their “chalk board” menu and the inattention to detail of what used to be some of the finest Italian food in Jamaica - or really anywhere. We understand that there are family issues - it is a family owned business - and that was made clear to the all 6 diners that evening. What is distressing is not only is the front of the house no longer covered by the vivacious and uncompromising Lela, but the chef announced to one of the diners when she inquired why wasn't he back in the kitchen as opposed to working on a computer - he stated 'I have done that - I am above that now'. That is a big mistake since the chef is an excellent cook when is at the helm in the kitchen. Toscanini had a wonderful recipe for not only authentic and creative Italian cooking but also for the ambiance. The friendliness of the staff and the "being back home feeling" that we always enjoyed whenever we went (which was usually 3 or 4 times every year for the last 11 years) was missing this year. The food on this visit was actually worse than the Olive Garden chain in the states. They did not have eggplant parmesan so they substitute zucchini for the eggplant – that would have been OK except there were about 6 small slices in an insipid tomato “sauce” with a grating of parmesan cheese. Two of the past dishes were finished in a tomato cream sauce that was reminiscent of a can of hunts stewed tomatoes mixed with a little heavy cream and so parmesan AND the past was clearly stale according to one of our guests who is from Spezia, Italy. We were told the pasta was homemade – it clearly may have been but had been sitting around for days. Everything was just not good. This is a place that others have loved, that we have told many others to go to and that we regarded as a hidden gem in Jamaica. Now the six of us who just waited to get back to Jamaica every year to eat at Toscanini not it is gone…but Pierluigi, you have to get back in the kitchen and bring it back. You must.

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