The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

Sale e Pepe - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 17 April, 2011 20:02

Sale e Pepe (Italian for Salt and Pepper) is an Italian restaurant located in San Rafael de Escazú.
I had been to Sale e Pepe before a number of years ago for lunch with a friend of mine (if my memory serves me, I had a seafood pizza the last time I went). The restaurant was much as I remembered it.  Simply but tastefully decorated, and moderately busy, but not crowded. This most recent visit was with a much larger group (6 adults and a child).  We were arriving late from out of town, and rather than cook for a large hungry group of people, we opted for an Italian excursion to Sale e Pepe. 

Upon arrival we made our way to the second floor and sat down.  We were attended quickly and courteously and placed our orders.  As I frequently do when I eat at an Italian restaurant, I ordered a calzone, in this case with ham and cheese.  Others in the group ordered various pastas and pizzas, and we asked for a half-liter of house wine.  While the food was not brought to the table exceedingly quickly, it was brought within a reasnable amount of time -- except for mine.  I sat and enjoyed some of the wine while waiting for my dish and watching everyone else eat.  Everyone was very satisfied with their order, and the wine was very nice for a reasonably priced house wine.  In the meantime we asked the waiter several times what was going on with my order and we were told that it was taking the chef some extra time to prepare, but that it would be out shortly.  Well it wasn't out shortly.  By the time it was brought to the table everyone else was already FINISHED eating.  In any case, my calzone was finally served hot and since by that time I was rather hungry and had built up an appetite watching everyone else eat, I made short order of it.  The others didn't have to wait too long for me to finish.

I had no complaint about my order other than the inordinate amount of time it took to bring it out.  While, again, everyone was very happy with both the quality and quantity of the food, and with the reasonable price tag of about $110 when all was said and done, it must be said that letting one person out of a group sit there while others are served is really not an acceptable practice in the service industry.  I don't let things like that irritate me, but others might (especially if it were a business dinner, for example).  The restaurant could have handled this in a much preferable way:  instead of allowing me to sit there with nothing on the table in front of me, they could have brought out an appetizer (on the house), or they could have just said after passing the order to the chef that my order would take a while to prepare and thus given me the option of choosing something else.  I probably would have opted to wait (as I said, waiting doesn't irritate me -- I would have preferred to wait and get what I wanted), but it still would have been more proper to at least have the option.

All this said, I think it is somewhat likely that my case was more of an anomaly than the norm.  I have seen many restaurants come and go over the years, but Sale e Pepe has survived, which I deem to be a good sign overall.  They can't be upsetting too many people.   

There are a number of upper scale Italian restaurants available to choose from in Escazú and the western suburbs of San José.  Sale e Pepe is probably among the more reasonably priced options, and quality is not sacrificed (even my long wait is a good indication that the food is prepared from scratch and not just thrown together out of a package or a can).  I have eaten at much more expensive Italian restaurants here in Escazú, and while the service was wonderful, the food left something to be desired. Without a doubt I would rather complain about a long wait, than complain about a high price tag for sub par food. Still, it would be better to have no complaint at all. 

Note:  Sale e Pepe is located in San Rafael de Escazú, right next to (and slightly behind) the Pops Ice Cream shop.  Call them at 2289-5750, to make reservations.
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