September 13, 2006 11:52 PM | By Adam Roberts | 26 Comments

The Real Mauro?

People are asking if the real Mauro Maccioni (son of Sirio) is leaving comments on my Le Cirque post. Friends around me right now say, without question, that it is "definitely him." (Their reason is: "Why would someone pretend to be the son of Sirio? If they were going to pretend they'd pretend to be Sirio himself. It's too specific.")

Here's what Mauro has to say about my post:

I'm sorry that people may feel this way when they come into our family restaurant. I'm almost in tears listening to people mock us in this piece. My take is that although we are not at the very top of our game since the restaurant just opened, our reputation proceeds us and we are prejudged even before you step into our home. Alot of effort, compassion and pride have gone into this project and I am at a loss for words. i'm sorry people resent us so much and label us like this. People like me do read blogs and I am very human. You don't know me so how dare you pass so much judgement and resent towards us.

Sincerely, Mauro Maccioni

He later writes:

"I will have to brush off you mean spirited review and press on. You know how many our family has endured from unfounded resentful people. I have a very human family and 13month old daughter that needs me to make Le Cirque a wonderful place. You talk about being offended to the core. You offended me to the core cause you really just don't know us. Come back a few times, like the regulars (who are all not the snobs you think they are) and maybe we'll get to know you and you could become the 'regular' that you so seem to so much despise. Take the chip off your shoulder Mr. Amateur gourmet!"

I'll respond simply that I didn't write the review with a chip on my shoulder, although I was reticent to eat there because of all the flack the restaurant has received in the past. After eating at Le Cirque, I have to say that the flack, form my vantage, is well-deserved. I like a restaurant that treats its guests equally. Smart restauranteurs know how to give V.I.Ps special treatment without making the non-V.I.P.s feel slighted. Mario Batali, apparently, informs his chefs when a V.I.P's in the room and they send out the food faster and, perhaps even, with more care. But that's a back-of-the-house policy, it's not a front-of-the-house policy.

Our front-of-the-house treatment was poor. To put it bluntly: Sirio was mean to my mom. He dismissed her and didn't engage her the way a welcoming host might. Compare that to the way you are welcomed at Jean-Georges, where the smiles are bountiful, or even something more low-key, like Prune. Feeling welcome in a restaurant is essential for the rest of the experience to land. Imagine eating a 4-star meal at the home of your worst enemy. The food might be excellent, but you'll be itching to get out there as soon as possible. That's how I felt eating at Le Cirque: I was itching to get out of there as soon as I could. I popped out of my seat when dessert was over.

I'm sorry if my review seemed harsh, Mr. Maccioni, but my experience was intensely negative. Let's just agree that your family's restaurant is not for me and that I am, most certainly, not welcome there.


Let's just leave it at that and I'm am sorry your were so offended by us. My father is a great guy and he just a little tired from the opening. I'm sorry that you were treated so poorly and promise to diligently improve on all facets of the restaurant. I am confident that soon enough, you would be able to come in and find merits to our beloved restaurant . It's not easy but we are fixing the kinks. We have many customers who love the new digs and we are just happy about that
My sincerest Apologies, Mauro

I am a tad confused. The opening? Hasn't Le Cirque been around for a looooong time? It seems as though AG posted in his usual truthfull fashion. It wasn't a drive by review. It was honest and thoughtful.

We have a steakhouse here in Chicago who treats out-of-towners, and non-regulars to the second floor of their establishment. While the food is the same, the attitude is decidedly different.

Maruo - instead of taking such great personal umbrage about your perceived attack of your restaurant - why not have some "non-regulars" come in and see what they experience? You may learn more than you want to know.

Keep up the good work Adam.

I've followed this with interest, as it amazes me that one apparently must be a regular to rate proper treatment. My husband and I move in many different levels because of his work and it never fails to amuse me how groups of people are treated differently because they are with or are not with someone recognizable or obviously of greater wealth.

I would hope that such attitudes would change. Someday, perhaps.

Mauro is pretty retarded. Let me try to get this straight. A patron goes into a restaurant and wants to experience what the restaurant has to offer. Conversely, a restaurant's main goal is to meet the customer's expectations on a consistent level, as to make a profit.

It would seem in this case that the restaurant simply doesn't present the same experience to everyone consistently. This is a short-coming of the restaurant and not an attack at the core of a "family restaurant."

I just graduated from college, and there's a lot of food I would love to splurge for during special occassions. I am glad for this blog, because now it's readily apparant that Le Cirque on the wrong path, and indignation of its management is quite unappetitizing.

I admire your honesty and your bravery Adam. All too often the OLD GUARD are reluctant to accept the times. While I understand Mauro's defensivness I find it odd that he is in complete denial in regards to his father and how his father treats his guests. Why would you make this up? What would you possibly have to gain? You are being honest which it appears is a new concept to Le Cirque.
Perhaps Mauro should send a stranger in that he trusts and without prejudice review how the guest is treated.

If you're in the restaurant business then you have to be able to accept harsh criticism. Yes it is his "home" and he is human, but then there is all the more reason for him to take pride in his restaurant and to try to improve it.

Now what's the purpose of trashing somone's name on a blog? I can understand criticism of food and service, but to call someone retarded and otherwise seems unjust and unwarranted.

I've had many experiences in NY restaurants, both good and bad. I 've also been to Le Cirque on a few celebratory occasions, and I've always enjoyed the food and service.

I can understand if people didn't have good experiences there, but don't take personal jabs at the owner if he's trying to make the situation better.

Having just read your previous post, i have to say your bitterness shines through remarkably. I know you insist on it not clouding your judgment, but when the author of a review admits to being prejudiced before the restaurant experience, i'm more than a little skeptical about his conclusions. I'm sure you had a crappy experience, and well, that sucks. Hope you get over it.

It does seem that you had a poor experience at the restaurant and you are obviously fully within your rights to complain and not go back. However, you do realize that SOMEONE has to sit at the "worst table in the house," don't you? I realize your bad treatment extends beyond that, but you do come off a little like you are somehow entitled to a "good table." While I do agree that the service should be excellent for EVERYONE in the establishment (especially at those prices!), comments specific to the table don't make you sound any better than the attitude you say you got from the owner.

Hey AG!

Didja know that this got picked up by thefoodsection and edlevineeats?

Kudos for your diplomacy, and keep writing! Will never understand why folks get so wicked in "comments"...

I appreciate that your critique of Le Cirque revealed how elitism and status pervade many aspects of our lives, including restuaranting. Hopefully, Le Cirque and other expensive restaurants will learn from this experience that snobbery will ultimately bite them in the arse in the end.

And by the way, in a truly nice restuarant EVERY table should be pleasant enough to provide patrons with the feeling that they are welcome. There may be a hierarchy of tables, but no table should make you feel like you aren't 'good enough' to be seen by others at the restaurant. Nobody puts AG in corner!!

Thank goodness for food blogs where real people (without the prestigeous backing of a famous magazine or newspaper) can offer a refreshing, honest, opinionated and self-aware resturant critique -- and then respond to critiques of that critique. This sure as hell beats reading a blurb in Zagats. Keep on keepin' on, AG.

I second Loola's comment: people need to get a grip. And by "people" I don't mean you, Adam. Keep up the good work!

Actually, I remember an experience I had in a celebrity haunt in DC (Georgetown's Cafe Milano)...the glitterati, from government, finance, and the arts/Hollywood types all are promptly seated in the first floor "seen and be seen" section...the rest of us hoi polloi are relegated to the second floor..
But the big difference here, it seems, is that the owner is unfailingly gracious to all, the food and service is great for everybody, and you know what? That second floor is beautifully appointed, too, and actually, I prefered it to the first floor...much quieter, more spacious, and who cares if I can't dine next to the celeb who just rolled into town to testify in front of Congress?

I really think that you've taken this thing with Le Cirque too far. You've been apologized to. It's possible that there was a simple misunderstanding...perhaps that, because you understand that you have some power via the internet and can strike back when you feel slighted, you feel you should have been treated like royalty. Based on your writing, you may just very well be an annoying person. And if the big guy wasn't in the mood to be cloyingly sweet, should he fake it? In fact, it doesn't sound very sincere to have approached Mr. Maccioni as if you were trying to get something from him. I am just a working stiff and couldn't even think about having lunch at Le Cirque. Dinner would be half my mortgage. As it was stated by someone else earlier...why didn't you just say you didn't like the table? I'm not saying it's okay that you got an uncooked artichoke delivered to your table and maybe the food was not all that it was supposed to be cracked up to be...that visit...but you could bankrupt a restaurant (yes, you, the self-proclaimed amateur) by using broad strokes to paint them as bad people. I personally would prefer to be in the out of the way, quiet dining room. That, to me, is a good table. I'm afraid you've put your proverbial foot in your mouth.

Have to admit, though, it won't stop me from reading your blog...even if I still haven't figured out why.

So because Sirio was mean to your mom, you write a review that says no one should eat at this restaurant. If no one eats there – the place closes. Is that your goal? Because even after Mauro tried to make amends – you are standing hard.

You have a voice people listen to and trust. You could have made the review constructive criticism versus all the hating. Negativity begets negativity which is probably why there’re some harsh comments here.

You spent a considerable amount of money -- you should have been treated with courtesy. It happened to Ruth Reichl ten years ago at Le Cirque. She contrasts VIP treatment with being an average Jane in her book Garlic and Sapphires.

The word "amateur" translated to it's original French means "lover". I think that's what you've previously conveyed in your blog — that you love food and the food experience. That's been the appeal for me. Now, it seems, you're showing a different side of being an amateur — a person who is unprofessional, unseasoned, possessing limited experience, a dabbler in something.

"Only a Jerk Would Eat at Le Cirque" is the kind of snide, easy title that works because it rhymes not because it's a fair and nuanced review of an established restaurant. It doesn't give anyone contemplating spending an evening out information that would be helpful in making their decision. Bile is seldom really helpful to anyone and it doesn't belong in the discussion of good food.

Maybe graduation is a time to think about shifting gears from being a good time Charlie with a bon mot and a blog to get revenge in to being a responsible, productive adult. There's a serious opportunity for reflection here. I hope to take it to heart so that you can move on from being an amateur.

This is a blog, not the NY Times. If you felt slighted and didn't have a good time at Le Cirque, then this is the place to say it. Your opinion won't put the place out of business, so why is everyone all up in arms about your commentary? Why is Mauro such a huge excuse-making baby? Why should he care about the opinions of one blogger? have become far more important in the world of food than anyone would suspect....!

I love your posts, Adam. You are genuine, sincere and honest about your opinions.

I believe that Maccioni read your post and got all of his "friends" to bombard your blog with rude and ugly comments to belittle your entry regarding his restaurant.

Don't let them get to you! Keep being excellent with your posts!

Just to set the record straight. I don't know the owners of Le Cirque. Or AG, for that matter. I haven't eaten in a NYC restaurant in 30 years. My comments are solely about the writing in this blog. And they're my spontaneous reaction prompted by no one.

If AG is becoming influential with no more credibility than this blog and purely subjective, emotional, and, in the case of Le Cirque, nasty from the hip reactions, it's a very sad commentary on a shallow society.

I know the concept of a blog is fun. And he works hard at being entertaining. When that's what's going on I guess it's fair to only expect cheerleading and backslapping. When it turns vindictive, that's something else altogether and I'm glad to see there is reaction that should make him think about it.

Oedipal complex aside, is this Blog about hurt feelings, or food?
I have been to the new Le Cirque, with my mother i might add, and we find it delightful. From the private driveway, to the silky smooth interior, Le Cirque melds perfectly into the amazing architechture of the Bloomberg Building.
The food was fantastic. In fact, while the service needs work, the food rivals the likes of Daniel, Per Se, and Babbo.

My goodness. Let's all take a breath. First of all, it was HIS EXPERIENCE. As a citizen of this wonderful country we live in, he is allowed, encouraged and guaranteed the right to express his opinion in any way he sees fit.
I adore all of the faceless, who find it necessary to grind an axe under an anonymous moniker.
His is experience is his to own, his to retell, his to share in the way of his choosing. The rest of us can read it and move on, or you can show your disgust by not reading again. Adam is well within his rights to say what he chooses in this arena. If you disagree, write about it in your own blog, or at the very least have the balls to post with an identity. *kiss kiss*

Maouro has really got to be kidding...He wants to cut him slack!

I,ve dropped $ 1,000's at the various Le Cirques over the years and have come to expect 3 things:
1-Shoddy Treatment
2-Uneven Service
3-Food both overrated and way overpriced

Sorry Mauro, the only ones who deserve to whine are us...your legions of duped clientale...

I really think that you've taken this thing with Le Cirque too far. You've been apologized to. It's possible that there was a simple misunderstanding"

I dont think Adams taken this too far at all...
I,truly believe that he, like most of us amateur gourmets are very tolerant, patient good-natured people who just expect a good dining experience at mostly typical NYC sky high prices...But i am not gpoing to be taken for a FOOL...

Believe me, Adam was not misunderstanding anything when he was met with the typical Maccioni trait of sang-froide, gruff treatment of his guests, seating in Siberia and raw artichokes.

If Henry Kissinger or Barbera Walters strolled in do you think any of the above would,ve taken place?

Jesus Adam, I am so jealous of the drama you get on your blog. I put up a video of people dressed as airplanes knocking down twin towers mode from budweiser cans people yawn. You give a snooty restaurant a bad review and people lose their shit.

I like the lady who said a dinner would cost half her mortgage. She lives in a 4 square foot apartment.

I hope that this is a guy pretending to be this restaurant guy. If it really is him, responding to a bad review is super lame dude. Ask Vincent Gallo. He feels like an asshole.


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