Domenico’s

I will have to be dragged kicking and screaming back to Domenico’s in Osage Beach. Yes, there’s a giant plastic bull in the parking lot. Yes, their specialty is all-you-can-eat prime rib. I’m not saying there weren’t warning signs. But I naively gave it a try. It was awful. Unspeakably bad. And to lend insult to injury, it was expensive.

First, toasted ravioli. Somebody in the kitchen opened a bag of frozen, breaded ravioli and fried them. They were served with canned marinara. Pretty lame, but hey, it’s fried ravioli. As much as I hate the saying, it’s perfect here. It is what it is.

Then, caesar salad. Inoffensive, but a tad heavy on the sauce.

But then, the entrees. I’d ordered the shrimp pasta. It sounded good. It looked okay, I guess. Lots of smallish shrimp, tossed with sauteed tomatoes and mushrooms atop linguine. But then I caught the scent of fish, always a good sign screeching tires and crushing metal are to come. And boy did it.

I tried the linguine first. There was nothing to indicate that they’d done anything with the pasta beyond boiling (too long), draining and tossing it on a plate. There was no sauce, no olive oil, no seasoning whatsoever.

The shrimp, as suspected, were past their prime and – aside from their fishiness – utterly tasteless. The tomatoes and mushrooms were fine, but at $18, this was easily the single most offensive plate of food I’ve ever had set in front of me at a restaurant. Mrs. SMEs, who found her salsbury steak – I mean veal marsala – decent, brainstormed with me. We’re going to give the 5 year-old some pasta, tomatoes, mushrooms and shrimp and say, “make us dinner.” And as I paid the $103 tab (&%*$#@%$) I tried to think of ways our kindergartner would fuck up a dish of pasta more spectacularly than what I’d just experienced. We’ll see. At least he’d toss in some olive oil and salt.

Domenico’s
4737 Highway 54
Osage Beach, MO 65065
(573) 348-5335

Advertisements

Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

23 thoughts

  1. oh Scott…I am sorry I didn’t respond when I read the raves on your fb page. We had a girl’s weekend down at the lake a couple of years ago and ate there for lunch. Tellers, Murry’s, Les Bourgeois, and Sycamore employees and/or owners were represented in our little group. It was so gross and the service was so bad we agonized about what to tip. As restaurant folks we couldn’t stiff, but at the same time we will give you lots and lots of rope to hang yourself on and if you still fail, then your tip is going to suck. I think we left 10% because that is all we could do in good conscious for ourselves and for the meal. So so bad.

    I have never eaten at the Blue Heron, but I have been for a wine tasting and the wine list is fabulous. I would go there next time before the winter sets in

  2. Hilarious image, Pam. Thank for sharing that. Our server was actually fine, though there were several interesting moments. The guy wrestled the cork out of the bottle while it was standing on the table. It was strange. Then, after nodding for fresh cracked pepper he held the mill over our salad in one hand, pressed the button on top and it buzzed to life. Electric pepper mill. Mrs. SMEs and I averted our eyes to keep from cracking up…it was bizarre.

  3. Scott, have never been to the Domenico’s at the Lake (and probably never will now), but I have to tell you the one at Jefferson City is very good. In fact, it is one of our favorite restaurants in Jeff. City for fine dining. I’m not saying to hurry there and do a comparison between it and the one at the lake, but I think you’ll find the one at Jeff. is much, much better!

    FWIW, we find the Blue Heron to be WAY WAY WAY overpriced for what you get. They do have the best after-dinner coffee served in a small vacuum press that’s delicious and very fun to watch brew and then get sucked down in the vacuum, but it’s very expensive as well, but oh so good! I think it’s Dutch coffee? Not sure of the origin, but I’m sure it’s European. That’s my favorite thing there!

  4. I was at a restaurant up in Wisconsin that had one of those electric pepper mills. It even lit up when the button was pushed! Very bizarre. While browsing one day at Bed Bath and Beyond I saw one of them on the shelf. Amazing what people will come up with to save the smallest amount of work…

  5. I must defend the electric pepper mills! I have one and love it. And, I have seen Ina Garten use one before, so they must not be that bad.

  6. but…but…but it’s an Arcobasso family tradition! Like Christine above, I too have never been to the Domenico’s at the lake, but unlike Christine, I’ve conspicuously avoided it BECAUSE I’ve eaten– twice– at the one in Jeff. It wasn’t awful, just overpriced for Chef Boyardee-level “Italian” food. I only ate there twice because the second time, someone else insisted on going there and I had hopes– soon dashed– for improvement.

    Which leads me to an overarching comment– thank you, Scott, for being a major force for improving the food scene in this part of the world. I can remember when Jack’s Gourmet/Coronado and Boone Tavern were THE go-to places in Columbia for “fine dining,” El Maguey was considered good Mexican food, and people actually claimed to enjoy the food at Heidelberg.

    So where are good places to eat at the Lake? Or is it all a wasteland?

  7. Thanks cyrano, even if the real credit goes to the growing number of serious restauranteurs in town and the clientele that recognizes quality. Still, happy to be a forum for discussing the good stuff.

    On the Lake, it’s mostly a wasteland. I think most people eating well – myself included – are cooking dinner in rental units. That said, I have had decent bbq at Wobbly Boots. Slim pickins, but I haven’t given up.

  8. SCOTT,
    I ATE AT DOMENICOS WITH MY FAMILY THIS PAST FALL AND IT WAS A DINING EXPIERENCE LIKE NO OTHER. I HAD THE ALL YOU CAN EAT PRIME RIB AND IT WAS TO DIE FOR!! I AM FROM CHICAGO WHERE WE HAVE SOME OF THE BEST STEAKHOUSES IN THE NATION, AND I WOULD PUT DOMENICOS UP AGAINST ANY OF THEM. MY WIFE HAD THE CHICKEN DANIEL AND SHE ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!! MY DAUGHTER HAD THE GROUPER AND THE WAY THEY PREPARED IT WAS A STYLE THEIR OWN AND WAS DELICIOUS. WE ALL TRIED THE SALAD WITH THE HOMEMADE CREAMY ITALIAN..AND WOW THAT DRESSING SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!! I HAVE BEEN CRAVING IT EVER SINCE I LEFT!! THEY EVEN HAD A CHILDRENS MENU FOR MY SON THAT HAD A GREAT VARIETY. THE ATMOSPHERE AND SERVICE WAS WARM AND FRIENDLY. I CAME TO FIND OUT THAT IT IS A FAMILY OWNED RESTAURANT AND HAS BEEN THERE MORE THAN 20 YEARS. I WILL SAY THAT THIS FAMILY HAS IT DOWN WHEN IT COMES TO WONDERFUL FOOD. I READ THE OTHER REVIEW AND I FIND IT HARD TO BELIVE THAT THEY ATE AT THE SAME RESATUARANT. I RECOMMEND THIS TO ANYBODY THAT I KNOW. A DINING EXPIERENCE THAT I CANNOT WAIT TO HAVE AGAIN THE NEXT TIME I AM AT THE LAKE

  9. Scott, you’re obviously someone who really couldn’t afford to eat at Domenico’s to begin with and I’m sure complained to try and get a free meal and it didn’t work. Probably something you do every where you go. If you find the Lake a wasteland, don’t go there. You are free to go some where else. I’m positive the businesses won’t miss you. My family has eaten here since they day they opened. Not once have we ever had a meal like you described. They will even go out of their way to make something that isn’t even on the menu for you. We have also become friends with other customers who go on a regular basis. It makes for an even greater experience when all of us show up on the same nights. And, and, and it is a great Arcabasso family tradition. Maybe you should try to expand that “great pallet” of yours a bit more and stay out of Denny’s.
    To Pam, Domenico’s hasn’t served lunch in over 15 years dumbass. So, if you’re going to throw in your cheap two cent opinion, make it a legitimate one.
    It’s running into self important whine bags like you people that can ruin a great time at the Lake. As much as you like to think you are something special, believe me, you’re not. You’re not impressive to anyone but yourself.
    To any others that might read Scotts self proclaimed expert opinion, you should try Domenico’s and other places at the Lake for yourself and then decide on what you like or don’t like. I wouldn’t take Scotts opinion as law, especially Pams opinion, she doesn’t even know what restaurant she’s trying to complain about!

  10. Thank you for adding your voice to the fray, Fan. For what it’s worth, Pam has worked in and managed restaurants – good ones too, if I remember correctly. And I, thankfully, can afford $103 dinners just fine…it’s when the food is as catastrophically bad as it was at Domenico’s that I get peeved.

    In all seriousness, I am glad that you like Domenico’s. People should have their go-to places. I feel very differently about this one, but if I find myself back at Domenico’s sometime and have an experience more akin to yours, I will be happy to share it here. And if you ever make your way up to Columbia let us know and we can suggest a restaurant or two up this way.

    Thanks,
    Scott

    P.S.: A “pallet” is a short, square base of wood used for shipping.

  11. I think I had the pallet at the Domenico’s in Jeff, so there’s no need for me to go to the Lake to get it. It tasted, um, a bit wooden. But “Fan” brings up a valid point about what’s important to different people about restaurants and food in general. “Fan” prizes the personal experience– making friends with not only the owners, but other customers there as well. First, it’s entirely possible that (s)he, as a regular, gets better service or better food or both than you or I, as a stranger or first-time eater there, might get. That would be far from a unique experience in mid-Missouri, or in St. Louis for that matter.

    But more likely, the social aspect of eating there enhances the whole experience for him/her in a way that simply isn’t going to happen for strangers like me. I guess I go to a restaurant for good food…and Domenico’s sorely disappointed me.

  12. Here now, I know Jeff and he’s DEAF. He’s always shouting. Can’t talk in a normal tone of voice. And ‘pallets’ – that’s what he chops up and heats his house with, so it’s only natural he’d get confused. I can’t believe they got shoes on him to get him into a restaurant, but I’ll bet that big cow they got outside was the deal maker.

  13. Scott, first let me apologize on my comment towards you trying to get a free meal. I don’t know you and I am sorry. Over the last few years, we’ve just noticed that people show up at the Lake miserable and unhappy and seem hell bent to make everyone they run into miserable also. It’s aggravating when you yourself are there to have a good time and you see that behavior everywhere you go any more.The whole point of getting away for a break, vacation or whatever is to have a good time and to de-stress, not get away and be even more miserable.
    With the economy in the dumps, we’ve also seen more people who are obviously trying for that free meal or bigger discount at the stores with b.s complaints. Pam’s complaint being an example of b.s.. How could she of had a bad lunch when they haven’t served lunch in years?
    I am sorry for my comment.
    Back to Domenico’s, whether they know you are a first timer or not, I highly doubt that they would give you any less quality food or service. That just doesn’t even sound right.
    My family has never had a bad experience there, but obviously people can have an off night. If you’re not happy with something, tell them! They’re not the type of people who would get offended and I’m positive they would want to make things right to make sure you leave happy and full.
    Most of their employees have been there since the beginning too, so that also says something about the owners and their commitment to a great working place and a great dining experience. For the server who had issues with the cork, I know exactly who you are talking about. Yes, he is a bit of a clutz, but it can be entertaining! All of them are great people though and all like to make sure everyone has a good experience, not just the regulars.
    As far as the bull and the pepper mills, lighten up! Sure it might be a bit quirky, but they’ll laugh right along with you or get you to laugh about it.
    I honestly do hope you will reconsider your visit to the Lake and Domenico’s. While at Domenico’s, ask them of other places to go, they will be more than happy to tell you and have not been wrong in their recommendations of other establishments. Just tell them what you’re looking for.

    P.S. Thank you for the correction of my spelling on “palate”, I realized it after I hit the submit comment button. I actually know how to spell it correctly so I don’t know why I didn’t.

  14. @ Fan – I give you credit for coming back and responding. Knowing Scott and Cyrano, I can attest to both of them being people who want good food and, like me, are willing to pay for it as well as drive a distance to get it. I have never dined at either Domenico establishments, so I cannot speak to the veracity of anyone’s post.

    But, this may be a bit off topic, I have to say as a newcomer to Missouri, the Lake area leaves a sour taste in my mouth. In the off-season, the staffing at restaurants seems lower than what is otherwise needed and a bit too laid back. The “regulars” seem to be the clientele that gets better tables, their places cleared faster and water glasses filled. This has been my personal experience in several places over the past few years while trying some of the better restaurants at the lake.

    The one exception was The Blue Heron – where the low staffing caused the Sous-chef served us and made sure we had a fine dining experience – which we did.

    @Cyrano – as always, my friend, your facility with words defines you. LOL

    Scott – report back after you try Domenico’s again. I need good local Italian food and I’m tired of flying to NYC.

    PS – are you considering a trip to Hallsville?

  15. Fan, thanks for coming back. My grandparents built and ran a Lake resort for years. My mom was raised there and I spent most of every summer there, so I have a bit of ownership in seeing it not ruined by the jerks and cheapskates you’re talking about. Good points, and well taken.

    Also, the point of a restaurant is not to make ME happy, but to make enough people happy that they come back and spend more money. They’ve clearly done that for you and others.

    Perhaps we need a Domenico’s Summit this summer?

    Scott

  16. What idiot would order “all you can eat” prime rib. I’ve been to Domenico’s at the lake a number of times and have been very pleased with the food and the service. Most of you complaining about your food must have been having a very off day or weekend. I like how people just LOVE to give their opinion. Blows my mind the things people say about anything, let alone their restaurant experiences. If you don’t like this place then don’t go there. Go home and make a TV dinner and stay out of the public.

  17. If you’ve been to Domenico’s you know the all you can eat prime rib is what they do. The sign on the giant plastic bull out front pushes that. I didn’t order it, but I can’t hold it against someone for taking a restaurant up on their specialty.

    Between the dreary menu, dated decor and laughable execution on my visit (and most of the others that have commented here) I doubt very seriously that this was an off-day.

    And this is a food blog. I, and others, come here to discuss and share our experiences and opinions about food.

    I’ll take you up on the TV dinner as an alternative to Domenico’s, however.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s