Contemporary Fiction

Faliero’s Ristorante Italiano

208 West Resler Avenue

Valley Heights, TX 78901

Recent Review:

The Worst Meal I’ve Ever Tasted

Submitted by user R. Talamantes, 30-Sept-2023, 11:48 p.m.

Normally I don’t post reviews on this site, but this time I felt I had to.

This was far and away THE worst meal I’ve ever tasted.

The service was impeccable, though, which makes this review so difficult to write. But if I set the table, as it were, then you’ll see why I gave this restaurant zero stars.

So on Friday, I was talking to a coworker about plans for the weekend. I told him I had a date night planned with my girlfriend for Saturday (today) and we were both craving Italian.

“Have you ever been to Faliero’s?” he asked. I said no. I had heard of it before from friends. My uncle Jose once worked there as a dishwasher back when it moved from the original east side location to the new one in the Corona Hills neighborhood. That was a LONG time ago.

Anyway, my coworker told me it’s a lovely family restaurant and it has a wonderful date night ambiance. Okay, great, I’m sold.

“Be sure to get the fettuccine alfredo with chicken,” my coworker said. I won’t use his name here because he didn’t make the meal. He said he’s had a great meal every time he’s gone there. So I don’t know what happened when my girlfriend and I went tonight.

Well, fast forward to Saturday morning. My girlfriend (whose name I’ll also omit, to protect the innocent) and I walked to the Valley Heights Farmers’ Market close to downtown, in the trendy Fillmore neighborhood. Since it was such a lovely, sunny day, there was a larger crowd than normal. But we wanted to go and get some fruit and my girlfriend wanted to buy a couple of succulents from one of the plant vendors there.

A guy bumps into me as we’re looking at the oranges. I turn to see if he would apologize. No. He just keeps on walking and chatting loudly with his wife about god-knows-what. I hate it when people bump into you and don’t even apologize. It was his fault, he could have made his way around me since there’s wide walkways at the market. But no. He just felt he had to walk right into me and not apologize. Whatever.

So we get to the plant seller my girlfriend had talked about. They were out of succulents. “I’ll have some in a couple of weeks when the next market is scheduled to be here, so come back then,” the vendor told her.

We start to head out of the market when a guy who is out on a jog runs into me as we get to the intersection. He coughed loudly and apologized. At least he was nice about it, but I was concerned about that cough. Don’t know if he was a smoker or he had some illness. I just hope I didn’t get sick.

Anyway, we load up our purchases into our car, and we drive back home.

So later on, we get ready for the date night.

My girlfriend was stuck between a nice purple skirt she wanted to wear with a black turtleneck and some new knee-high boots she bought last week, or a pair of grey slacks she wanted to wear with a dark blue cable-knit sweater and a scarf around her neck. “Can you let me know which one looks better?” she asked me. I said I liked the skirt and turtleneck outfit idea. To which she said yes, and then after a few minutes she said, “Never mind. I’ll wear the slacks. I feel they’re more elegant for this restaurant we’re going to.”

THEN she says, "Wait," and goes back and changes into the other outfit. But then she changed her mind again and went with the slacks, sweater and scarf outfit.

“Fine,” I said. “Let’s go,” and then I started to cough. I didn’t think much of it, so I got a lozenge from the medicine chest in our bathroom. Which I think had expired. It was supposed to be cherry flavored, but I didn’t get any of that flavor on my tongue no matter how hard I sucked on the lozenge.

So on the way to Faliero’s we took Mesa and had to turn right on Resler. As we’re getting closer there’s a crash involving a tuned-up Honda Civic and a police car. The Civic was driven by a teenager who, when we inched past the scene as the cop started talking to him, reeked of marijuana. “Where are his parents?” my girlfriend muttered. Another police vehicle approached and the cop helped to direct traffic while the first cop, whose car the Civic ran into, then focused on getting the teenager’s license and registration info.

We’re just about to get to Resler when a homeless guy — who I’ve seen a lot on that stretch of Mesa, since I usually head out that way to make deliveries for my job — runs out into the street and almost gets hit by a truck. The truck while braking swerved across two lanes of traffic. Meanwhile the homeless man starts dancing in circles in the lane my girlfriend and I are driving in. He sees me and nods. He recognized me.

“Let me get out of his way,” I said to my girlfriend and we took the center lane and after we passed the homeless man, we got into the right lane in order to turn onto Resler.

So I want to add, I’m a guy who just wants a nice meal with the woman I love. And my coworker really talked up Faliero’s. And since we were really craving Italian that night, my girlfriend and I started to get excited.

Once we found parking — which wasn’t in the lot next to the restaurant, something my coworker didn’t warn me about — we walked over to the main door of the restaurant. Now this part of the experience was just superb. Salvatore, the host who greeted us, was just the kindest soul. He said there’s a ten-minute wait for a table, so my girlfriend and I took a seat in the waiting area. Salvatore took a call for a reservation next week, but after that he came to talk to us. His grandfather was Faliero Morinelli, the man who started the restaurant. Salva, as he wanted us to call him, is Faliero’s grandson and started working there after he retired from his original job at the phone company.

As we were talking I heard "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)" by the Buckinghams playing through the restaurant.

"I love this song," my girlfriend said. We're both big fans of Sixties pop music.

"You know why this is so good?" Salva asked us. He then answered for us quickly, "Because the band has Italian-American musicians," which he punctuated with a smile.

“You will definitely have an excellent meal, signore,” Salsa told me. “You and the signorina will love it.”

I hope so, I thought. My girlfriend looked at me and smiled, then excitedly gripped my hand a little tighter.

We were then called to our table by our waiter, and we said our goodbyes to Salva.

The waiter, whose name I won’t mention here as he’s not guilty of the terrible meal, sat us and brought us two glasses of water and a small basket of bread. He was quite an experienced waiter who attended to three other tables in that part of the restaurant. I started coughing a little more, and I finished my water in the hopes that would help. I then felt my nose get soggy and I sniffled a bit.

“Are you feeling okay?” my girlfriend asked. “We can get it to go.”

“I’m good, babe,” I replied and smiled. “It’s date night. I don’t want to ruin it. Been looking forward to this all week.”

The waiter took our order. My girlfriend picked the lasagna with meat, and I asked for the fettuccine alfredo with chicken, which is what my coworker recommended. We also got two glasses of chianti and an extra basket of bread.

My girlfriend and I sat and enjoyed our wine. The atmosphere at Faliero’s is amazing. It’s suitable for larger gatherings, while there are parts of the restaurant where a couple can enjoy their dates without too much noise from the other tables. And after the day we had, all I wanted was a tasty meal. My taste buds were tuned to fettuccine alfredo. My girlfriend’s mom makes a very good version, so that was my point of comparison.

The food arrived. Everything looked great. Everything smelled great, or should have. It wasn’t as present an aroma than what I expected. I started to cough a little more, so I had to turn my head and cough into the fold of my elbow.

“Babe, we can get this packed up to go if you’re not feeling well,” my girlfriend said. I shook my head and gave her hand a reassuring tap with my fingers.

“No, no, we’re good,” I insisted. “Let’s enjoy this here.”

So I took one bite of the fettuccine after I twisted up some of the pasta around the tines of my fork. Then I jabbed a small, savory-looking piece of grilled chicken, put it up to my mouth and took a bite.

I tasted nothing. This couldn’t be, I thought. How could something so savory be so… bland?

“Here, try this,” I said to my girlfriend. “I don’t get any flavor from it.”

She got her fork into the pasta and took a small chunk of chicken.

“It’s very tasty,” she said. “And this lasagna is to die for. Want to try a piece?”

“Sure,” I said. I tried to hide my frustration in that I didn’t get a good taste of the fettuccine. I wondered why that was. Did I let that jerk at the market get to me by him not apologizing after he walked into me? Was the jogger who coughed as he ran into me? Or was it seeing the homeless guy on Mesa dance in traffic? Or the idiot teenager who was driving while stoned and happened to run into a police car? Or was I putting too much expectation on this meal? All I wanted was a great meal with the woman I love at a restaurant that came highly recommended.

I took a few more bites of the fettuccine alfredo before I decided to call it. The worst meal I’ve ever tasted. Or didn’t taste, as I seriously could not get any flavor from it. Not the rich, creamy goodness of the alfredo sauce. Not the alluringly salty taste to the pasta, or the slight marinade slathered onto the chicken before it was grilled to perfection? Nothing. So pleasing to the eye, yet so lacking to the taste buds? How could this be?

UPDATE, 1-Oct-2023, 10:38 a.m.:

So maybe I was too rough on Faliero’s in my original post.

Turns out I tested positive for Covid this morning. Apparently losing your sense of taste is one of the symptoms. And it just happened to hit me during our date night.

I think it was from the jogger, or that jerk who bumped into me at the farmers’ market. I don’t think it was Salva or our waiter; they seemed pretty healthy.

Thankfully, my girlfriend tested negative. Since we’re living together she’s sleeping in the living room while I isolate in our bedroom. Once I’m over this we’ll give Faliero’s another shot.


Mr. Talamantes, we’re sorry you had such a terrible day before you came to our restaurant. We hope that you will have a much better experience on a future visit. In fact, I just emailed you a coupon for 20% off your bill for your next date night. Salva and our waiter were both tested for Covid and thankfully they had negative results. I hope you have a quick recovery and that it’s a mild case. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to make a reservation once you’re in better health. My number is below.

October 03, 2023 03:08

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Sarah Saleem
13:51 Oct 24, 2023

I liked the twist in the end!


David Sanchez
04:49 Oct 26, 2023



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