Hey, Cliff Lee, Serafina Is Sorry and Wants You To Come Back

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On Wednesday, after a round of Wiffle Ball in Rittenhouse Square, Phillies star Cliff Lee decided to dine at Serafina, the new and always packed Italian import from New York that recently settled on 18th Street. Now, we’ve been hearing a lot of gripes about the wait there, which is understandable because it’s new and it’s in Rittenhouse, so everyone and their Gladwyne grandmother wants to check it out. But we’d think that someone like Cliff Lee would be entitled to, you know, a little expediting. After all, he did turn down a bigger paycheck so that he could be in Philadelphia.

But after the hostess explained to an unrecognized Lee that there would be a 30-minute wait (which probably meant more like an hour), he hightailed it to a.kitchen, the also new Rittenhouse spot from former Salt owner and onetime Philly Mag restaurant critic David Fields and chef Bryan Sikora. Serafina’s Rose Parrotta quickly learned what had happened and says she “went over to a.kitchen to see if he was really dining there and preceded to get sick to my stomach…” Parrotta explains that the restaurant was completely full but that if she were at the door at the time, she would have “physically removed someone”, though something tells us that Lee would be too classy to have let that happen.

In any event, Cliff, they want you to know that there’s a table waiting for you at Serafina anytime you’re hungry.

  • GrowlerKing

    GLADWYNE GRANDMOTHER!!!! That may be my new foobooz handle!

  • Uncklejason

    a.kitchen (despite that awful name) was so obviously the better bet.

  • Andrew

    This post is pretty sickening.

    #1. If the restaurant was full, what kind of moron would throw someone out of their chair so a guy who throws a ball every five days could sit down?
    #2. This hero worship is embarassing. Yes, Cliff Lee is a great pitcher, but that doesn’t entitle him to eat before any other human being. If there was a 30 minute wait, maybe Cliff could have gone and played wiffle ball for a bit.

    Seriously, this is friggin embarassing. I’ll never go to serafina because of this. They should ask that Foobooz take this post down, because it makes them look like idiots.

    And this post is not meant in any way to rip cliff lee. By all accounts, he went to a restaurant, there was a wait, so he went to another restaurant. thats what human beings do. They are presented with choices, they weigh them, and they make decisions.

  • colebert

    No need to stalk Cliff. Everyone should please stop blogging his every step. Also, he should wait like everyone else. I love the guy but no cuts.

  • Rudy

    a.kitchen was a much better choice!

  • blerg

    I’m with Andrew. Cliff didn’t throw a tantrum, and neither should Serafina.

  • JoJoWasAMan

    @GrowlerKing, Gladwyne Grandmother is actually the name of Marty Hamann’s newest project at the Union League. They will have an encyclopedic inventory of cured salmon.

    @Victor, thanks for this. I’m happy to see that “New Yorkers” completely f’ed up with Cliff Lee again. Plus, $17 carpaccio! I’ll pay for good food, but my carpaccio was brown. Doo doo brown. At least at Talula’s Django, I mean a.kitchen you know you’re getting to get taken deep with small, but TASTY portions.

    @Andrew. If you threw a ball every 5 days I would kick someone out of their seat to sit you. The difference between Cliff Lee and someone like us…is that they provide a service to the city. Cliff Lee helps my favorite team win baseball games. He makes me proud, even when he gets a homerun belted during the All Star game. Cliff makes my redundant, unexciting day better and I appreciate that. Especially when my wife has nothing better to do than complain about why we aren’t going out to eat at Serafina. She doesn’t understand that the one in NY blows and why eat at a copy of something already bad? I’d rather waste my money at R2L and that’s saying a lot.

    When you devise a plan to get us past the Braves in the Playoffs, then you can eat before Cliff Lee. Maybe someone will even buy your dinner.

  • Andrew

    @JoJoWasAMan
    I think Cliff Lee would be completely embarassed that some dopey hostess at some manhattan transplant in Rittenhouse would (or say that she would) forcibly remove a paying customer (who likely has gone to a phillies game, spent way too much money on beer and concessions, which paid Cliff’s salary) from their seat because he got a widdle hungry and had to put something in his tummy. The guy’s ego simply isnt that big.

    Now, if Cliff showed up and they bumped him to the front of the list to be seated next, that’s fine. I’ve never heard of someone being removed from a table so someone else could use it. That’s some Rosa Parks shit.

  • pj

    I bet the hostess got an earfull and or lost her job for not recognizing and coddling Cliff Lee.

  • sp

    the term “gladwyne grandmother” and its description by jojowasaman is anti-semitic and insulting. both victor and this commenter should choose their words more thoughtfully.

  • fin

    Serafina is a shitty restaurant in NYC – only douchebag athletes and entitled socialites go there anyway – i.e., AROD – not only is it expensive (even for NYC) but the food sucks too – too many other good places to go to in Philly

  • sk

    I’m glad most of the commenters have more sense than this person at Serafina. The description of “bouncing someone” reminds me of old mobster stories of piggish entitlement at the expense of other, equally important customers. If Cliff Lee really wanted to dine at Serafina he would have made a reservation, but he obviously didn’t care that much and found a more convenient eatery. No need to be sickened.

  • Sarah B.

    It’s bad enough the hostess seems to live under a rock and not recognize one of the most famous faces in the city. But to me, the worst part of the story is when the desperate manager of Serafina got “sick to her stomach” after walking over the A.Kitchen just to see if Cliff had gone over there. That’s just pathetic! And then said she would have “physically removed someone” to put Cliff at a table? Now seriously, why would I want to eat there knowing I could be asked to leave to seat a celebrity? I definitely won’t be now!

  • http://afterdinnersneeze.wordpress.com afterdinnesneeze

    i dunno guys/gals. i just came back from a.kitchen (literally – i just walked in the door), and i don’t see what all the fuss is about. i’ve done django and the table, [and the garden] multiple times and a.kitchen was quite a disappointment – it’s just not what i know he can cook.

    if you’re saying that a.kitchen’s a better choice, that’s not so much saying that a.kitchen’s a superb dining establishment, rather, that serafina is a poor one. i’ve never been, but now i might never go – lol!

  • Do the Math

    I love Cliff Lee to death, but let’s clear this up:

    “After all, he did turn down a bigger paycheck so that he could be in Philadelphia.”

    The Phillies are paying him $120 million for 5 years = $24 million per year.

    The Yankees offered him $150 million for 7 years = $21.43 million per year.

    Clearly he went for more money.

  • TJ

    Do The Math…..read the dictionary for the word: “guaranteed” The Yankees offered $150 million guaranteed even if he didn’t complete 7 years! Clearly went for the team he felt represented his values & chances at winning a World Series. Oh, and by the way; whose fans didn’t spit on his wife!

  • Gianni

    Avoid sarafina like the plague. The worst Italian food in the city. $28 for a dried up piece of branzino and greasy-oily potatoes. My brother got food poisoning from the shrimp in lemon cream sauce dish, which sounds like a bad combo anyway and my dinner the crispella was served unrecognizable because the dish was flooded with tomato sauce which made the crispella super soggy.

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    I think that Serafina can just suck on the fact that they blew it in every way imaginable.

    That said, oftentimes there is a party or two in a restaurant that perhaps overstays its reservation, chatting over after-dinner drinks. I suspect these are the people who would be ‘physically removed’, not somebody who’s about start dinner. I’ll bet that somebody would gladly wrap up their dinner for a chance to meet Cliff Lee for (let’s say 30-60 seconds).

  • Liz

    We went to Serafina and the hostess sat us at a table where we had one extra chair. Someone else, perhaps the manager, came over and told us we couldn’t sit there and made us move to another table. Serafina is over priced, crowded and loud. They do not like you to linger, even though you may have just spent a fortune. BTW – we had 5 different pastas and they all were below average at best.

  • Victor Fiorillo

    I think one of you needs to do a liveblog of your Serafina experience.

  • Deafmute

    I wouldn’t recognize Cliff Lee if he came in to my restaurant…

  • pj

    I like the hostess more for not recognizing Cliff Lee. Rose whats her face can go ahead and get sick to her stomach. Her quote made me even less inclind to go to the place.

  • Surrounded by Morons

    Anybody ever stop to think “physically remove someone” was said in jest?

  • Meow

    i feel bad for the hostess. some people just DONT follow sports, and there is nothing wrong with that. i wonder if she was fired. this is public humiliation for her.

  • GoodieStuff

    Cliff Lee is the coolest. He’s always been the man and this just proves it. He handled the situation like a humble human being and we could all take a lesson from that. He was hungry and didn’t want to wait because waiting sucks, so he went somewhere else and was probably not terribly bothered by it. A mean-spirited egomaniac of a celebrity would do something like demand to talk to the manager, express how mistreated he felt and that he’s never received this kind of treatment anywhere else, imply that the hostess should be fired for her disrespect, and then demand to be seated immediately. He’s just clearly not that kind of guy. That sounds more like something that A-Rod would do. Hypothetically, if the manager did ask customers to leave to make way for Cliff, he’d probably feel like a terrible asshole for letting her do that. Part of me now feels that Cliff will now never go to Serafina because of the awkwardness, but you know what? I think he’s cool enough to handle it.

  • http://www.PhillyChitChat.com PhillyChitChat

    The hostess wasn’t fired and there are 5 hostess’ so it’s not like anyone would even know which one it was. Serafina is still packed every night. They don’t take reservations except for parties of 6 or more. Lot’s of restaurants do well in this City based on location. I enjoyed my pizza there last week, my only complaint was it was really noisy as it was so crowded. It’s just a funny story. Of course people want Cliff Lee or a “celebrity” to sit in their restaurant, sightings usually make the paper, are tweeeted, appear on a Facebook wall, people tell their friends and it’s written up on blogs.

  • denise

    I agree with Andrew. Cliff Lee is great at what he does, but it doesn’t warrant the idiot at Serafina stating she would “physically remove” someone just so he could be seated?? I’ll be taking my business to a.kitchen.

  • Lisa

    Yeah, I think the “physically remove” comment was meant as a joke.

  • LB

    agree with Andrew.
    Hope the quote from Rose was not your writer’s writing…she did not “precede” to get sick…she would have “proceeded”;)

  • Victor Fiorillo

    @LB Thanks. Indeed, it came from an email. Good catch.

  • Cheltenham Charlie

    Music plays: Tony Bennett, ‘Rags to Riches.’ In one continuous unedited Steadicam shot we see Cliff Lee and a woman being escorted down an alley. They are whisked down a few steps into a dimly lit basement, where he dodges a low hanging light bulb. A man dressed in a tuxedo escorts the duo past prep cooks, dishwashers, waiters and busboys. Steam billows, dishes clatter, Spanish cursing can be heard.

    The small group parts a cloth curtain and emerges into an impossibly crowded, loud and bustling restaurant. The tuxedo-clad man snaps his fingers and two heavily tattooed, pierced servers clad in black spring into action. As if by magic a small table appears. Two chairs seem to materialize out of thin air. A finely woven tablecloth drifts down onto the table top. Two champagne flutes and a silver ice bucket holding a bottle of champagne appear. Outraged Gladwynne Grannies can be seen mouthing obscenities through the window. Fade to black, fin.

  • PAtty

    Rose was joking. She probably felt awkward about the snub but she wouldn’t ever physically remove anyone and its nothing to get sick over. That comment was taken out of context.

  • Bluehensfan

    Maybe it was the record hot weather, but something compelled me to ignore the abysmal things that I read about Serafina on Yelp! and block out of my mind that this was the place that actually turned Cliff Lee away. Well, the Yelpers are right once again, and Cliff, if you’re reading this, it’s a good thing you didn’t eat at Serafina because of all of the meals I have eaten in Philly from holes in the wall to finer establishments like Amada and Zahav, Serafina is far and away the worst meal I have had in this town. Our meal started out with decent bread but got worse when another member of our party was served carpaccio that had an odd brown tinge to it and not much flavor. My bruschetta consisted of four nicely toasted rounds of bread soaked with about as much olive oil as was humanly possible and topped with as many tomatoes as one could possibly balance on the toasts. Fortunately the tomatoes were very tasty and I ignored the oily bread. Disaster struck when we were served our entrees. Two members of our party were served two entirely different pastas, each equally deviod of any flavor. One pasta was supposed to have basil in it, which it did, in the form of small uniformly cut dried flakes that added no flavor. The addition of our server spooning on pre-shredded (as opposed to fresh mozzarella like in the finer establishments) didn’t help either. I ordered a margherita pie and when it was brought out, it was essentially a traditional pizza with the usual mozzarella that everyone serves everywhere with one (I kid you not) leaf of basil in the center of the pie and (oddly enough) four brown olives on top. No big pieces of mozzarella and one basil leaf. I called over our friendly server, who understood my confusion and told me that she did indeed order a margherita pizza for me and this is what it looks like (granted this was her third shift at the establishment but she had seen this train-wreck-of-a-pie before). I politely had her bring over the manager on duty (Letitia) to try to explain how the addition of four olives and one basil leaf makes this a margerita pie, and she explained that to get a pie with fresh mozzarella I should have ordered the “V.I.P. margherita pie.” I tried in vain to ask her how this pie was called a margherita because in my mind it’s false advertising. Seeing I was getting nowhere with her, I thanked her and proceeded to take a bite of the pizza. It was nowhere near Zavino, nowhere near Pietro’s, nowhere near any pizza joint in town, and not even as good as what I was served when I was dragged to the Olive Garden years ago. It was not as good as Lean Cuisine margherita pies I eat now and then during the week (hey at least Stouffer’s can spring for more than one basil leaf!). After a few bites I realized that there was no way I could stomach any more of this and asked our server to have the manager come back once again. Upon hearing that we wanted to talk to her for a second time, Letitia decided it would be a good idea to go outside and talk on the telephone in front of the restaurant in the hundred degree heat for five minutes. By then I had thrown in the towel literally and figuratively with the food and the manager’s antics, as this seemed particularly galling to me. I asked our server bring us the bill which we paid in full (a mere $79.27 before tip with the three sparkling waters!) despite her telling us how bad she felt so bad we did not enjoy our meals. After we paid, Letitia was kind enough to make it back to our table and we told her that her services were no longer needed.

    So if you were thinking of heading to Serafina, just about any place in town would offer a better dining experience.

  • http://serifina.com rose parrotta

    oh c’mon, completely kidding anyone who really knows me knows that!!!! and i really did not get sick to my stomach!!!!!!!rp………and ……………………….

  • phoenixville

    Just like the Parrot, never send a woman to do a man’s job