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Bistro La Baia - 32 Reviews - 1700 Lombard St, Philadelphia, PA - Restaurants Reviews - Phone (215) 546-0496

Bistro La Baia

1700 Lombard St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 546-0496
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Having never been to La Baia, I read the 20+ reviews here. More than 50% of the reviews mentioned how poor the service was and how they were treated so badly, but almost 90% of th...


The food was good, and it was reasonably priced, however the service was horrible. I've never been treated so rudely in a restaurant, not even at McDonalds. I would never go back ...

Editorial review from Citysearch 8/5/2012

How good does the food have to be to over look rude and obnoxious service (or LACK thereof)? NEVERNEVER NEVER again. more

Editorial review from Citysearch 7/29/2012

Worst service ever. Food is okay for pre-prepared Italian. I eat out in Philly 2-3 times a week and have never had such a bad experience. I'm still shocked I was treated so rudely. more

Small and Friendly 7/11/2010

Great after theater dining experience. Have to try the shrimp and mushroom appetizer. Better yet order this appetizer and an arugula salad and combine the two. Wow............ Very pleasant wait staff I'm going to guess name Earold attending community college and plays soccer. Met owner and engaged in conversation. Both very attentive and friendly. Food is very good and served very hot right from the kitchen.. Not rushed and very reasonable pricing. Pros: Appetizers more

good food, bad service 3/28/2009

The food is pretty good. $13 for a pasta and shrimp dish. It's cash only, which is fine since the pricing is pretty good. They do charge a corking fee altho it's $2/bottle. I've been to a ton of Philly BYOBs and I never paid a corking fee at the 2 LA Viola's, Branzino, La Fontana, Bellini, etc. So it was a Saturday night, we were squished in a corner on top of the neighboring tables. We were there over 2 hours because the service was slow. We had to ask for bread, more water and such. The wait staff was plain rude, especially when I asked them about the check. So they put in a 18% tip, which I can understand for a group of people but they put the tip on not just the total bill but the tax too. I find that just plain wrong, I do not have to pay tip on tax. And being that the service was horrible, we didn't even think they deserved the 18%. I was there once before during the week and the service was good because we were the only table of people there. I think they are just too overwhelmed during there weekend. Pros: food god, reasonable priced Cons: slow service, rude wait staff, very small space more

Surely Philadelphia has better! 2/22/2009

In Philadelphia on a brief visit and stumbled into this place. We should have known that it's not exactly in the ""whatever we can do to please our customers"" business when we were told that it's cash only. My husband wanted to leave right then, figuring if they don't mind inconveniencing customers when it comes to payment, they won't mind inconveniencing them in other ways. But I was hungry, the food smelled good, so at my insistence, he checked his billfold and I checked my purse and we thought we had enough, so we stayed.\r \r I am surprised they are still in business. The food was just okay, but the service was arrogant, even rude. I thought maybe they only treat out-of-towners like that, but came here and read a review (too late, unfortunately). If La Baia were in a small town and it was the only place to go, that would be one thing. But Philadelphia is a great food town, and it surely has many wonderful restaurants from which to choose. As tourists, this place left a bad taste in our mouths. Who wants to be treated poorly in return for just average food? more

Worst experience EVER 1/19/2009

I advise anyone to stay away from this place, unless you enjoy being insulted/yelled at by the restaurant owners. \r \r Service was rude from the minute we walked in. We were meeting friends who had been holding a table for us. Granted we were running a bit late, but there was NO ONE else waiting so we really didn't think it was necessary to treat us like criminals. \r \r The restaurant is so crowded that one has hardly room to breath. When the lady who would later serve us (presumably one of the restaurant owners) was standing by the door, my friend could not get up to go to the bathroom. I asked her politely if she could move to the side so my friend could go use the restroom, she told me in a very rude voice to ""just wait"" (not sure what she was doing...). \r \r We were also told that we would have to vacate the table in 45 min (although it turned out no one had reserved our table)\r \r We were later joined by two other friends who did not eat an entree (but four of us ordered appetizer, entree, dessert and coffee, spending over $30 per person), but at no point in the process did they have to make ANYONE wait on a table or turn anyone away because we were ""taking up"" their precious seats. I suppose this was still enough reason for them to categorize us as customers who came to take advantage of their restaurant. Our candle at the table was never lit, and every one of our dishes was served with a good dose of contempt. \r \r When the bill came, we were quite surprised to find corking charges and roughly 20% gratuity added to our bill (neither was mentioned anywhere on the menu or by our server). When we politely inquired about these charges, we were yelled at by the restaurant owner (presumably husband of afore-mentioned lady) that he had been in the restaurant business for over 20 years and that we were not in a position to tell him what to do. \r \r Food was decent but by far did not offset even a fraction of the terrible experience. Pros: Good food (enjoyed the calamari appetizer) Cons: Extremely rude staff/owners, insult you when you inquire about unexplained charges more

Go If You Enjoy McDonalds or Applebee's and Don't Recognize Quality Food 9/17/2008

If you are looking for only a sliver above the quality of Applebee's then this is your restaurant. Unlike the previous reviews, the service was good, but the food was sub-par. I went for Restaurant Week tonight and felt majorly ripped off. Starter: I first noticed that the dressing on the Caesar salad was clearly not homemade. The greens were good, but the dressing was bottled. The bread was also clearly frozen or reheated. The calamari had a nice grilled flavor but was chewy. The ""stuffed mushrooms"" were not stuffed at all-the mushrooms were from a can, and the appetizer was served as slop-on-a-plate, much like the filling of a Chunky's vegetable soup can. Entree: The pasta was NOT fresh, but frozen. The sauce lacking any spices; the gnocchi undercooked; the lobster ravioli overcooked and not freshly made (more like lobster-food-substance than lobster) and overall just bland. For dessert: The tiramisu was sopping wet as though it had hardly finished thawing out from a freezer-grocery-store-box. The espresso was essence-less. I left feeling bloated and over-MSG'd like I used to when I went to Applebees and TGI Fridays and completely ripped off for the quality of food at $35 a head - plenty of great restaurants at this price in Philly outside of Restaurant Week. Most places use Restaurant Week to break even and advertise the restaurant - this place seemed to use the occasion to cut back on quality and make an extra buck. Pros: Service was very nice. . and kept verbally trying to convince me how good the food was. Cons: Frozen, thawed, nothing fresh food. Overpriced. more

Nasty owner, nasty servers 7/6/2008

I usually don't mind dining at a restaurant if the food is delicious and the servers are rude. This place serves average food. It's not as good as so many claim. I order risotto (with vegetables) and it was not risotto!! I was served long grain white rice- NOT risotto. White rice is MUCH cheaper than arborio rice. So, if you order one of the two risottos listed on the menu, don't expect to get what you read. In addition, the WHITE RICE (NOT risotto) was reheated in the pan and was served to me burnt and crispy. What a horrible ""risotto""! Other diners got pollo involtino (which tasted like old chicken that had been in the microwave for too long-- in other words, really bad leftovers), penne arrabbiata (burnt penne that was reheated in a pan), and a shrimp orecchiette alla pugliese (small amounts of shrimp that were basted in frying oil). Lastly, I have to mention the bread and oil that's served before dinner is served. The oil tastes much like Canola oil-- definitely not a high quality extra virgin olive oil. Lastly, the owner and the servers have to change their attitudes and cannot treat diners like garbage, especially when they serve such garbage. Change the menu to read what you really serve (""Fake Risotto"", ""Burnt Penne Arrabbiata"", ""Frying oil Basted Shrimp Pasta""). The only good thing was about that night dining here was the wine that WE BROUGHT!\r Cons: Nasty Owner and Servers and Below Average Food more

First visit to bistro: Food is good (not great); staff's attitude is not made to order 4/18/2008

My first visit to Bistro la Baia:\r \r STAFF is curt--not necessarily rude, but could definitely use an attitude adjustment. I smiled at them incessantly and was as polite as can be, but didn't get much response.\r \r FOOD is good, but not amazing. I had lobster ravioli and my Dad had shrimp pasta, both good.\r \r ATMOSPHERE is clean, cozy, comfortable, inviting. Other diners seemed intelligent and eclectic.\r \r PRICES are amazing! Our bill for the night was $34 (two entrees and bottled water).\r \r OVERALL I would give it 3.5 stars if that were an option. I wouldn't give it a higher rating because the food was good, but not spectacular and because the customer service left me feeling cold-shouldered. However, with prices like these, I may not be able to resist a subsequent visit. Pros: awesome prices, clean environment, not too romantic for family, cozy atmosphere Cons: staff could be much friendlier, food could be tastier more

Amazing food, courteous waiter, romantic and very inexpensive! 2/22/2008

Having never been to La Baia, I read the 20+ reviews here. More than 50% of the reviews mentioned how poor the service was and how they were treated so badly, but almost 90% of the reviews admitted that the food was great! I called and scheduled a 7pm reservation to beat the rush that I read would push us out of our seat. The Maitre d' explained in a very professional manner that if this was our first time dining with La Baia, that we should know that they are cash only and a BYOB. Very important information! We arrived at 6:55pm, and were greeted and seated by our waiter, a polished Italian man in his 40?s. He offered us water while we were getting settled and presented us with menus a minute or two later when he returned with our water. He un-corked our wine and poured our glasses while he told us of the days specials. At no point were we rushed or treated any way but with respect and courtesy. The restaurant was 40% full, the food was amazing (I had a house salad and gnocchi, he had a Cesar salad and the penne with eggplant. We both RAVED about how delicious it was after each first bite. The dressing on the house salad was wonderful as is the dipping sauce for the fresh from the oven bread!) and the atmosphere was cozy and romantic. Perhaps the previous ?rude staff? has been replaced or they?ve read the reviews and lighted up, but our visit was very enjoyable and we plan to dine there again soon. Did I mention that the bill was $40? Very affordable! Worth all 5 stars! Pros: Food is incredible, very affordable, cozy Cons: city parking is tough at night more

fantastic food staff and place!! 1/30/2008

don't belive anything else you read! We went on a Wed. for restaurant week and we took our time, brought our own wine, had fantastic fresh hot food, enjoyed and warm friendly staff and will definitely go back! Pros: staff was nice, place is cozy, food is fantastic! Cons: tables near door might be cold in winter more

Terrible customer service, rude staff and does not cook food properly 3/28/2007

I have eaten at Bistro La Baia for many years and was never overly impressed with the service, although the food was good. However, my most recent experience was the worst I have had at a restaurant. Several in our party ordered the chicken special (supposed to be in red sauce but came out in a white sauce) and when we cut into it, the chicken was still raw. Our waiter and owner seemed very annoyed when I brought this to their attention and made a comment that it is hard to cook chicken. Since we had a show to make, we ordered a simple pasta dish and never did we receive an apology. They were positively rude and acted like we really bothered them by sending back uncooked chicken. I would never patronize this restaurant again and will discourage others to do the same. more

Same problem with rude staff (and owner) 3/18/2007

We went to this restaurant on a Thursday night and there was only one other table seated when we arrived. We were seated at the worst table (in front of where the waiters enter and exit) right next to the only other occupied table. The food was delicious but evidently we were taking too long (the place had started to fill up while we were there). The owner (I think) kept glaring at us and motioning to our waiter to get us out of there. He literally seated another couple at our table as we were standing up and putting on our coats. Although the food was excellent I would not go there again because such treatment is simply not acceptable in a city with so many options. Pros: Good food, reasonable prices Cons: Rude, rushed more

Rubbish! 1/18/2007

If you would have asked me a few months ago about my experiences at la baia, I would have told you it was a ""must do"" of Philadelphia. The food is good for its price and the people that I would pass my unfinished bottle of wine to at the end of my meal were always pleasant. I would dine there frequently; even a couple times a month. \r \r BUT, recently my opinion of this restaurant has completely changed. \r Not once but TWICE I have literally been pushed out the door of this restaurant. In the first instance I realize it was a saturday and turn over for the restaurant is very important. I decided to give it another chance. \r \r With friends in town, I went last night when it was completely empty and dined with the hostess and host literally standing watching me, looking at their watches, shaking their heads, and demanding that we order ""NOW!"" Cutlery was literally thrown on the table between courses, wine bottles and glasses were snatched from the table so quickly and haphazardly that the host nearly struck me in the face twice. It was quite possibly the WORST dining experience I have ever had. I felt badly eating my food.\r \r Apparently I am not alone on this. Recently at a holiday party La Baia?s down-right rude staff came up among a group of my friends; many of whom have vowed that they would never return. Despite past good experiences, I (and many others) will NEVER return to this restaurant. I have never in my life been subject to such bilious, ill natured wait staff. \r \r Go to La Viola, melogranos, or mercato ? much better food, nicer wait staff, and comparable prices. Cons: Rude wait staff. more

Authentic in Every Way 12/5/2006

I've noticed that most of the reviews seem to focus on the ""poor service"" at Bistro La Baia. In fact, reading these reviews is what made me try this place out! It's a tiny little Italian restaurant which no more than 10 tables. I found the service hilarious - Philadelphia Italian waiters are supposed to be rude, if they are ""authentic,"" that is! If you are looking for a quiet, fun spot for a date, this is the place. Leave the kids at home and enjoy some real Italian food and service. Pros: Great Ambience, Entertaining and Authentic Italian Servers Cons: Don't take credit cards more

Rudest service in Philadelphia 11/4/2006

I had a reservation at this restaurant on a saturday night with a couple friends, and they were incredibly rude. literally the worst service and rudest restaurant I've ever experienced. they were clearly overbooked the evening we were there, and were trying to push us out the door the entire time to make room for parties coming in. the waiter was terse and mean to us, and they tried to remove our plates before we were done eating, brought us a check before we requested it, in the end, told us they needed us to leave to make room for an incoming party! We'd been there less than an hour and a half, and when I kindly suggested that it was a bit rude to kick people put with reservations, one man started yelling at us, and screaming, THIS IS A BISTRO, YOU CAN'T COME SIT HERE FOR HOURS AND DRINK WINE WHEN THERE ARE PEOPLE WAITING! GET OUT! It was almost unbelieveable. The food itself was fine, but the service was so rude and atrocious I would stay away at all costs. more

Fabulous food. Average decor/setting. Good discount for La Reserve Bed & Breakfast Guests 9/24/2006

My parents stayed at La Reserve Bed & Breakfast (1804 Pine) for the weekend, and we visited Bistro La Baia twice. Guest of the B&B get 20% discount on the food. The food tasted fabulous! The atmosphere isn't fabulous, as the outdoor patio sits on 17th and Lombard, a rather unsightly and busy area. It's a BYOB, which is also great for keeping the price down. Te service is a bit stoic, but the owner is quite involved and speaks with every guest. I would recommend it, and we'll probably go back. It's an easy place to choose when you don't want to spend a fortune, but want the ""go out for dinner"" experience. Pros: Food Cons: Atmospher more

Friendly, cozy... 6/23/2006

A place where everybody knows your name... that is if you're krafty enough to get in their good graces. Reasonably priced food... love that it's BYOB... and the tiramisu really is one of the best I've ever had. more

Soooo snug 3/16/2006

I've been to many of Philly's BYOS, which are usually very small. This one seemed much more unpleaasantly crowded than any other. We were so close to out neighbors that we had to slump over and shift the table to let them move. The food was ok, but I'd go elsewhere to avoid the crush and the none-to-charming service. more

learn some manners! 2/14/2006

The food was very good for the price, however, prepare to answer to commands most pets would raise their tails at and walk away from. Upon walking into the restaurant for a romantic dinner, we were told to ""go sit over there"" with a flimsy wave of a finger. We were rushed to remove our coats and were told the specials while we were still getting seated. The chairs were unstable (leg was broken). Our water glasses were empty for 80% of the meal only to be refilled when we paid the check and were about to leave. Do try the arugala appetizer and the apple tart for dessert-they were scrumptious. Prepare to duck while people pass plates and fill the glasses at the tables NEXT to/on top of yours. To be fair, perhaps on a less busy night, the experience would have been nicer. Pros: good appetizer, value, good dessert Cons: cramped atmosphere, poor service, broken furniture more
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Menu for Bistro La Baia

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Owner Message

  • We are a Italian and Mediterranean influenced BYOB, offering our guests delicious food and gracious service at the corner of 17th St and Lombard, in the Rittenhouse area of Center City Philadelphia


  • In Short
    With so many great Italian B.Y.O.B.s popping up, La Baia could do more to win over its customers. Still, the food is of consistently solid quality. The menu is largely regional...

  • 7/6/2006 Provided by Citysearch

Additional information

  • Hours:

    Monday 09:00 AM - 10:00 PM Tuesday 09:00 AM - 10:00 PM Wednesday 09:00 AM - 10:00 PM Thursday 09:00 AM - 10:00 PM Friday 09:00 AM - 10:00 PM Saturday 09:00 AM - 10:00 PM Sunday 09:00 AM - 10:00 PM
  • Payments:

  • Neighborhoods:

    Center City, Rittenhouse Square