Da Luca Wine Bar opened in Old Trail some time ago, but my husband and I had not yet tried it out. Until tonight. The food was actually quite good, but the service was so bad I don't think we'll be going back anytime soon.

A woman seated us when we arrived a little before 7pm, and she also told us the specials and took our drink order. She said happy hour had just ended, but it was ladies night so I could get a particular glass of red or white wine for $5. So I tried the red. She said our waiter would be around soon.

But he was not, so she took our food order when she came back with our drinks. I had also requested a glass of water at that time, but never received one. Eventually, after failing to get our waiter's attention after our third tapas course or so, I finally asked the guy who brought out the food (I think it was the bartender) if he could get me a glass of water. He did bring it quickly at that point. He also got me another glass of wine as soon as I requested it.

It was already 8pm when we decided we'd like another two tapas dishes, and had our order slip waiting on the table. But no one came over to take our order. We told the sitter we thought we'd be back around 8:30pm, so I asked my husband if we should just skip it, but he said we had time.

It took them a really long time to take our next order, I had already finished my glass of wine before the food finally arrived, and I had been nursing it. We didn't wind up getting out of there until 9pm. AND they charged us $7 for each glass of wine instead of $5 like the first woman said they were.

My husband declined to bring this up with the waiter, since we were already running late we didn't want to sit around waiting for the waiter to try to fix this. He wasn't a very good waiter-- he seemed good-natured and was attentive when he had time to visit our table, but the management had him covering the entire restaurant (apparently with the help of hostess and bartender) and it was just too many tables for him to handle. A waiter with 5+ years of experience could have handled the place, but this guy didn't seem that experienced. At any rate, I blame management for under-staffing the place, not the waiter for being unable to keep up. Having worked as a waitress for several years in the past, I deem myself capable of making this distinction.

My husband said he'd leave $4 off the tip to make up for being overcharged for the wine, but I doubt he actually did that. Whatever-- because of their poor service, Da Luca already cost us an extra $5+ in babysitting fees, bringing their total overcharge to almost $10. Which was more than 10% of the bill.

The wine and the food were good. I forget the name of the wine, but I thought it was a really good $5 wine (and about what I'd expect from a $7 wine, as it turned out to be). We tried some potato gnocchi with gorgonzola, baked goat cheese with grapes, nuts, and field greens, Moroccan tuna, beef carpaccio, eggplant ravioli with carbonara sauce, and some dish that was a variation on shrimp quesadilla. I've got no complaints with the food; it was all delicious and seemed to be brought to the table expeditiously once it was prepared. It just took a long time between plates either because the waiter didn't relay our order efficiently, or the kitchen was slow, or they just presume no one is in a hurry.

Bottom Line: The wine and food at Da Luca is very good, so if you accept the atrocious service that is unfortunately the usual state of things here in the Charlottesville area, then by all means give it a try. If the poor restaurant service typical to our area drives you crazy, you won't find a respite from the madness here.