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The Boston Globe

Food & dining

dining out

Greatest hits of Italian classics served in South End trattoria

I could hardly believe my ears. It was a Saturday night, sure, but not even 7:30, and the restaurant wasn’t full. Still, I was straining to hear anybody who wasn’t sitting right next to me at our table of seven. And I wasn’t the only one. The poor server, trying to take an order from across the table, bent down to hear and banged her head on the industrial-style lighting.

The night at Cinquecento, the new Harrison Avenue “Roman trattoria” from the Aquitaine Group that’s named after its street number, 500, as well as the beloved little Fiat 500, wasn’t beginning well for anyone. Though five of us were there exactly on time, the host declined to seat us until everyone arrived. Yes, quite a few restaurants around town do this. (At least they didn’t make me leave a credit card number when I book a large table, as some places do; you know who you are.) What could a restaurant possibly lose by letting diners sit at the table they’ve reserved?

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