This week’s episode of Restaurant Impossible finds Robert Irvine and the RI team in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, where Robert is called in by an owner’s daughter to help save a floundering Italian eatery, ambush-style.
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The episode, titled Ambush: Special Delivery, was taped at La Casa Bianca in Whitehouse Station, N.J., on October 14, and 15.
The Restaurant Impossible production team sent out a request for volunteers to help with the makeover on Facebook and other social media platforms on October 7. Typically, the team sends out these messages for help just a few days before the ambush.
To give you an idea of how intense these makeovers can be, here’s a look at the schedule for volunteers:
- Shift 1 – Wednesday, October 14th: 12pm to 7pm
- Shift 2 – Wednesday, October 14th: 7pm to 2am
- Shift 3 – Thursday, October 15th: 10am to 6pm
For this episode, Paul Liscio’s daughter Megan reached out to Robert for help after noticing the eatery was floundering and her father was losing his passion for the business. Robert’s mission: reignite Paul’s inner fire and get him back in the game.
For some background, the Chew Boom crew checked out a variety of customer reviews and other published material on La Casa Bianca’s reputation and history. Overall, the restaurant appears to have a pretty good reputation. For example, in 2008, La Casa Bianca was among the best places for pizza in New Jersey, according to NJ Monthly.
We also found an item of interest from 2012, when Paul Liscio was featured in NJ.com for a sandwich-board-type sign about a foot-and-a-half wide and 3-feet tall that he placed in front of his eatery. It read: “Eat Here or We’ll Both Starve.”
At the time, Liscio said the sign became a kind of catalyst for both positive and negative comments. But Liscio’s sign was just honest commentary on the restaurant’s dire financial situation. Liscio credits the sign with attracting between 30 to 50 new customers a week.
Pre and post-makeover reviews for La Casa Bianca are mixed, but mostly positive. The food really doesn’t appear to be the biggest reason for the restaurant’s troubles. Here’s and example of a few positive reviews since the makeover:
- Trip Advisor review on Dec. 11: La casa bianca’s decor was recently refreshed. Nicely done though the chairs are a bit uncomfortable. Not sure what others changes were made as I visited for a holiday party of 25 people and our menu was fixed. But the food that was served was excellent. As always, you can’t be in a rush, as food is freshly made upon placing order.
- Yelp review on November 7: We’ve lived only 15 minutes from this place, but yet never tried the food here. We had a late lunch with the family. What a great experience. Food was fantastic, especially the calamari! Service was well paced. We’ll definitely come back.
- Yelp Review on October 16: This place is amazing. Good quality Italian food for a reasonable price. Perfect for a date night. Their pizza is great and their pasta is amazing. Sometimes they have chicken piccata as a special which is also fantastic. I recently moved away and can’t wait to eat here when I’m home visiting!
On the negative end of the scale, we were able to find a couple of negative reviews post makeover, but again, for the most part, the food rated fairly good despite the overall negative ratings.
- Trip Advisor review late November: We live near La Casa Bianca and heard that it was recently on an episode of Restaurant Impossible. We decided to check it out.. The chairs were metal and quite chilly. The room itself was cold and we ate wearing our coats. Hubby’s dish came with a salad and they brought a salad for me, complimentary. Nice touch.
- Trip Advisor review November 7: Over rated – poor service and way overpriced. My husband’s dish was inedible and my dish was average. The waitress was uninterested, at best. Sad, I had thought that the Food Network would have helped this place.
Other items of Interest
Here’s the restaurant’s website, which could use a bit of help from the Restaurant Impossible team. You can also check out La Casa Bianca’s Facebook page, but you won’t see much, it hasn’t had a post in several months.
Tom Bury, the construction manager posted the following image on Instagram during some down time while taping the La Casa Bianca makeover.
Day two of this #restaurantimpossible #ambush ! WE ARE IN NJ! Renovating La Casa Bianca in white house station nj! Yesterday started off VERY slow but We had some amazing help from great friends and some @instanjit students! This morning started off with a great sunrise , I hope the rest of the day is this nice! Here we go!!!
Ended this season just like we started the show in NEW JERSEY! This new season is by far the best ever so tune in next week to watch it on @foodnetwork ! I want to thank @chefirvine and my amazing D9 crew! Also want to thank my best friend and business partner Angelo for making the show possible and making me look like I can do it all! And of course my beautiful wife @ehilgedickbury for always making me look good! I feel so blessed to have been able to work with so many amazing people and also help so many deserving restaurants! Hopefully we will continue on with the show and help many more families!
A photo posted by Tom Bury (@tombury1) on
Here’s a video of Chef Paul Liscio, owner and head Chef at La Casa Bianca hosting a cooking show for the local Italian-American Club.