Last night my husband and I ate dinner at a hole in the wall Italian restaurant in town. We hadn’t been there in 10 years, but thanks to a $25 gift certificate, we were back. To get into the dining area you first had to walk past a long, narrow, brightly lit pizza kitchen where the loud and jovial official welcome team was busy making fragrant pies for delivery.
The sit-down restaurant section around the corner was by contrast tiny, dark, subdued and crowded with a 1/4 of the space taken over by an oddly obtrusive bar. A tanned, middle-aged guy dressed like a fisherman was deep in conversation at the shadowy, far end of the counter with a woman I doubted was his wife. I felt sorry for the lonely bar-tender who busied himself wiping out glasses and dusting row upon row of bottles. Next to the bar was a little area reserved for the crooner, a white haired man in a Hawaiian shirt singing Sinatra into a microphone using an i-pad to control his back-up music. (Years ago, he played a keyboard.)
Our elderly waitress may possibly have been the singer’s wife. She was sweet but frail, so we didn’t have the heart to ask twice for the lemon and extra dressing she forgot. When my husband requested rolls, we got two in a basket..when he asked for more a short time later- we got one. By then we were deep under this nonna’s spell, and like kids at grandma’s we just sat up straight and said thank-you for whatever she felt like serving.
The food was somewhere between good and not good, but in a weird way, that just made sense. As we were nearing the end of our meal, the crooner broke into “New York, New York” and the place erupted in pent-up applause. Like the grand finalé at a July 4th celebration when the song was over, we figured it was time to go.
We plan to go back..in ten years.