We have a favorite restaurant where they make great food and the staff is entertaining as all get-out.
The first time we ate there it was lunch time. An old Italian waiter answered our questions with a curt nod. “May we sit by the window?” (nod). “Is the bathroom this way?” (nod). I thought maybe I’d offended him.
When we sat down, he grabbed my plate, poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the middle of it, swizzled a piece of bread in the mix and handed it to me. I don’t normally like to take my culinary instructions so directly but I have to admit that it was good.
“May we have some more bread?” I asked. He nodded again.
The menu was in Italian and I wasn’t sure what I was ordering, so I pointed to an item and asked the guy, “How do you say this in English?” He actually answered with real syllables, although I didn’t understand at first.
“We call it biscetti,” he said somberly.
Ah, like what the little kids say when they can’t pronounce spaghetti.
I looked at him and saw the corners of his mouth twitch upward and I realized the old padrino had been messing with me from start. He was like Don Corleone, only funny. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be mad, but the food was so good I couldn’t refuse and I settled for stuffing my face.
The next time we went, we had a theatrical young waiter who was delighted to seat us. Sylvia ordered some wine which he said was an excellent choice. I might add that he was equally impressed when I ordered a diet coke.
Sylvia ordered the seafood they had on special for the evening but I didn’t want anything so fancy. Red snapper or clams or squid—it all tastes like oily overpriced fish sticks to me. I looked around and noticed how sophisticated the dinner crowd looked—well dressed, sipping wine, ordering from the menu in the authentic language. I felt like a country bumpkin but I reminded myself that I was a grown up so I sat up straight, and proclaimed, “I’ll have the biscetti—I mean the spaghetti. And another diet coke.”
The waiter slapped his notebook shut, beamed at me in admiration and said, “I LIKE it!” And then looked around the room as if to say, “At last, we have a REAL man among us!”
I ducked my head modestly and said, “Thank you. It’s always been one of my more successful orders.”
Again, the food was great. Near the end of the meal the waiter waved his hands and practically sang us an aria about cheesecake and pistachios. I was so full all I could do was give a curt nod like our godfather waiter. But we had espresso with dessert, and it was so strong and delicious that by the time we left, I was waving my arms and singing opera, too.
I can’t wait to go back so we can try a different dish and see who else is performing.