Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Night In Little Italy

Going out to eat was always an adventure. Some of the best memories I have from childhood are of restaurants. But I still can experience the delight in dining away from home (or a fast food outlet) when I go to a real sit down establishment.Well, not too long ago, I had to go help my Mom and while doing that we decided to go with my aunt to an Italian place downtown, for dinner. We drove in my aunt's car and it was dark out so I enjoyed seeing the lights and buildings of the city. Our Little Italy is full of places to eat and the restaurant we went to that night has been there since the 1950s. It gets very busy, even during the week, but when we arrived it didn't look too crowded. You can tell because when it gets busy there is a line out the door. The parking lot is small and narrow and you sometimes have to wait to find someone else pulling out before you can park. So after we finally did get a spot and parked and walked back to the entrance, the queue was already to the front door!

The entrance door opens to a wall and then turns the corner down a narrow space filled with items to purchase, things like olive oil and tomato sauce and then on the right side is a deli counter. It gets very crowded as the line of people waiting to be seated gets longer and longer, with everyone jostling for position, and groups of people that are together tend to spread out, instead of staying single file (so they can chat while waiting) and it becomes nearly impossible to get by into the dining area itself. If you are right at the door itself, you cannot see around the corner. I stayed there because my aunt disappeared, announcing she was going to "see what she could do" about getting us a table. She didn't want to wait, you see. Time passed and then my Mom decided to check and also then disappeared around the corner. More and more people began to arrive. I wondered if I should hold a spot in line, but no sooner had I that thought when I suddenly heard my name being called. It was Mom and I pushed my way through the crowd and saw her waving her arms, motioning for me to come along. I did so, as best I could.

When I made it to where she stood a waitress was all of a sudden there and my aunt appeared and we were lead to a table. It faced the street window and I could look out at people passing on the sidewalk. It was a pleasant evening, but I felt like we had cut ahead in line, as many of the people that were still waiting in line had arrived there before we had. It reminded me of the scene from Goodfellas when Henry and Karen go into the restaurant through the kitchen and get seated right away. I asked my aunt how she had pulled it off (I knew it wasn't money, she is too careful with a dollar, so she hadn't greased anyone's palm) but she wouldn't reveal her secret. Maybe she was just bolder than everyone else, so she got what she wanted. There is a lesson there, I think.

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