A NEW ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Some people enjoy going to the same place over and over: the joys of being greeted by familiar staff, the comfort of knowing that the food is good and won’t make you sick, and the feeling of being at home in a familiar spot.
Others enjoy trying new places; new adventures, new discoveries and new preparations of familiar dishes.
The problem comes when those two opposite types are married to each other!
“Oh no: not that place again again; we were just there!. Let’s try the new one that just opened in Mendham last week.”
My victory. Of sorts. Yes, I won the argument about where to go for dinner, but lost the one about discovering a new favorite restaurant.
We found parking right across the street from the New Place ( names protected to save embarrassment!). It looked clean. It looked well lit . It looked practically empty.
The almost empty factor was because this new restaurant had the only three tables! No wonder when people called for reservations they were told that there were none available.
If MacDonald’s never had a table available, word might get around that MacDonald’s was a desirable, hard-to get into restaurant, so popular that it rarely had a free table. “That must be quite a special place,” people would think, and keep trying to get reservations.
When we called it was early and we were able to reserve a table, but when we were seated we heard the phone ring several times and the caller being told, “Sorry, but we have no openings tonight!” Word had gotten around that there was a new restaurant in Mendham. Exciting news in peaceful, bucolic Mendham!
This was a family affair. The waitress told us that “My Dad owns the restaurant, my mom cooks the food, and my sister and I wait tables.”
How charming; home-cooked dinners with loving family members involved in the success of this restaurant.
But then an uncomfortable memory appeared in my mind from many years ago, and the question “Does “home made” always mean “wonderful?” re-emerged.
One of the funniest memories I have was the one of my husband’s and my reunion with his brother-at their parents’ house in Passaic, New Jersey. We were both visiting from different places where we had settled. Brother In Law from Massachusetts and we from Baltimore. Mother-In-Law said,”I’ll make dinner for you tonight,” and spontaneously, without planning it, the three of us screeched out in a high pitched, panicky choir, as if our lives were on the line,“NO!”
So here we were, years later, seated at one of the three tables, waited on by one of the two sister wait staff.
I could never be a restaurant reviewer, because I would hesitate to make negative comments about someone’s hard working, family venture. But when friends ask what we thought of the new restaurant, I will recall the advice of Thumper the rabbit in Walt Disney’s “Bambi” film. Thumper said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
And so I remain silent.