I love this fucking city. I’m sorry to start with such vulgarity but it needs to be where it lies. I truly do! I will not lie in say that over the past several days I have not had my mojo in any sense. Some days you have it, some days you don’t…it’s just that hit or miss mantra that makes it mojo and not a more constant fiber of life. Like intelligence for instance.
There are roughly 9 million people that live with in the New York City lines. There are over 30,000 restaurants for those few people to choose from on a nightly basis. So why am I so lucky that a rep that I’ve never met before tonight could happen to pick an establishment that would reaffirm my love for this city? Ms. Manhattan as I refer to her at times is like so many great loves…she is so good at being at her best at the exact moment you've counted her out.
Tonight I traveled, from work, with coworkers I would not usually associate with outside of a working environment to a little slice of tiramisu heaven. Again there are a ton of these network dinners, mostly stagnant of realness and usually good food too. Both are things I try to avoid at all cost. However tonight would be a different setting, a different breakdown all together, and one that would make me feel right at home at a table set for 9 million.
After a long walk and a few stops we finally made our way to the final destination and resting place of the evening. The ride downtown had been filled with “this place is amazing, this place is such a great restaurant” that I was starting to wonder if it would be able to hold a candle opera to my former restaurant back in Arizona. (I worked for great man, at a great place for two years while in school)
Dinner, as it should, started with drinks and everything but the kitchen sink for appetizers. There was lightly battered calamari, baked clams, butter-flied shrimp and an antipasto to write home about covering all corners of the table. I was, to what I hope was no coincidence, sitting at the head of the table. A table that was 16 deep and on the average seat, 7 years my senior. The placement of everything that made this meal…was perfect.
The apps were great, the wine was ok, and the conversation was deep without being politically or corporately charged full of opinions. The night was only soon to reach its climax though. It was not the desert or the after dinner drinks, although the number of them should have won out completely, that made a mark in my mind and heart.
The owner, who seemed to be best of and long time friend with our host, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who grew up Italian was where the best treat of the night would come from tonight.
The reason, and I can literally say this with an honest face (or set of hands) that I ended up living, loving, and landing New York City was Franco. I was lucky enough to meet Franco, a man 40 plus years my senior and a spirit that was mine on a highest of Starbucks highs. I worked for him and instantly fell in love with his passion and drive. An Italian immigrant who had owned multiple places in New York with a clientele that rendered such names as Sinatra and Cosby. This guy’s mission and taste for life, and even more so, the life of New York was what ultimately made me make New York my permanent residence and not just a rest stop.
So, as I shared a cocktail with the owner of this great place in the West Village, I thought I should throw out the name. Why not right? What do I have to lose? “Yes, I know Franco, he used to live next door. He’s in Arizona now. How do you know my friend?” I couldn't believe the words were coming out of his mouth. Well, as long as the day is beautiful in Florence, I hit the gnocchi on the head!
That answer, that comment made a city of 9 million, as small and simple as a bottle of Brunello, shared with three old friends. I know I am being melodramatic…but it’s those interconnections that make a city that holds its heart so closely protected…shine for all who are wiling to see…
It made my night, it made my week, and it made me feel at home…it truly did…
Thanks for listening