It took two buses and two trains, but James and I traveled to New York’s edge for pasta last night. It was a courtship mission, with a scrawny little wuss (me) trying to woo brawny old-school Italy (Don Peppe) into granting an extended date. The goal is to get me and a photographer into the kitchen for three to four hours, capturing all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a living, breathing restaurant-in-motion.
It’s my first assignment for the print magazine and it’s nerve-wracking. 1500 words, a cover story. I told James that when I first approach restaurant owners and chefs, I blush. I’m afraid they’ll say “Quick, what’s the difference between spaghettini and spaghettoni? Go home, fraud!”
Last night was no exception. I found the owner at a corner table, holding court with a tan middle-aged couple, bedecked in gold. “Excuse me mister don peppe sir, if it’s not too much bother (voice crack)…”
Whatever, I’ll get over it. Soon I’ll truly possess the bluffed confidence I muster for each of these panicky moments. No worries- I’ll transition real quick into a bona fide self-important a**hole, faster than you can say “paid critic.”
The conclusion of this tale is yes, they will let me in their kitchen; yes, we got a free bottle of wine (Waiter: Compliments of the owner…); and yes, James heard a guy puke in the bathroom, then watched him come out and chow his pasta again.