Back in the old neighborhood (when I was married) there was a local pizzeria. My wife always encouraged patronizing local businesses, so one day we stopped in.
The owners, Tony and Maria Dragonetti had moved from the Sorrento region in Italy, to New York, and eventually to Arizona. Then, they opened this tiny restaurant.
Tony knew enough English to get by, and run a business. Maria never really learned English. They both did the cooking and baking.
The entire restaurant was both funny and endearing. There were Italian and American Flags everywhere, and pictures of the Pope and the President on wall behind the counter.
And the food was inexpensive, plentiful and delicious.
And, even though I had never lived in an Italian neighborhood (this area is predominantly Latino and Korean) this place was just how I would have imagined it.
The three of us had our first meal there, a pepperoni pizza-Neapolitan style, and some sodas. The pizza was at least 16 inches wide, and incredible. I think the bill was under $9.00! (in 1986).
My daughter and I stopped by, one afternoon, just to say hello, and get sodas. Tony insisted she take a homemade cookie, or we couldn’t leave.
And, we tried to come back every
two, three weeks at least once a month. We didn’t have much money then.
One time, perhaps two months had elapsed, and we showed up. Tony yells at me, “Hey, where you been? Why haven’t you come in?” I explained, reluctantly, that we didn’t have much money. Tony says,”Come by anyway, we feed you!”
Saturday night’s were always special. Here’s this tiny restaurant, with maybe 10 tables, packed to the gills with Latinos, Koreans, Italians…all kind of folk. And food is pouring out of the kitchen, as fast as they can make it.
And there’s an Italian guy in the back, playing an accordion and singing!
Sadly, Maria’s mother in NY became ill, and the family felt it necessary to take her back to Sorrento. So, they sold the restaurant to a couple yuppies (with the secret recipes!).
But, it didn’t fly, no more incredible pizza, no flags, no accordion.
I guess the yuppies forgot to add the other ingredients, personality and love.