Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Carlo! Carlo!

"Jerry: Who's Cartwright?
George: I'm Cartwright!
Jerry: You're not Cartwri-
George: Of course I'm not Cartwright!"
From "The Chinese Restaurant"
The Jerry Seinfeld Show

 My maiden name was quite ethnic, and people were always misspelling it or mispronouncing it. I thought that when I married someone with an English last name, those days were far behind me.  HA!  There are people (Americans included) who cannot spell or pronounce "Cutler" correctly.  I can understand that foreigners (except Brits, Aussies, Irish, and the other residents of GB) might have a difficult time. I really do.

For some reason, Mike and I have had at least two "Seinfeld-esque" episodes with our last name. The first happened at a restaurant in Nashville, and it mirrored the Seinfeld Chinese scene almost to a "T," the only difference being the name.  The second instance was tonight.

Back story: Last night, Mike and I walked around looking for a place to eat and happened upon a little place stuck in the back of a tiny courtyard.  We didn't have reservations, but since we got there just as they opened for dinner (7pm), we got a seat.  We were lucky as people kept coming up and trying to get in. The obvious reason is that the food is wonderful, and the service is great.  The owner, Salvatore Di Leo (photo below), is personable and helpful.

 We ordered "country soup" (basically a vegetable soup), ravioli with walnut sauce, and pasta carbonara. They were all very good, although Mike said he wouldn't order that pasta again because it was too dry.  The best thing, we agreed, was the soup.  It was so good, as a matter of fact, that we decided we were going to go back tonight just for the soup.

"Salvatore," I said when he delivered our main meal, "we want reservations for tomorrow."

"Eat. Enjoy," he told me. "We'll make them before you leave."  We did all three, and as we were paying, he brought out his huge reservation booklet.  "What is your name?"

"Cutler," I replied. He looked at me with such a puzzled expression.  "Coot-lair," I said trying to Italianize it.  He shook his head. 

I took out a business card and handed it to him.  "My name," I pointed out.

"Ah, yes," he said as he wrote.  "Where you staying?"  When I mentioned we were in an apartment, he wrote something else down.  "See you at 19:00."

 We arrived a few minutes before 7:00, and we saw that the table we'd had last night had a "reserved" sign on it.  I picked it up.

"This isn't our table," I said to Mike.  "It's for a Carlo." (Photo at top)  Personally, I was a little happy because some bug had decided to have dinner on my arm last night while we were eating, and I didn't want him coming back for seconds.

"That's all right," Mike answered. "He probably is giving us one of these other tables." There were only two other two-tops available.  At that point, Salvatore walked out and saw us.

"Welcome back, my friends," he greeted us. "Sit there.  You want the same table."

"This is not our table," I replied.

"Yes, it is yours," he insisted. "Carlo."

"No, remember us from last night?"

"Yes. Yes.  Carlo. I remember," he kept insisting. "Carlo.  That is your table. You want the same one as last night, right?"

 "Ok. Yes. Thank you," I answered.  To Mike, I added, "I guess we are sitting here."

"I'm not Carlo," Mike whispered to me.  I rolled my eyes.

"Of course you're not Carlo," I said.  "He got our name wrong somehow."

"How did he do that? You showed him your business card."

 "Cartwright.  Cartwright." I said, and we both laughed.  "Nobody came. I tell her you not here, she say bad word. I hang up."  I was laughing, and Salvatore was looking at me from the door.  I'm sure he thought I was a little pazza. "That's my favorite episode," I added.
"I wasn't wild about it," Mike said.  Of course not.

 At any rate, we shared another bowl of the country soup (above), a caprese salad (right), and grilled chicken (left).  Once again, the soup was wonderful, and we enjoyed having just the caprese and chicken. While you can't tell by looking at the chicken, but it was quite thin which is typical in Italy. 

"If we were in town tomorrow, I'd come back for this soup again," I said to Mike as we finished it.

"Maybe we can get him to give us a 'to-go' bag of soup," he replied.

"Salvatore," I said to Mike, "can you vacuum pack this for us so we can take it on the train? Carlo and I love your soup."

We were laughing again when an Australian couple got up from their table and walked by us.

"Weren't you here last night?" the lady asked me.

"We were," Mike answered.

"Weren't *you* here last night?" I asked them.

"We were, too," the man replied.  "If they were open tomorrow, we'd come back tomorrow."  They had also happened on the restaurant by accident and, liking their food, decided to come back for a sure thing.  "What did you have both nights?"  I told him and asked what they'd had.  "I had wild boar last night and rabbit tonight.

"You'd never get my wife to try rabbit," Mike interjected.

"It tastes something like chicken," the man said.

"Yes, there are tiny bones," the woman added.

"The bones wouldn't be the problem," Mike advised.  "My wife would not eat a little bunny."  Because I was in polite company, I didn't do my gag routine, but I sure was thinking it.

Throughout our entire meal, people walked up to the restaurant sign and then asked if they could sit. Most of the time, Salvatore had to turn them away because the restaurant was full. In case you are unaware of the Italian dining custom, eating is a time to enjoy life, food, friends, family. One never discusses business over dinner, nor does he/she hurry.  A restaurant in Italy will never throw you out, even if you sit for four hours.

We left, though, because we needed to pack for tomorrow's trip to Genova and because I needed to write a bit.  More importantly, we needed to stop and get a little gelato on the way home (left).

It was as good as it looks, too.

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