My first bite galvanized my choice. Steak – steak sandwich please, with mushrooms. I love steak. And I am picky. Since I have to be careful with what I eat these days, I have to be sure that when I eat something – it HAS to be good. Otherwise, what is the point in wasting my taste buds?
Seriously, though, it wasn’t just the steak sandwich that made my day. Food is good, but friends are more compelling. Ben and I walked into IRagazzi Restaurant this afternoon to support our friends who had just opened up their new restaurant in Barrie. Of course we had to. This was a family who had worked hard together at something that was going to be a legacy for their children: the three boys. David had played volleyball with the oldest boy this past season and it was through that sport that we had met the family. Even in the fall, they had been working hard planning the opening of IRagzzi. It takes a lot of work to begin something this grand. Ben and I approached the restaurant with great hopes that all was running smoothly. I pushed open the door and there, in front of me, was a beautiful “Carrie” grinning from ear to ear. “Oh, I ‘m so happy to see you, Stacey! May I give you a hug?”
Her excitement was palpable. It was contagious. It was, as always, infectious. And then, the boys… greeted us warmly with big smiles. It was clear they too were proud of their new restaurant – their legacy. The youngest was most eager to sample every type of ice-cream in the house. It was another day of new beginnings, of anticipation, of hope. And it made my heart sing once again.
“What shall I order, Marcello? What would you recommend?”
“The steak sandwich.”
“Then – that’s what I’ll have. Rare, please.”
And, grinning like a cheshire cat, he was off to the races. I could sense the pride he took in his product. He was confident. He knew his sandwich was going to be amazing – and something that he would serve with pride to guests in his own home. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to serve a good meal to your guests. I love cooking. I get it. I love when people enjoy my cooking. Marcello had spared no expense. All the equipment sparkled. It was brand new – it was being christened. Thrilling. Everything was crisp and clean. The uniforms were perfect. The ingredients were laid so perfectly, linearly and lovingly. Honestly, no piece of the restaurant experience escaped Marcello’s keen eye. It had to be perfect – or it was not to happen.
Within minutes, Ben and I were drooling over the aroma of our sandwiches. We took them to go. With a hug and best wishes – we left, although we didn’t get far as the bench around the corner called our name. We unwrapped our lunches and took a bite.
“Oh, my God, Ben. That’s good!” I exclaimed.
“My is delicious, too , Mom”, verified Ben.
We ate in silence – well – at least no words. We had lots of oohs and ahhs as one does when consuming something utterly delicious, but no words. I ate the whole thing. I never do that. Ben didn’t even get half of my sandwich – which he usually does. They were gone.
“What did you think?” I asked Ben as we got up to get back into the car.
“I think I’m going to need to go back. The meatballs spoke for themselves. They tasted exactly as I wanted them to taste and how I expected them to taste.”
“Yeah. I get that. My steak was like a gourmet meal on a bun. And even the bun was good. I don’t eat bread. But I ate the whole thing.”
Was it the food that we loved so much? Or was it the people? It is tough to decide. What makes a meal so good? What makes a meal so memorable? It was a steak sandwich. But it is a steak sandwich I’ll never forget. And I am not embarrassed to admit that. That day, on the bench, with my son, supporting our friends… is forever etched in my mind. New beginnings, family unity, great food. I hope these three things are IRagazzi’s recipe for success. I trust they will be.
This one is, “for the boys”.