Walter Mencken 10:05 a.m., April 30
The Lady From Rome
Changes keep on comin’ in Little Italy.
Was at Caffe Italia the other night.
Right next door is Vincenzo’s Ristorante Italiano (1702 India Street, at Date, 619-702-6181), kinda classy black and white place I’ve always wanted to eat at.
Wanted to try their ossu bucco. I’ve seen sidewalk eaters attacking that on Friday nights. Smells beefy, winey. Problem? Little expensive for me.
But what catches my eye right now is the yellow sign in the side window.
“Public Notice of Application for Ownership Change.”
And next to it a letter.
“After almost 13 years, Vincenzo Ristorante Italiano will close its doors in January, 2012. Although an end of an era, it is also the beginning of a new one for Anthony, Gina and the Zizzo family…”
Oh no. Not another sellout to a chain franchise, please.
I go up to the two ladies at the welcome podium, Angelina and Natalie.
“It’s going to become a pizzeria,” says Angelina. “But a good one. A lady from Rome has bought it, and she’s bringing her own pizza oven over with her.”
Victoria, the third waitress, whizzes by with two steaming plates. One’s ravioli, the other’s spaghetti. Each about $15.
She places them in front of Carla (no, not my Carla) and Bill.
Carla, Bill, Victoria
“Oh no,” says Bill, when I tell them the news. “We have just moved into Little Italy. This is our favorite place. We’ve been coming here since long before we moved.”
“They have the best Riesling wine in Little Italy,” says Carla, “because it’s the coldest, and I like mine cold.”
“We often come by for their happy hour,” says Bill. “They have $5 wines and $5 appetizers. They do an excellent Caprese.”
Huh. That’s the salad from the island of Capri, basically mozzarella cheese and tomatoes with basil, right? I could handle that. Happy hour’s from three to six each afternoon.
But not for long. Maybe Vincenzo’s closing has to do Vincenzo himself, Anthony and Gina’s father, Vincenzo Zizzo. He created this place along with his wife Josephine, but he died three years ago.
Whatever, it’s sad. There goes another genuine family eatery. Even though I’ve never eaten there, Little Italy’s gonna feel a little emptier.
“We’ll close about mid-January, then the lady from Rome will take a few months setting up, probably,” says Angelina.
Still, you never know.
The lady from Rome may bring a family of her own.
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