Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The majority of Italian restaurants I’ve visited in America have been embellished affairs, with flowers, soft music and reprints of semi-famous paintings adorning the walls. The atmosphere in these restaurants usually consists of every non-table surface being covered with darkly tinted wine bottles and baskets of pasta, tomatoes and garlic. This, however, is not the experience of dining had by most diners in Italy itself. Most Italian trattoria are not nearly this ostentatious, focusing on quality food and value rather than pomp and scenery. Gloria’s Little Italy follows this philosophy, a breath of fresh air in a market drowning in fake Italian music and too many lobster dishes.
Gloria’s is an unassuming, metal-chair-and-plastic-tablecloth kind of establishment. The restaurant, tucked cozily to the side of the kitchen and market section of the store, is lined with shelves holding a wide variety of purchasable imported European goods. The dining room is abuzz with busy staff and regular customers, some holding hushed conversations, some bantering back and forth in both Italian and English.
Upon seating, I asked the waitress (who had neither a Sicilian accent nor a name ending in –a) to suggest a dish for a first-timer. She steered me toward the pesto pasta, a house specialty. While waiting for my entrée, I was treated to a small salad and a few slices of bread. The salad was quite good, with a variety of unusual but tasty lettuces lightly sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The tomatoes, sadly, were rather tasteless and spongy, not unusual considering our location and season. The bread, drizzled with olive oil was warm and inviting, with an unanticipated but satisfying saltiness.
The pesto dish lived up to its billing. Penne pasta, tossed in copious amounts of olive oil-laden pesto sauce, was delightfully smooth and simple. The individual flavors of basil, olive and pine nuts, like harmonies in beautiful music, had been respectfully blended to create a balanced accord bringing out the highlights of each ingredient. The result was eminently rewarding.
The menu at Gloria’s consists almost exclusively of pastas and calzones, ranging in price from $7 - $14. There were select few antipasti or appetizers, one of which, amusingly, is the most expensive item available. There is a range of desserts available: distinctive cakes, flaky pastries and luscious gelato make their appearances, each with unpredictable and varying options. The servings are generous (especially the slices of cake) and the service hurried but friendly. Reservations are suggested for groups and on weekends.
Dining at Gloria’s Little Italy is a great experience. If you’re looking for fancy china, all-you-can eat breadsticks or expensive seafood, you may be better served elsewhere. However, if you want an Italian experience reminiscent of your favorite corner Italian restaurant in Europe, look no further. Gloria’s has the atmosphere, the ingredients and the personality to transport you right back to the outskirts of Florence, Milan or Rome.
Gloria’s Little Italy
279 E. 300 S.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Do we put such persons on a pedestal, to learn from and idolize? Certainly not. Wishing or seeking for misfortune will only land is in bad situations without the natural processes that lead to the painful yet beautiful trial.
Do we pity them, for the mental anguish and their lack of whatever-it-be that causes their unhappy situation. We cannot. To pity is to make an even deeper mockery of the solemn life of the tried. We often reveal only our own glaring pride and ignorance by pitying the suffering.
How then, do we approach the weirdos, those people that make us squirm and take another path? How do we treat the over-friendly nerd in our class, the girl whose vocabulary is mostly the term "like"? How can we interact with the smelly, the socially awkward, the un-cool? Only with respect. We can give them the deepest respect for fighting through something we may never fight, facing disappointments that we cannot even fathom. It is a personal charge they (we?) face, the moment of self-realization when our weaknesses shine through and our precious self-deception disappears. Let us recognize these as fellow-beings and admire their courageous struggle, offering a hand of friendship and acceptance.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Things have been good. I've been surviving the post-europe letdown fairly well. Christmas break was good, it involved a fair amount of working which was probably a good thing, preventing me from going completely and totally insane. I am absolutely pumped for school to start, I have enough cool classes to make me run around like a giddy schoolgirl. Schoolboy, perhaps? Martin and I have an independent study class that will be great. Why, you ask? Here's a taste: Tomorrow we get together to eat, talk and prepare a syllabus to present to our teacher.
How often does one make one's own syllabus?
That class is on Kierkegaard. Other good classes involve Nietschze, German, French Theology (focusing on Jean-Luc Marion and some other dud who's name escapes me currently) and "writing about food". Writing about food should be cool. Class will often involve tastings and restaurant visits. Not bad...
Well, that's it for now. I'll write more next time I'm up too late and feel postish.