I'm not going to mention the name or give enough clues for you to find it, because you are my friends and do not need to suffer. And PT Barnum was right - even bad publicity is good publicity.
Lunchtime I fired up the GPS and told it to find me an Italian restaurant convenient to work. It did. It pointed me at a place I have passed by many times, but have never gone to eat. Part of the reason is it always looked like it was closed, looking from the street. But the neon "Open" sign was on, so I went in.
The place seats about 100. There was only one table occupied, just four random guys who looked like they worked for a moving company. Pretty dark inside. I was seated by a middle-aged man who looked like he was cut out of the "maitre d'" page in the dictionary. He took my drink order (diet Coke) and gave me a shabby plastic-coated menu and an elegant leather-bound wine list. He brought the drink in a few minutes, along with some bread (generic white baguette, stale on the ends), olive oil and butter.
Lots to choose from on the menu, but due to my recent dental work I chose something soft - the pasta combination plate. When I ordered, Mr. D' had no idea what I was talking about. His English is apparently limited, and he doesn't know the menu. He was rescued by a young man in T-shirt and jeans who knew exactly what I was asking for, with all the variables (meatball or sausage, soup or salad). Young man is a Native Speaker, and appears to be local.
I ordered salad. Mr. D' handed me a plate, and said "salad bar" pointing to the cart parked a few feet to my left. Pretty skimpy pickings - iceberg lettuce bits, red onions, mushrooms, grey liquid with garbanzo beans hidden at the bottom, diced pineapple (WTF?), and several barely recognizable dressings.
Service was pretty fast, I'd only read a couple of pages of jaylake
's Rocket Science
before the alleged food arrived.
Mr. D' placed a plate in front of me which was a submariner's dream, assuming said submariner operated in a sea of tomato sauce. Whatever was on the large dinner plate was completely hidden by what turned out to be two inches of marinara sauce. Vegetarian. Underneath was some spaghetti, some lasagna and some ravioli. All the pasta was soggy and bland. The sausage was mostly filler. The sauce tasted like ketchup with microwaved tomato bits.
It didn't help that O Solo Mio
was making its third assault on the speaker system.
During my 40-minute stay, two more
customers arrived. One of them stayed for lunch. He was still on the bread course when I left, too soon to know if he had to call 911.