Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | June 26, 2011

They Say You Can’t Go Home Again. But we did. And it was delicious!

This past weekend we spent time roaming around our old neighborhood in Manhattan.  We’ve been back before, but not for a number of years.

Block after block, we hardly recognized a single store or restaurant.  OK, so it’s been 30 years, but still, it would seem that something would look slightly familiar. Finally we reached our old block, 79th Street and First Avenue.  I anticipated much of the same – – lots of unfamiliar businesses. Remarkably, the diner was still there, and the pizza place, and even the green grocer.  All on one block. Pretty amazing, after little familiarity in the general neighborhood.  And, there was our old apartment building, looking none the worse for wear.

After walking 150 blocks the night before, followed by a lengthy early morning walk, who could resist an early morning slice of pizza from our old pizza haunt? I know I surprised my husband with my suggestion, since I had certainly surprised myself!

I entered the store with trepidation,  half expecting to be disappointed.  Was it really the same pizza place or another one occupying the space? How much had changed? Would the pizza jog my taste buds or disappoint? We’d eaten there nearly once a week while living in the neighborhood.

The restaurant had been pleasantly updated, much-needed 30 years ago.  It was pretty much of a dive back then. Initially I thought it might be under new management.  However, immediately my husband recognized the owner. Back in the day, the owner, with his wonderfully thick Italian accent, was a bit gruff, and somewhat intimidating.

We ordered a slice to share.  No longer 75 cents (or was it 50?). Now up to $2.50.  But still HUGE!  I told the owner we used to live in the neighborhood and frequent his restaurant 30 years ago, and he lit up.  No longer gruff, he enthusiastically mentioned he remembered us.  He looked the same – – ok, as much as we do, too….a little older, a little grayer, a tiny bit heavier, still sporting a noticeable accent.  But now, with his more pleasant demeanor and sense of humor, he commented he’d been in business 38 years and still married to the same wife, remarking “what’s wrong with me?” We laughed. We reminisced. We were catching up with an old friend.

To top off the visit, the pizza did not disappoint – – not one little bit! It was absolutely as we’d remembered it – – DELICIOUS! Chock full of a hearty, rich, chunky tomato sauce, on a thin flavorful crust, topped with a generous amount of cheese.  I could easily have eaten another slice.

As we sat there, something WAS different.  My cell phone rang. It was my son, checking in from Boston. Back then, he didn’t exist. As a matter of fact, neither did my cell phone.

We got up to leave and I told the owner how much we enjoyed his pizza.  It was just as we’d remembered.  I have a feeling we made his day.  He certainly made ours.

His store had weathered the years and some tumultuous economic times.  Apparently others must agree with us, keeping him in business 38 years.

You can go home again.  Sometimes.  I’m glad we did. It was delicious!

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..


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