Coming from northern Illinois, I got used to the fruits of a large Italian community. Inexpensive, hearty, warm, loud pizza joints. As much as I bitch about the politics of my old Rockford friends, I sure miss going to get $5.00 large sausage pizzas at Pino's where they cut it into squares, and inhaling it over Dungeons and Dragons and Dr. Pepper.
Pizza. Pizza that has a lot of cheese, and isn't paper thin, and doesn't come with sun-dried tomatoes. It isn't that easy to find in Seattle. I was beginning to think there wasn't a regular old pizza and pasta place in the whole city until I moved a mile away from one.
In a city where it's easy to spend almost $30 on one large frou-frou pizza with several toppings, it's nice to get a real pizza for $20 instead. They don't deliver...but if ya can't get off your lazy ass and go 8 blocks, I guess ya deserve Pagliacci's.
The place is called Santorini's Pizza and Pasta. Gino runs the place, and obviously knows half the people who come there by name. His son and daughter work there, too. Both, good looking kids.
They don't have a website. Go figure. I wanted to order ahead one day and I didn't have their menu, so I tried to look it up on the web. I had a hard time even finding their phone number.
So that day, when we were there waiting for our pizza, I asked Gino son they'd ever thought about a website. "Nah," he said, "we're not computer guys."
"Well, I'm a computer guy, that's why there is computer guys," I said.
"We might be moving anyway...we don't need a website."
So I went home, but I thought, 'Hey, I'd like a website just so I knew the pizza menu...maybe I'll offer to throw up something simple for them for free...they don't have to do anything but say it's okay.'
So next time I came back I asked the son, figuring maybe I could talk some sense into him. I offered, but he refused. "I got a wedding coming up," he says, "I'm too busy for anything extra. Plus, we might be moving."
"That's the nice thing about websites," I say, hardly ever knowing when to shut up, "you can change it easy."
Finally he got a little sick of me. "We don't need a website," he says, gesturing to the restaurant, "We got our own people!"
I figured they were both sick of me, but then when Gino saw me at the gas station he hailed me heartily, as only an old Italian guy can, "Hey! The website guy!" He asked me how business was and slapped me on the back. It reminds me that even if I'm a web application developer and an interface designer and and and information architect...I'm still The Website Guy to an old Italian guy. It made me proud to be the website guy.
He told me that they might be losing the property, and that they'd been there for, like, 20 years. They weren't even sure if they were going to open another place before they had to move. For some reason the thought of no Santorini's on the corner of 35th and 110th really bummed me out. Not just cause I'd miss the pizza.
I hadn't been by in a while but I went to Santorini's tonight, after an argument and a vicious craving for tortellini. It was late on St. Patricks day and there were a couple of small groups of old italian guys...old hardened Italians who said motherfucker a lot.
They walked out, and Gino gave me a nod. "How's business!?" he yelled across the restaurant. "Good!" I yelled back. I smiled. It had been awhile, but that man is in the business of recognizing faces.
Suddenly it really bummed me out...seeing them there...thinking of what that place meant to me. I was forcing down the last few bites of my tortellini (stomach says stop, mouth says go!) when the waitress lays a glass of chianti at my table. "It's from my dad," she says, as she probably has one thousand times before.
I drank the wine, took the pen from the check, and started to write this blog entry on my bookmark. When I left, I waited for Gino to come out the back room. I said hi, but wasn't sure what to say. I asked him about the move and he seemed real heavy about it right away.
"I dunno. They want to build here. We might have to leave...October....November. I don't know. "
"I got a feeling. Something good gonna happen."