Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pasta Fresh

This afternoon, per Alma's suggestion, we decided to go out for pizza at one of out favorite neighborhood restaurants. We had hoped to try Spacca Napoli, but alas, that's not in our neighborhood, and it would have taken us longer to get there, eat and order than we had before Z.'s nap. So instead we chose Caponie's, which is down the street a few miles and, no, not pronounced "Capone's." Although it is in a highly Italian neighborhood and is decorated with a corny array of "Godfather"/"Sopranos" crap. Hey, it's their ethnicity! Let them do with it what they want, right?

Anyway, the pizza was spectacular. We got the specialty, the margharita, which was covered with crushed garlic and chopped basil, and had one of the best (thin) crusts I've ever eaten in Chicago. The cafe boasts one of the city's biggest - only? - brick oven, and Z. liked watching the pizza guy at work. She also like all the attention she got from the wait staff, who were more kid friendly than nearly any spot we've tried as of late. Z. loved the food and actually managed to make it out with more spaghetti in her stomach than on her shirt.

Afterwards we walked a block north to a place I'd been meaning to try for months: Pasta Fresh, which is pretty much what it sounds like, a fresh pasta shop where you watch the stuff being made while you wait. The service is wonderful and helpful, the hallmark of any good (as opposed to infamous) neighborhood place, and they helped Alma choose a sauce and a few varities of pasta to go with it. They also told her about storage and cooking times.

While I watched Z. run around the adjoining small grocery, Alma waited by the counter, where she absorbed the kind of exchange you just can't make up. A big guy began by complaining about how the ravioli was packaged for him.

"But it must be this way, because it is fresh, or it will be crushed," said the patient man behind the counter.

"What about those Sox hats? Can I buy one?

"No," said the counter guy in his heavily accented English. "They are just for decoration."

"What!? I'm a White Sox fan. How can you not sell one to me?!?"

"But they're not for sale," said the counter man.

"How can they not be for sale !?!? This is a store! Everything should be for sale!"

"Then you may buy one," said the counter man, no doubt just hoping to get the guy out.

"How much are you going to mark it up? I don't want to be ripped off!!"

"Please," said the ever-patient counter man. "You may have the hat, no charge."

Priceless, huh?

Pasta Fresh, by the way, is located in a strip mall whose sign hails it as the "Piazza Italiana," but every other shop in the strip is Polish. Or at least, is Polish now.


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