Tag Archives: pizza

Party of three.

Since moving to San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, we’ve started eating Italian food based on proximity rather than desire. There’s spaghetti around the corner, a delicious plate of eggplant Parmesan closer than the grocery store and pizza never sounds like a bad idea after a long day at work. Never. Add in the fact that dogs are welcome at a handful of the local spots and getting the kitchen dirty at home seems downright silly.

Logic or location, we found ourselves at Tony’s last Monday sitting in the sunshine watching the world enjoy the soft glow of an abnormally warm evening. They’re good to us at Tony’s, but the star of the show is Woody the dog. The staff has gotten to know Woody and his tendency to cast his love and affection upon practically anyone who takes an interest. Servers come by every few minutes to stroke an ear. Tables full of tourists inquire about his personality and pedigree. And occasionally they’ll bring him a surprise from the kitchen.

As you can imagine, all this activity in a place that’s already bustling can create quite a scene. And it was in the middle of this swirl of mild chaos, conversation and beauty that I attempted to order meatballs. It was out of the ordinary for us and I was hoping they’d appear suddenly like a gift from the Italian protein gods.

Five minutes passed. Woody got comfortable under the table as we settled in to our corner spot. With a glass of wine in my hand and visions of the indulgent dinner we were about to consume, one of the general managers appeared.

“I have a surprise for you guys…meatballs!”

I moved forward, grabbed a fork and watched as she bypassed the table and set them down on the sidewalk in front of Woody’s sweet, watchful eyes. As he began ravenously devouring them, I realized that my order had been misinterpreted or possibly forgotten. Our table got meatballs that evening, but the only one who got to enjoy them was the rotten dog.

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About last Saturday.

We’re all aware of the fact that life can be reduced to a series of what-if scenarios and dissatisfaction. Plenty of people spend their days that way. But those of us who are lucky enough to be influenced and charmed by others and their insatiable encouragement, have 40th birthday parties.

Booze is mandatory. Pizza is never a bad idea. And space to socialize is best advised for everyone’s comfort. While all the logistics were carefully considered and necessary purchases were made well in advance, space turned out to be the unexpected issue.

In the spirit of welcoming everyone—humans and canines—the park was our original destination. The green grass of Washington Square was perfectly suited for the festivities. But then the rain came.

We didn’t know what was in store until the last minute. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until we stepped out on the sidewalk—with bags and backpacks full of party-in-the-park  necessities—that we discovered our fate. Watching people rush by with umbrellas in their hands, I cursed each drop as they collected on the windows and hoods of the cars parked along the street.

It was the time to pivot, as folks in the tech industry like to say. So, pivot we did. Actually, to be fair, it was more like a U-turn as we went back into our apartment to prepare our 400-square foot, one bedroom abode for an undetermined number of guests.

As the buzzer began to send electrical signals from the gate to the third floor, a small crowd began to form. Slightly frustrated at first, I was suddenly struck by the realization that the small crowd was comprised of some of my favorite people on earth, the small space was filled with thought-provoking conversation and there was plenty of pizza to go around (there was even a glutton-free option).

Who needs space? Who needs sunshine? San Francisco is supposed to rainy and cold. City life is supposed to force people to overcome small spaces with dirty stairwells and pigeon problems. The whole event started to feel like a bit like a movie sequence. Wine, beer, dogs and adults all cross pollinating, socializing and making the most of a rainy Saturday afternoon in North Beach.

I leaned against the plaster wall and took it all in. As people churned among one another, all I could do was smile. Smile like a dork. Smile like the world is OK. Smile…and crack open the bourbon.


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