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.